Reflecting on 2023, one theme resonates throughout our experiences: community. In a year dominated by unpredictability, we’ve found strength in bringing our portfolio companies and the broader Norwest ecosystem together.
We are grateful to have navigated a challenging environment with our community of visionary entrepreneurs, co-investors, business partners, and staff. Everyone has worked exceptionally hard and we’re immensely proud to lock arms with such a resilient bunch.
In 2023, as in all preceding years, our commitment remained steadfast — to walk this journey together with our founders, CEOs and their teams, offering guidance and support as they traverse the ever-changing economic landscape. As much as we revel in their successes, we are at our best partnering with our companies as an invited guest to navigate and overcome obstacles.
Helping Our Portfolio Get Ahead of the Generative AI Explosion
Navigating the generative AI wave. As generative AI hit the mainstream, we acted quickly to help our portfolio companies – and ourselves – evaluate and thoughtfully adopt the technology. With access to AI experts – among our investors, portfolio companies, and the broader ecosystem – we tapped into deep knowledge and diverse perspectives.
We are especially grateful to our portfolio founders and AI luminaries, Richard Socher of You.com and William Ballance of Lavender, for sharing their insight into the tools and entrepreneurial mindset needed to navigate the AI landscape. In a wide-ranging conversation led by tech writer Stephanie Palazzolo, our community got a view of the promise and pitfalls of AI for startups.
Our partners also shared their learnings and insights more broadly. Norwest Partner Scott Beechuk opined on the opportunities for AI startups in The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Quartz. Xembly investor Priti Youssef Choksi shared the three criteria she looks for when evaluating companies in the AI space and spoke at startup competitions and events throughout the year, including a panel on the AI gold rush.
In addition, Norwest CMO & Operating Executive Lisa Ames also hosted a roundtable with AI expert Barak Turovsky for marketers to learn more about generative AI and share their own experiences, creating a forum for best practices across the portfolio. The collaborative spirit of that event inspired us to find out how marketers in the broader community view generative AI — its benefits, challenges, and potential. So we fielded our Generative AI in Marketing Quick Pulse Survey, a resource for marketers to ground themselves in the latest thinking of their peers. Some of the survey findings and insights from Lisa’s conversations throughout the year even made it into TechCrunch, a testament to the appetite for shared knowledge on emerging technologies.
Community Strengthened by Collective Wisdom and Support
Benchmarks to drive decision making and planning. One of the privileges of working with so many companies is the broad perspective we get into how businesses of different sizes and stages operate across sectors. Portfolio leaders often rely on us to draw on that perspective to provide them with insights into key business functions. Our investors and portfolio services teams do this every day through their conversations with portfolio leaders — additionally, this year we developed two robust benchmark reports to help our companies.
- Talent & People Benchmark Report: a pillar of our HR knowledge sharing, the report provided a beacon of insight into how our portfolio companies foster culture, retain talent, and address common challenges in today’s ever-evolving workplace.
- Sales & Marketing Benchmark Report: our inaugural survey of GTM leaders, fielded in late summer of 2023, measured benchmarks and current practices around marketing and sales budgets, team sizes, team reporting structures, and program priorities.
More support from operational experts. We also added operational expertise to support our portfolio companies — and the timing couldn’t have been better. In March, we welcomed Cloud Product Executive Eyal Manor as an Entrepreneur in Residence. Eyal, an accomplished technologist and former VP/GM of engineering and product at Google Cloud, continues to explore new opportunities in cloud data, infrastructure, and applications.
In June, we brought on “sales whisperer” David Rudnitsky as CRO operating executive and principal. Although our 2022 Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey results showed a world-class score affirming that we serve our CEOs well, the responses also revealed a need for more sales support. We listened and acted by bringing on David and his legendary CRO experience to give our companies the scaffolding they need on sales and GTM strategy.
Supporting Our Portfolio Through Market Ups and Downs
Resources for a stormy journey. One of the ways we empower our portfolio leaders to meet their business challenges head-on is by sharing insights and guidance from experts in our community. In 2023, a year marked by market fluctuations and challenges, we built even more resources designed to help them see their way through a downturn.
Here are a few resources from our blog that resonated in navigating the challenges of 2023:
- Capital Efficiency: 3 Best Practices for Using Capital Efficiency to Drive Major Growth
- Cash Flow Management: Conquering a Cash Crunch: 5 Cash Flow Management Strategies to Extend Runway
- Options Repricing: A Guide to Repricing Underwater Options
- Enterprise Sales Pipeline: How to Keep Winning Enterprise Software Deals in a Downturn
- Marketing Program Optimization: 5 Low-Cost Ways to Optimize Your Marketing for Challenging Times
Building our Portfolio for a Lasting Impact
A stream of healthcare investments. This year we “quintupled down” on our mission to partner with innovative companies that demonstrate a positive impact on all three “Ps” in the healthcare system: Patient, Provider, and Payor. Solutions that align incentives and deliver benefits for all three stakeholders are all too rare in the U.S. healthcare system.
We’re delighted to have found and invested in multiple healthcare companies that fit that description this year, including SetPoint Medical, Vertos Medical, Diana Health, and Cytovale. In fact, our team allocated 5x more capital into venture-backed healthcare companies year over year — a fantastic testament to the hard work of our healthcare team, which doubled in 2022. We kept that momentum rolling this year as we welcomed Philip Fleischman, vice president on our healthcare growth equity team.
Together for the Journey in 2024
As we set our sights on 2024, we’re placing an even greater focus on our founders, walking shoulder-to-shoulder through hyper-growth phases and challenging environments alike. We will help at all stages of the journey and provide the resources, contacts, and experience needed.
There is no substitute to being in person with each other and next year we’re planning even more opportunities to bring the Norwest community together. We’re appreciative of everyone who spent time with us (whether at events, webinars, or huddles), brought forth their insights and learnings, shared their challenges and leaned in. We can’t wait to facilitate more of that in 2024.
We wish you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.