Talking Entrepreneurship and Culture at 36|86

36|86 Festival
2 min readJan 24, 2019
Written by Marlon Nichols, Founder & Managing Partner, Cross Culture Ventures

At Launch Tennessee’s 36|86 Entrepreneurial Festival, I discussed how to make strategic investing work to its maximum capacity for all involved.

My advice for entrepreneurs walking into a funding meeting: be yourself, be succinct and know your audience. Every investor is different so be sure you’re aligned on what’s important.

For example, at Cross Culture Ventures, we prioritize consumer behavior so your pitch should draw a straight line from your product to your consumer.

Before I invest in anything I ask myself, do I believe in this founder or team? Are they the right group to build a business that addresses a specific challenge or presents an opportunity that “wins” the market? And most importantly, are we — meaning the startup and the investor — the best team to solve this challenge?

In addition to offering tips and tricks for startups pitching investors, I also pulled back the curtain on what drives successful investments. In order to build a successful firm, you need a strong company culture that is focused on a solid understanding of consumer needs and wants, can stay competitive in the market and emphasizes unit economics and growth. A good CEO will be aligned in making these their top priorities.

At Cross Culture Ventures, we’ve adopted a thematic approach when it comes to investing in clients called “cultural investing.” This means that we match the convergence of global pop culture with consumer needs based on innovation and technology growth. For example, we’ve noted that millennials value flexibility and transparency so an investment in a company that shows a 100% transparent procurement process via a mobile application would be lucrative. By studying market culture and consumer wants and needs, we are able to better understand the types of investments we need. Our ethos is that culture drives brands and brands define the world that we live in. Nothing showcases brands in our current society better than diversity, innovation and pop culture.



36|86 Festival

36|86 brings together innovators, pioneers, investors & visionaries to shape the future of business.