Members of the NextView team, including new partner Melody Koh, second from right, and cofounder Rob Go at center back. NEXTVIEW VENTURES
The New York City startup community is gaining another female investment partner as early-stage venture capital firm NextView Ventures puts down firmer roots in the city.
NextView Ventures announced on Tuesday that it has promoted Melody Koh to the role of partner. Koh, who was a venture partner at the firm, previously ran product for meal kit company Blue Apron. She joins Rob Go, David Beisel and Lee Hower in NextView's partnership and will be the first partner in its New York office.
"The New York ecosystem is really exciting, and having a partner there who really leads the efforts there is critical," says Go. "There is a particular skill set and experience around hyper-growth that very few people have, and Melody does."
Koh joins NextView as the firm, which started as a $20 million Boston-based early-stage fund in 2011, continues to expand in size and geographic scope. NextView's second fund was $40 million in 2014; it raised a $50 million fund in 2017.
NextView's investments already included a number of New York-based exits such as Sunrise, which was acquired by Microsoft; TapCommerce, acquired by Twitter, and Paintzen, acquired by PPG. Its current portfolio includes New York tech companies TripleLift in ad tech, plus-size fashion company Dia&Co and Troops, a tool that connects sales software to Slack. Outside of New York, the firm has backed startups like Drift, Plastiq and ThredUp.
And it's a return to venture for Koh, who started her career at Evercore in finance before taking a junior role in Time Warner's venture capital arm at the time, then launching her own wine-focused app while at Harvard Business School. Koh later worked at Fab, the one-time high-flying commerce startup, and then spending three and a half years running product at Blue Apron, where she was part of the company's rapid ascent through its IPO. In the interim, Koh participated in First Round's product co-op for operators to gain investment exposure.
Koh, who has made four investments while a venture partner at NextView, says she expects to invest primarily in New York but not exclusively so (one of those investments is in Houston, the other San Francisco). She says her experiences at Fab, and more so Blue Apron, will help her to evaluate companies with a strong product that could be about to go through similar phases of rapid expansion.
She and firm cofounder Go say they are both eager to improve venture capital's diversity representation. "We do a lot of events, and when we started tracking diversity at them, it was super eye-opening for us how lopsided it was," says Go. NextView's first female hire was its former head of platform, Ginny Mineo, who joined in 2017. Mineo helped give the firm a new perspective, says Go. (She left the role last year.) "Even if you're not able to bring on a partner right away, you need to bring on people and give them a seat, and a voice at the table," he says. "Be open enough to admit your biases and just listen."
An active member of All Raise, the cross-firm initiative in venture capital to improve diversity in founders and investors, Koh says she and the firm are working to improve the funnel of diverse-founded companies entering NextView's pipeline and investments. "I'm excited to be a champion for that," she says. "And to do as much as I can to give back, both in the sense of how we can get more female investors in the ranks, as well as how to help provide guidance and exposure."