As VCs, we are placed in a unique and rewarding role. We get to work with some of the best minds and most fascinating companies. Alongside the incredible founders we invest in, we share a common goal; to build disruptive companies at scale.
We are constantly looking to improve the ways in which we can work towards this common goal and assist our founders in fulfilling their potential, ultimately reaching massive scale.
The most effective way we can do this is to collate feedback and points of development directly from the founders themselves.
Every year – for the last four years – we send out our annual NPS survey to gather feedback from all the founders and CEOs in the Notion Family. This allows us to learn more about their experience of working with us and allows us to continue on our mission to create the conditions for extraordinary success in European tech. Creating these conditions for success, also turns our founders into advocates and helps us win the most competitive deals.
In our most recent survey, we asked a range of different questions around the experiences with both Notion and Notion Platform, which gives us a great sense of direction for the areas we need to do more of, improve on or even stop doing.
Key learnings and takeaways
Being a value add investor is a team sport
We decided to split the survey into two parts, one focused on questions around working with Notion and another on working with the Notion Platform. However, what we found was that when asking specifically about Notion, a lot of the responses referred to the platform and vice versa. For example, when being asked about Notion rather than the platform, founders made remarks such as: “Notion is hiring good people, everyone I have dealt with are people we like spending time with”, “the platform approach to assisted investment is a great approach and has a significant point of difference to investment” and “supporting entrepreneurs and growing the network of portfolio services.”
There is an increasingly blurred distinction between ‘Notion’ and ‘Notion Platform’ and rightly so. Being a value add investor is a team sport and relies – we believe – on three conditions
- A coherent investment focus, such as Series A B2B SaaS, Europe;
- A team with extensive experience in founding and operating within the focus segment; and
- A shared “value add” ethos.
Notion Platform is simply a manifestation of the capabilities that are present across the whole firm, but delivered repeatedly and programmatically across the entire portfolio.
So it’s great to see that the founders value Notion Platform as being integral to what they like about Notion as a whole, which is why our annual founders’ retreat is so very important. It demonstrates that we are all pulling together to enhance the experience of our ever-growing Notion Family.
Having the Notion Platform and Investment team work side by side also allows for a more transparent and multi-level relationship with our founders; where an area of development is identified by the Investment team or Notion General Partner, Platform are able to support and assist founders in achieving their goals.
Much of the work the Notion Platform and the Investment team do is experiential and through activities such as helping with hiring and events, we are able to improve our collective intelligence alongside that of our portfolio. Throughout all the activities we stick to our goals of challenging ourselves, having fun and making money.
Things to do more of
From the survey feedback, we were able to highlight three key areas that our founders particularly value:
“Great support, very relevant network, good portfolio events for all parts of the company. Honest & straight forward feedback.”
“Real value add, platform team are immense, super supportive and are so committed to helping you grow, scale and build something of value.”
“The support framework you have in place and access to other Notion Founders when we need help.”
These three areas particularly stood out for us. We are constantly leveraging our network to run relevant and insightful events, and to provide help when it’s needed. The platform is continuously improving, providing useful and relevant events, content and recruitment support. It’s great to know that the support we offer and interactions we have, make many of our founders feel like they can have an approachable, open and honest relationship with us.
Whilst the survey affords us incredibly useful, informative and subjective learnings, there are also some concrete facts we’re able to take away. Aside from the NPS scores themselves, which are staying high and consistent year on year, we can also see how the positive feedback is translating into intros to other founders.
Our mission is to invest in the best founders in the industry and a pivotal way we are connected to these founders is through the founders we already know. This year, 94% of our founders said they had already recommended Notion to another founder in the last year. This is a 7% increase from last year and a figure we can be exceptionally proud of. Some founders made as many as 10 intros each!
Using our NPS and next steps
Areas of development
Whilst we are delighted with the results, one of the key reasons we send out the survey is to learn about what we can improve on and it gives us lots of different areas to focus on. As such, we pulled out the key areas of development for 2019:
“It has improved lately but being more present in other EU countries”
“Continue to expand the US footprint, and build relationships with US VCs.”
As a European wide fund, we are committed to improving the support and network for those outside of London and to further support all of our companies as they internationalise and expand their own global networks. We are lucky to have such a great network already in place and are excited to further utilise this internationally. A lot of our network comes from the US and moving forward, nurturing and developing these relationships will become increasingly important to us, so that we can assist and support our founders with the necessary steps, if they decide to take the leap across the pond. To become a more international fund, we are taking further steps to run most events remotely and to build out our relationships with international VCs, particularly those in the US.
Time with partners:
“Would be keen to have more contact with the Partners. Found the conversations at the off-site very useful.”
“It would be great to get the opinion of the rest of the Notion partners. I sometimes feel the other partners are unaware of what our company is doing and only have an hour meeting to be updated.”
Our retreat and events are also great ways for our founders to spend more time with the partners and we’ve learned that it’s beneficial for founders to spend time with all the Notion partners, as each one has unique advice and insight to offer. We want to further increase this exposure.
Be more stage specific:
“Organise more stage specific events.”
“Later stage firms need have less of a need for the company building services. Get management team more involved. Very good for them. Focus on below the Founder / CEO level.”
Additionally, our portfolio companies are at varying stages of their life cycle. We are becoming increasingly aware and informed of the different aspects companies need help on, often dependent on their stage. This also offers a great opportunity for portfolio companies to offer support and mentor one another. To offer more stage specific services, we are planning to produce more playbooks, for example one around focusing on key stages such as Product Market Fit.
Having these core areas to focus on will allow us to further improve Notion and the Platform going into 2019.
Looking forward, we are committed to using this feedback to improve the experience our founders have of working with both Notion and the Platform.
Therefore, our focus throughout 2019 will be on:
- Facilitating more quality time for the founders with the Notion team and GPs
- Better mobilising of our network, particularly our international one
- Leveraging expertise from within our portfolio, for example having later stage companies mentor earlier stage companies
- Being more stage-specific in content and activities
- Refining the messaging around Notion and the Platform
The relationships we have with our founders, before they join Notion, during the time that we are invested in them and after they exit, is incredibly important to all of us at Notion. Our NPS survey, allows us an insight into the founders’ perspective of these relationships.
Each founder will have a different experience, different needs and different recommendations for improvements. The more we are able to have an open, honest and communicative relationship with our founders, the more likely we are to have a mutually beneficial and exciting journey for all involved.