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Exclusive: Foursquare’s President Starts New Early-Stage Venture

April 5, 2018, 1:15 PM UTC

Steven Rosenblatt, Foursquare’s president, is going back to early-stage startups.

In February, Term Sheet reported that Rosenblatt would leave his role at the location technology company to launch his own venture. Now, he’s partnered with Facebook’s former director of sales Joshua Rahn and recruiting veteran Glenn Handler to launch Oceans.

The new company is being described as “a mentorship engine that partners with founders to solve core businesses challenges.” In reality, the team will consult with startup founders to create a plan of execution based on a company’s needs. In return, the three partners will receive a mix of cash and equity for their services. Rosenblatt declined to disclose the amount of cash/equity he and his partners will receive, but noted the cash to equity ratio will depend on company stage.

“We anticipate that with earlier stage companies, we will receive more equity and less cash and with later stage companies, more cash and less equity,” he said.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Tusk Ventures employed a similar model by starting out as a political advisory firm working with startups in exchange for equity. It later backed into more traditional investing by raising a $36 million venture fund.

When asked if Oceans will eventually raise a fund, Rosenblatt said, “As we grow, we will look at all the opportunities that present themselves to us.” It sounds as though it’s a likely possibility, but Rosenblatt declined to elaborate further.

Oceans hopes to help founders solve common startup challenges around culture, diversity, and hiring. But the biggest threat they face, Rosenblatt says, is dealing with the tech behemoths that pose a threat to their budding businesses.

“One of the things most founders deal with today that they didn’t deal with five years ago is navigating the major platforms — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google,” he said. “Understanding how to work with them or build companies that compete with them is exactly where we can help.”

Rosenblatt is often credited with helping Foursquare successfully pivot from a consumer-focused company to an enterprise one. He was instrumental during Foursquare’s executive shakeup, and he’s now looking to help other startup founders navigate similar challenges.

“What I see a lot of the time is that founders are focused on valuation and vanity metrics rather than thinking about what’s going to be best for the business long-term,” he said. “For us, it’s ambitious to think that we could structure companies like Uber, Theranos, or Zenefits early enough to avoid those mistakes. Our real ambition is that the companies we work with don’t make those same mistakes down the road.”