I’ve struggled mightily with this question.
Conventional classifications don’t quite fit: investment banking, venture capital, consulting.
Merchant banking comes the closest. We are like the early merchant bankers who provided capital and advice for high-risk trade expeditions searching for gold, spices, and valuable commodities in the New World.
Except that we actually go on the expeditions as our form of risk capital. Does that make us mercenaries? Or maybe samurai. Co-venturers. Co-founders.
Please humor a flight of imagination:
"We arm, outfit and guide expeditions to help insurgent tribal chieftains seize under- and un-exploited lands in the guerilla-infested battlegrounds where the kingdoms of media, entertainment and technology continue to wage war. Our weapons include Ruby, Rails, SMS, J2ME, VXML, Ajax, BREW, SIP, IVR wielded by a scraggly-haired, demin- and black-garbed guerilla band that eschews uniforms for native garb and listens to different beats at the same time. Although we’re small, we can assemble a powerful force quickly when we use our large network of old allies to assemble new alliances and partnerships on the fly. Most importantly, we create growing and sustainable encampments. We use our administrative expertise to design and build fortifications and infrastructure, commence trade, install a financial system, put in place social services and engender a culture."