Venture Capital is a Team Sport

Melanie Strong
3 min readNov 18, 2020


NEXT VENTŪRES Welcomes Julian Eison to Our Team

Legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson once said, “the strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” Building and sustaining a high performing team is as important in early stage investing as it is in sports, and we are thrilled to announce our newest player, Julian Eison.

We began our search for our first full-time investment associate at the craziest of times, in early March 2020. The gravity of COVID and its impact on our economy and healthcare system was just settling in. We knew it was going to be a difficult process, made more challenging because we couldn’t meet our candidates in person. And because we were committed to building the most diverse bench possible, we cast the broadest net, seeking talent that went beyond the typical VC pedigree.

Over the next few months we met incredible people. The hiring process can be a lot like therapy, as you learn as much about yourself as you do about the people you’re lucky to interview. And we learned a few important things:

1. We’re new fund managers, which means we need to be humble about what we know and don’t know. Finding someone with investment experience was critical.

2. Founder empathy makes us better investors. We need to be able to put ourselves in the shoes and minds of our CEOs in order to be the best partners, advisors and board members.

3. Passion for the sports, health and wellness space makes the work mean more. We believe our portfolio companies have the potential to change the world, and we hoped our new team member would share that vision.

We found all those attributes and more in Julian Eison. Growing up with dreams of competing in the Olympics, he instead took his drive and competitive mindset to Golden Gate Capital, where he spent six years learning the ins and outs of investing, due diligence, and market analysis.

In 2016, he founded the menswear brand Eison Triple Thread using AI, lifestyle data and musical preferences to create personalized style recommendations. And like many founders, he experienced the highs and lows of building something from scratch and discovering that what he’s built was ahead of its time.

Julian then dove straight back into the investment community, as both an angel investor and funding network manager at Valence. And that’s when we met. We had joined Valence’s global community of Black professionals to connect with founders. Julian and I bonded over our shared love of sports and sneakers, and the stories of our untraditional VC career paths.

Between March and August we reviewed over 2,000 applications, performed 70 interviews, and spent a great deal of time with six final candidates. I believe that you don’t choose the best people to work on your team — rather, they choose you. We’re thrilled that Julian chose us. Please join us in welcoming him, and keep an eye out as there are great things to come.

Melanie Strong and the NEXT VENTŪRES team



Melanie Strong

Managing Partner at sports and wellness VC Next Ventūres. Mountain biker, aspiring farmer, lover of all things outdoors.