First Round: School ties

Global mid-market investor The Riverside Company is known for having a rather quirky culture, which is centered on ‘collective wisdom’; for instance, weekly gatherings of the investment committee are referred to internally as ‘Meetings of Minds' (or ‘MOMs’ if you’re into the whole TLA thing).

But it was only recently brought to First Round’s attention that Riverside also fancies itself an institution of higher learning. 

‘Riverside University’ is the official name of the firm’s initiative to educate its portfolio companies on how to be the best businesses they can be.

As First Round discovered at Riverside’s annual Leadership Summit in May, the firm even has a crest with the motto ‘Incrementor per veneratio’, which it translates as ‘Continuous Learning’, and uses an electronic platform called ‘The Quad’ to communicate with both portfolio companies and employees in its 20 offices across the globe.

What’s more, chief operating officer Pam Hendrickson is known as ‘The Dean’ and executives from new portfolio companies are made to wear green ribbons that say ‘Freshman’ on them.

As is always the case at top academic institutions, scholarly achievement goes hand-in-hand with a first-rate physical education programme.  Hence why the daily schedule at the Leadership Summit began – at 6:30am, no less – with ‘Total Strength Training’, ‘Running Groups’ and ‘Boot Camp Class’. (The previous year’s class was apparently treated to Vinyasa Yoga, which sounds a bit more like First Round’s cup of tea).

So do Riverside’s head instructors, co-CEOs Stewart Kohl and Bela Szigethy, practise what they preach?

“I didn’t participate in the formal sessions [but] I did workout every morning,” insists Szigethy. 

And Kohl? “I did the elliptical machine. I’m not a runner. Unless an LP is chasing me.”