When you walk into the office of Abundant Venture Partners, it feels different. Instead of the marble-laden floors and corporate vibe that infiltrates many spaces, the Abundant office looks more incubator than venture fund. In a fully open, naturally lit loft, you see teams of portfolio companies hard at work or mingling in the communal area. And in the midst of it all, Eric Langshur, its co-founder, walks through on his ever-present Bluetooth headset and a smile on his face.
The Canadian-born serial entrepreneur cut his corporate teeth for several years before finding his real passion. In 1998, Langshur’s son, Matt, was born without a left heart ventricle. A passionate communicator, Langshur launched a website to post updates to family and friends on Matt’s progress. Eventually, the site was getting a few thousand hits per day, and Eric and his wife, Sharon, realized they had stumbled upon something. CarePages, a customized patient blogging site to share the patient’s story during a health challenge, grew to be the largest healthcare social network in the country—and this was in the early 2000s, before any of us had heard of the term “social network.” The company created a new category.
Langshur fondly recalls, “Starting CarePages was fantastic. I had the great fortune of finding my passion, with a business and a product that I had such a belief in. I knew it was important work, and that was the fueling function for the huge amount of effort that was required to make it come into existence.” In 2007, Langshur sold CarePages to Steve Case, co-founder of AOL, at Revolution Health. That was the beginning of Langshur’s lifelong pursuit of combining business with good business, or in his words, “of work that makes a difference.”
After starting another venture-backed health care company, serving as an active angel investor, and sitting on the board for various companies, Langshur said that he “wanted to contribute towards building a world in which I want to live.” He met Andrew Swinand, a former executive of Starcom Mediavest Group, and together they decided to build a profoundly values-based venture business. Enter: Abundant Venture Partners.
Abundant is not your traditional venture fund, neither in structure nor attitude. Abundant invests as a common investor and employs a patient capital model without a set exit date. Structured as a hybrid venture capital, incubator and holding company, it invests its resources into building businesses that do well while doing good. Langshur says laughingly, “As it turns out, it’s great business. It really does attract a self-selecting group of people who want to engage with us.”
Need proof of the model? In its 18 months since inception, Abundant has invested in some incredibly successful startups. There’s Cardinal Path, the largest independent digital intelligence and analytics company in the country and the world’s premiere experts in search engine optimization. There’s Frequency540, a purpose-based communications agency that leverages digital insights to help drive top-line growth for a marquis customer base. And instead of slowing down, Langshur and his team are busy changing the way health care startups and major providers connect on health care innovation through AVIA, an innovation accelerator for health care providers.
But outside of the impressive portfolio list, what really stands out when you meet Langshur is his unwavering commitment to his core values and being an overall rockstar. Says partner Andrew Swinand, “Eric’s genius throughout his career has been the ability to see problems through a different lens to discover solutions where others only see obstacles.”
I’ve witnessed Langshur mid-meeting, as an entrepreneur conveys his exclusive excitement to partner with Eric and the Abundant team. Langshur is in the familiar position of having to manage expectations and hold true to Abundant’s values, one of which is accountability. And when you hear Langshur explain his rationale behind why Abundant can’t support this new and exciting venture due to prior commitments, it makes you want to work with him even more.
In a world where “doing well while doing good” is being increasingly discussed, Langshur and his team at Abundant are living proof.