Tem Tumurbat is a co-founder and managing partner of Nomadic Venture Partners, a US-based early-stage climate tech firm investing in companies decarbonizing natural resources, manufacturing, and transportation industries. NVP focuses on digital solutions as well as light hardware. Prior to starting NVP, Tem was an investor at a mining-focused private equity firm called Resource Capital Funds, where he managed a portfolio of companies spanning from early-stage to operating companies, all with a strong emphasis on ESG.
These incumbent and unsexy sectors don't attract the same level of talent or adopt innovative technologies, and the founders addressing these sectors receive very little of the early-stage venture funding, yet these sectors have a huge impact on global emissions. Sadly they're largely ignored by the typical VC. However, NVP sees it as an opportunity.
Someone flashier might say, “The Industries ripe for disruption,” but that would fundamentally miss the point of Nomadic Venture Partners. Tem focuses on the most significant sources of the problem because that is where solutions can have the most impact. It's a critical concept that is all too often missed in all too many domains.
Tem sees the most prominent startup risk as being the team. He looks for properly incentivized, resource-efficient, mission-driven, passionate problem-solvers. There is a lot in that one sentence. First, “properly incentivized.” While I have heard advisors focusing on this, it is the first time I have heard an investor mention it. Second, “passionate problem-solvers.” While I often hear that it is (or is not) essential for the founder to be passionate about the company or the problem area, this is the first time outside of academia that I have heard “passionate” being used to refer to “problem-solving.” These are sensible, pragmatic concerns. And that is the DNA of Nomadic Venture Partners — practical rather than flashy.
On the business risk side, Tem looks for solutions that work in practice and are early entrees to address inefficacy for a vast market. Unlike a more typical domain where investors have to focus on whether people will want (or better still are “actively seeking”) a solution, here, no one can afford to continue being inefficient. While obviously true, it is still counterintuitive to me.
Tem looks for proof that the product is useful by the results of actual users trying it out.
That is the DNA of Nomadic Venture Partners — practical rather than flashy.
When it comes to due diligence, Nomadic Venture Partners has a more extensive process than the typical early-stage investment firm. For instance, they do reference checks by calling customers, investors, and colleagues. Statistically, this is a solid and underused approach among preseed / seed funds. Additionally, Tem looks to see the founders have thought everything through. He wants to see a solid business plan, financial model, and use of funds, all of which demonstrate an organized mindset.
The biggest red flags to him are inflated valuation and founders lacking personal commitment to the business goal.
Nomadic Venture Partner is a graduate of the VC Lab run by Founder Institute. VC Lab is the world's largest producer of new venture funds. Tem is a graduate of the Colorado School of Mines. Both VC Lab and CSM are well known for sensible solution-focused alumni.