This feels a bit like the first page of a fresh notebook. If it was a new notebook, this would be my very best handwriting. I thought it'd be nice to start by introducing the team and what we're all about. I'm going to start in the 1700s… bear with me.
If there's one thing I've learned from my time in the start-up community, it's that you can't underestimate the value of a good founding story.
Picture the scene: it's 1775 and you're at a pub in Birmingham - the Golden Cross Inn. A group of labourers sit at a table, drinking their wage packets and moaning about how none of them have homes of their own. The barkeep, Richard Ketley, overhears the conversation and walks over. He puts a pint pot down in the middle of the group and suggests that, rather than buy the final round of drinks, they put their money into the pot. When the pot’s full they could buy supplies and build a home for one man and his family.
So, that's what they did. And then they did it again and again until every one of them had a home.
Then they all wore gilets with the name of their building society on.
No, just kidding.
Actually, they disbanded; building societies didn't become permanent organisations until the 1830s.
Anyway, Nationwide is a building society and our roots are in that story. Because of Nationwide's size, people often wonder how it's different from a bank. Put simply, a bank has shareholders that it needs to keep happy with profits. A building society is owned by its members – in our case, our savings, mortgage and current account customers. And we’re run for their benefit.
The point of a building society is bringing people together to achieve more than they could on their own.
And that, really, is what NBS Ventures is all about.
When we invest in businesses, it's because we see the potential for those teams to develop incredible things that will be good for Nationwide's 15 million members, and society more broadly. We want to support them so that people get to use their products! Getting to spend time with inspirational teams also helps us better understand emerging tech, so Nationwide is in a good position to take advantage of technological developments and create the best experiences for our members.
As strategic investors we're on hand when our portfolio companies need us, but really we're along for their ride. Ups, downs and all the loop-de-loops!
How much of a notebook is as neat as the first page? Not much! Excitement, trials, and inspiration take hold and the frenzy of life whips up your handwriting. It doesn’t matter - it's the journey and everything you learn on it that makes the notebook so valuable.