NFX Guild’s James Currier’s journey from baiting hooks to baiting big deals

James Currier focuses on building businesses with network effects, and he builds those businesses by choosing the right people first. Currier started as a schoolboy entrepreneur, selling worms to fishermen at six and later selling boxer shorts in college.

After starting his career in venture capital, Currier founded a series of companies and incubators that took advantage of network effects to grow and create defensible value.

He co-founded the social network Tickle in 1999 and grew it through the dot-com ups and downs until it grew its membership to a quarter of the existing internet population before it was sold to in 2004. “Why would you start a business without a network effect?” Currier asked.  “The value that’s created when you hit a network effect is so vast, that that’s really what we’re all looking for.”

Later, in the incubator OogaLabs and the accelerator and venture fund NFX Guild, Currier has looked to the power of network effects to grow successful businesses. But he also recognizes the importance of mentorship and of choosing the right team as keys to success in making those ventures successful.

Currier looks for the humility to listen, as well as the grit and determination to never give up, as aspects of successful teams.

“Choose your people first,” Currier said. “These are tough businesses. These are tough things to do. They are hard, emotionally and spiritually, and they’re hard physically. You’ve gotta get through it. So you gotta go through it with the people who you admire and respect and trust. And if you don’t have that, then start again. Go get those people and then move forward with them.”