People usually tell the origin stories of their companies with a lot of flair and drama. But it’s typically a lot less sexy.
10 years ago, Joe, Matt and I started a company over dinner. At the time it was pretty simple.
While the idea of creating asset value was lurking in the background, in the beginning we focused on simply helping non-technical founders get their companies off the ground, providing world-class design and software engineering. It was a fun business, but it was modest.
What’s happened in the years since has been more than I could have imagined.
The company grew, eventually moving upstream to assist enterprise clients' innovation departments by executing on new-to-the-world businesses. Eventually it expanded even further into more holistic, strategic growth advisory services.
At the same time, we saw an opportunity to create a new type of venture fund. One providing both cash and unique access to a team of operators. One with a novel no-fee management structure.
We have invested in or created 26 companies, have had three exits, and have built a portfolio we’re extremely proud of.
Throughout the journey, we’ve been aware of the potential for improved synergies between our venture firm and advisory practice. And starting in late 2019 we started to get serious about how we could better take advantage of them.
What emerged from those conversations was a new type of holding company that combines advisory, venture investing and incubation under one roof.
We’re calling it Manifold, and it’s launching today.
Going forward, Digital Intent will be known as Manifold Advisory. Future venture investing will take place under the Manifold Ventures umbrella. And our incubation and acceleration work will take place inside Manifold Studios.
The synergies are numerous.
The advisory practice has taught us what types of opportunities enterprise organizations are looking for... What an attractive early stage partner looks like... What a potential acquisition target might be and why.... What the future of their industries might look like. All of which inform our diligence process for potential venture investments or studio projects.
At the same time, our ventures group looks at hundreds of deals per year. Our diligence process has evolved to be one of the more robust we’re aware of. The pattern recognition and ability to dissect an opportunity makes us better investors. But it also informs our advisory group and allows them to be better, more trusted advisors to clients. And it allows us to be more rigorous with the opportunities we explore inside the studio.
Digital Intent has long prioritized hiring operators with legit startup experience. We’ve felt a bias toward action and understanding of the concrete drivers that make an opportunity succeed are critical to successful work.
The studio will give these folks considerably more opportunities to flex those muscles, getting the larger organization more reps faster, which will allow us to execute at even higher levels for clients, and add even more value for fund companies.
In many ways this origin story feels more like an organic evolution — a continuation of the work our team has done over the last ten years.
But it also feels like the start of something brand new. Something that if successful amounts to nothing less than a machine for perpetual value creation.
Our ambitions are extremely high for Manifold. And we believe we have the team and the resources to make it happen. We can’t wait to see what the next 10 years look like. And we hope you join us.