“Do Something Good, Feel Something Real”

That’s Ray Chambers describing what motivates him. In Mr. Chambers’s view, technological innovation is simply a catalyst; business is the vehicle. But the purpose, ultimately, is to do good — to solve a problem, to help a person, to create real value.

This purpose has become more and more challenging. Opportunities close and technological innovation advances. But all this means is that there is less room for companies that are unable to set forth a value proposition to customers that goes beyond a simple product or innovation. Michele Serro warns that there is no need for more companies creating arbitrary value; that it’s more important to build a company that matters. And for a company to matter, it is going to have to have values that are socially positive and transparent — in other words, it’s going to have to build a clear and lasting brand that aligns its values with its customers and shareholders.

It is more difficult than ever for a company to maintain its competitive advantage for a sustained period of time, which means that it won’t be able to rely on its products alone. Not only that, but consumers are increasingly attracted to companies that create value both for themselves and for others. And this shift means that it is very important for those companies to demonstrate to consumers that their values are in line with each other.  

At Collaborative Fund, we talk a lot about the importance of Brand. A brand reflects familiarity, accountability, and consistency — whether for good or for bad. One of our main investment goals is to invest in strong brands because it is the singular facet of a company that remains constant when so many other factors may be changing.  It reflects the consumer’s pact with the company to trust it as it innovates and navigates a changing landscape. And because we invest in start-up companies in their earliest stages, that landscape is inherently rocky, making it all the more important for us to find companies whose brand reflects the same values that we believe in.

When you build a company upon values that resonate with your customers, you’re investing in your own brand — and that’s the type of company we like to partner with.