“In today’s hyperlinked world, solving problems anywhere, solves problems everywhere.” These words by renowned entrepreneur Peter H. Diamandis couldn’t have been more relatable. Some of the key businesses that drive our lives today are startups which have leveraged technology to create globally-replicable solutions. Be it an Uber or an Airbnb, disruptive ideas have scaled into universal verbs on the back of technology.
As VC firms continue to fund technology-led businesses, I sometimes wonder if the data and infotech sector has reached its saturation point. But Matrix Partners India MD, Avnish Bajaj says we can only expect more innovation in the future, adding, “Things are still nascent in India when it comes to optimising the potential of the internet and mobile”. Besides, considering the market right now is fertile with ideas, this trend is only going to flourish.
Apart from technology, what drives the minds behind these game-changing startups is the faith in original thinking and the power of continuous collaboration. A second home to such folks then, must reflect these values with open, inspiring spaces. It must be high on the approachable factor not only to communicate the company’s ‘inviting’ philosophy to visitors, but also to help team members absorb the core essence of the world of venture capitalists.
The role of VC professionals has now evolved into one of value-addition partners. Beyond just furnishing capital, they bring vision, belief and guidance to take entrepreneurial passion to new heights. Contemporary VC workspaces have been incorporating this ethos into their design. The tone for their team members and visitors alike is set keeping this in mind – right from the colour palette to more community spaces for ideation and collaboration.
Another factor that has contributed to the new design culture at VC offices is the fact that their visitors are no longer limited to “safe sectors”. The likes of lifestyle brands like Chumbak have transformed the universe of potential funded businesses. They embody the vibrancy and freshness of ideas in their spaces. This is why, a ping pong table in the reception lounge, like at the Matrix Partners’ Mumbai office, is not an unusual sight. When future founders walk into a VC office, they see a reflection of how they envision their own company. Just like Matrix Partners’ “Founders First” philosophy, a spirit of openness towards new entrepreneurs is integral to VC firms all over. A case in point is Sequoia Capital’s Silicon Valley office, modelled to serve as “an office that lets guests feel at home.”
The second wave of changes will further cement the shift in the funded-funder relationship. VC offices will also have to mirror their visitors’ passion for groundbreaking technology if they are to invite the most disruptive business ideas. VCs have been cultivating a growing preference for funding startups that leverage augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and human experience design. When designing VC workspaces of the future, I believe the following aspects will play a key role:
- Presentation spaces that are compatible with AR / VR technology
- AI-enabled insights and environment
- Virtual reality zones that allow visitors to showcase their business vision
- Human experience design that appeals to design partners
- Cues from pop culture that communicate VC professionals’ inclination towards business that have changed lifestyles globally. For instance, an OTT platform entrepreneur will want to partner with a professional who is well-versed with highbrow content on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
To sum it up, VC offices are set to go from being a second home for technology-driven entrepreneurs to becoming the home for disruptive experiences and discussions. Their workspace design will thus serve as a catalyst for developing relationships with entrepreneurs who’re redesigning our future.
Photo Courtesy: Photographix | Sebastian Zachariah