Johan Brenner 11 June 2024

Welcome, Nick Wilkins!

Over the past 21 years at Creandum we have established a strong reputation built on our values, the way we operate and our track record. However, we always tell ourselves that we are only halfway there and we know we can do more to share our story with a wider community and provide even more support to our portfolio. A strong brand is also crucial to differentiate in the increasingly competitive and fragmented VC industry. So we are thrilled to welcome Nick Wilkins to the team to lead Marketing at Creandum. Nick spent nearly nine years at Airbnb, scaling with the company from the early days to leading their Global Communications team through an incredibly successful IPO in December 2020.

Welcome Nick, we are glad to have you on board. Tell us about your experience prior to Creandum.

The first half of my career was very mobile and telecoms focused. A highlight was leading the communications on the mobile operator side for the launch of the original iPhone in 2007. O2 had a 2 year exclusive to sell the iPhone and it was an incredible opportunity to be at the heart of a generational-defining technology moment. 

I joined Airbnb in London in January 2014 before moving to San Francisco a couple of years later and growing with the company to ultimately lead the global comms function. I was lucky enough to partner closely with CEO, Brian Chesky, who believes strongly in PR as a key marketing pillar. We developed strong narratives for product launches and created campaigns to insert Airbnb into pop culture and get people talking about the brand. The Covid-19 pandemic was a rollercoaster ride. In the early days, people doubted that we, a travel company, would survive. 10 months later we had one of the most successful tech IPOs in recent years. 

I left Airbnb to move back to the UK and have spent the last year working with founders on their narratives, comms strategies and how to build out a communications team.

What were some of the essential lessons from the Airbnb experience?

I learnt so much from my time there, much of which was around the power of storytelling.

  • Airbnb’s brand achieved that rare status of being both a noun and a verb and PR was a key part of that strategy. We had a very proactive approach to get out on the front foot, own the vision around travel and get people talking positively about the company. You have to own your narrative or others will define it for you.

  • You have to anchor your story in what’s going on in the world. A big part of Airbnb’s early narrative was built around the sharing economy trend which emerged from the 2008/9 financial crisis.

  • Never underestimate the power and longevity of a good founding story.

  • Be clear on your value proposition for customers and society as a whole.

  • Story is crucial to a successful IPO. Airbnb’s was a comeback story which is about the best kind of narrative arc you can get. A little like the hero’s journey. 

How do you look at the VC landscape from a comms perspective?

It’s a really crowded landscape and hard to cut through and stand out amongst all the noise. At the same time, it’s a fascinating time for the tech industry. With AI, it feels like we are on the cusp of a revolution on par with the invention of the internet. And VC firms, particularly at the early stages, are at the cutting edge of this development. Painting a picture of where this is all going to go, not to mention, finding and backing the companies of tomorrow is all great storytelling material.

What is your view of brand?

Brand is ultimately about what you want to be known for and it should be rooted in core values and a brand narrative and then transcend through everything a firm does. Everywhere you show up should consistently reinforce this brand - it’s about how you interact with the 100s of entrepreneurs you don’t end up backing; it’s about taking the long term view and showing up for your portfolio in good times and bad; it’s about how you welcome people at your offices. And of course, brand is defined by your actions and track record - ie. investing in the category-defining companies and having the right long term LP backing.

What made you seek out the VC world and Creandum in particular?

The Airbnb journey and team I was lucky to be part of was something I just didn’t think I could replicate at another tech company. But I felt the lessons I learnt could be useful to founders closer to the start of their journeys. From the earliest conversations, I was attracted to the culture at Creandum and loved the spirit and challenger mentality. The firm also has such an incredible track record of success that more people need to know about. 

Excited to have you on board Nick!


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