Hey, Joe here - founder of Landscape 👋
In this post, I wanted to share a little of what is to come for Landscape in 2021.
My hope is that this post can provide a bit clarity on what's really important to the team and I, what we're going to be spending our time doing and where we see Landscape sit within the wider market.
The Story So Far
It's been ~6 months since I launched Landscape, and my word the time has flown by! I'm going to try to avoid repeating myself, so if you want to hear the full backstory, check out "Why I'm Building Landscape".
I launched the Landscape Review Platform MVP in October last year, and despite it being built entirely using no-code tools, and on a budget of ~£500, it was well received. The old saying "if you aren't embarrassed by your first version, you're launching too late" was very much the case!
After launching, there was a huge influx of interest from a range of stakeholders from across the startup ecosystem.
There were more reviews than ever coming in from founders as they started hearing about Landscape, and there were over 200 VCs from around the world who applied to become a Landscape Verified Partner.
We also started to see a large volume of inbound feature requests, ideas, product feedback (positive and negative), and "problems that need solving" from both founders and investors. It really is a blessing to be building in a market that is so open with its feedback and requests.
Now, enough about the past, let's look forward and see what's coming.
Landscape Web Platform V1
Over the past couple of months, we've been quietly working behind the scenes on building out the first proper version of the Landscape web platform and we are really happy with how it is coming along. We don’t have a concrete public launch date yet, but it should be some time in February, and we can't wait to share it with you and get your feedback!
With the help of all the brilliant founders who’ve shared their experiences with us, we're planning on doubling down on investor reviews this year. We aim to significantly increase our total count, as well as the distribution across more investors, to really provide founders with an awesome due diligence resource.
We've still got a lot of work to do to ensure that founders feel empowered to share their negative investor experiences, and we're going to start publishing far more insights into how Landscape works behind the scenes, starting by documenting "Our Approach to Anonymity & Transparency".
As well as focusing on reviews, we're going to be challenging investors that are Landscape Verified Partners to be more public in sharing their investment theses and processes.
Our aim is that founders will be able to navigate to an investor’s Landscape profile and discover:
a) What they're like to work with, as rated by founders in the market (both portfolio and non-portfolio)
b) What the investors look to invest in; including stages, sectors, traction requirements, and also importantly, what they don't look to invest in
c) What their processes are for being pitched, progressing a deal, making an investment, and typical terms
We've got a whole host of features lined up for the new Landscape Review Platform, and we plan to share a roadmap of exactly what we have planned in the near future.
Here's some other stuff we are going to be working on
Aside from the review platform, there are several other projects I want to explore this year. All of these projects address problems that I believe exist in the startup/fundraising ecosystem, and all of them are also things that have been directly requested by people the Landscape Team have interacted with over the past ~6 months.
#1 Building a founder support network
I'm slightly obsessed with the idea of building a community of founders that are all working together to support each other – wherever possible – throughout their entrepreneurial journeys.
A great example of where this already exists can be seen in accelerators, whereby the "Cohort Effect" can have huge benefits to the startups going through the programme. I want to experiment to see if we can replicate the Cohort Effect for any founder that wants to join the Landscape Founder Community.
#2 An "open-source" (ish) approach to dealflow
The team and I frequently get inbound from founders who are currently raising, but have no investment network of their own, and want help with introductions or finding suitable investors. Unfortunately, we don't have the capacity to help all of these founders, but my gut feel is that there is a product in here somewhere.
We're in the early stages of exploring the concept of an open-sourced dealflow platform. As I said, it’s early days, but I imagine it something like this: a platform where we can share some of the exciting startups we come across that are actively raising with the Landscape investor community. From there, the investors can then reach out to the founders who fit their investment theses or interest areas.
A natural extension of this would be allowing others to post fundraising startups to this space, creating somewhat of an open-sourced scouting network 🤔
#3 Investor Readiness Health Check
One thing that's stood out to me in conversations (with very early-stage founders and investors) has been the frequency in which founders that are not "investment ready" are going out and spending a lot of time pitching VCs.
More than anything, this feels like an education play. We want to help founders better understand what it takes to raise their first institutional cheque, through some form of "Investor Readiness Health Check" – and I’m excited to be working with a whole bunch of early stage investors to help the team and I explore this.
We're closing a funding round
At the back end of last year, I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed with everything going on at Landscape.
Things were going really well, which was both amazing and super motivating, but I was still the only person working full time on everything. This meant working a ridiculous number of hours trying to balance onboarding the 200+ investors that had applied (and managing these relationships), handling and responding to regular inquiries from founders, building out the new platform, implementing new processes, running the social channels, and attempting to produce content.
I kept reminding myself that these were good problems to have and that it's a far better position to be in than having nothing going on, but as you can probably imagine, after a while I started dropping the ball on a few bits here and there, and was stretched very thin.
It took a conversation with one of my straight-talking advisors to point out that the fact I was flying solo had become the main growth inhibitor to Landscape, and that I needed some help.
We've been piloting a premium subscription for VCs that enables them to get consistent anonymous feedback, but revenues were never going to be enough to bring on additional team members, so it felt like it was a good time to look at raising some money to help me start scaling things.
I've spent the last month or so having conversations with people that I trust, think would add value as a Landscape investor, and believe in what we are trying to achieve. The conversations have gone well, and I’m excited to share more with you on this very soon.
I’ve also been considering adding a crowdfunding element this fundraise. I love the idea of Landscape being part-owned by the startup community, and it'd be nice to have more founders actively involved in what we are trying to build. If you'd be interested to hear more about this, give me a shout!
and that's a wrap.
All in all, I'm super optimistic about what 2021 is going to bring.
On a personal level, I've never enjoyed working on something so much that it barely feels like work - and I find exploring the different directions we can take Landscape extremely exciting.
Thanks for continuing to follow us on this journey, and as always - if you have any feedback or thoughts on anything Landscape, drop the team and I a note at hello [at] landscape [dot] ventures.