First Round Capital has been one of the few firms who started providing compelling services for startups before the agency model became popular. For example, the firm created a Yelp-like database of business providers for its startups, which includes 1,500 ratings and reviews for over 500 service providers, including those in payroll, phones and more. First Round also launched HackPR, a platform for companies and reporters to quickly and efficiently connect on press coverage. Today, the firm is debuting another interesting service for startups, First Round Review.
First Round Review is essentially an original content hub and knowledge base for startups. The aim is for Review to become the Harvard Business Review for startups. And in the spirit of openness, Review will be open to the startup community so any entrepreneur can access this content.
In terms of the type of content, Partner Josh Kopelman explained that there was no real destination site for advice for startups. And VCs blogs cover the perspective of one VC. “The media today does a really good job of covering ‘what’ startups are doing,” he says. “But we’ve seen there is a need for content that covers the ‘how.’”
Around four months ago, the firm started thinking about how to best address the “how” part of this equation. On its blog, First Round began posting content like “How Etsy Grew their Number of Female Engineers by Almost 500% in One Year” and “The One Cost Engineers and Product Managers Don’t Consider.” First Round had internal staff and freelancers interview founders and engineers and more, and write the content.
Kopelman says the response to this content over the past four months was overwhelming, showing the need across the startup community for a hub to answer the most commonly asked questions and hurdles faced by early stage companies. Traffic to the firm;s website went up by 10x, he adds.
Having invested in over 200 companies, the firm has no shortage of entrepreneurs and founders to ask to share their thoughts. But Kopelman says they aren’t limited the scope to just portfolio companies. The goal is to include lessons and advice from the entrepreneurs who have been through some of the challenges of running and operating a startup, including the ones that First Round did not fund.
First Round Review will post about three to seven pieces of content per week, and will be bringing on a full-time contributing editor, who will be on staff to lead this content strategy. Content will range from original long-form pieces and Q&As to some guest posts.
In theory, the site is similar to Google Ventures Startup Lab’s body of content, which features videos and tutorials, by current Googlers and other technology execs, aimed at helping startups navigate things like A/B testing, holding productive meetings and more. Most of these talks are private, but Google Ventures has been posting a number of these discussions online to the public.
Andreessen Horowitz just brought on Wired Senior Editor Michael Copeland to lead the firm’s new content strategy, which could be similar to First Round’s ambitions.