A few weeks into the job and I’m already starting to see interesting situations where OpenView can add significant value.
Many firms with which I talk are interested to hear our value-added approach. In addition to investing expansion capital, we get “hands-on” and do whatever it takes to build our portfolio companies via our Labs team. Though Labs has done all types of projects (see case studies), they often focus on accelerating sales & marketing, which tend to be a key bottleneck for growth at the expansion stage.
Roughly speaking, the companies with which I talk move through similar cycles: first, an entrepreneur will focus on building a product and developing the market for that product. Once entrepreneurs find a good product-market fit, they’ll start focusing on building out their sales capabilities to push as much product as possible.
Often companies may choose to navigate this organically by growing slowly and taking small steps. Assuming they’re profitable (or have deep pockets), this is a fine strategy for building a nice business that scales over time. In fact, maybe 15-20% of the companies with which I speak fit in this category so far.
On the other hand, you have entrepreneurs that want to swing for the bleachers and hit a home run. They want to scale sales and marketing as fast as possible and capture all of the big markets out there to really make an impact. Our Labs model works great for these as we bring veterans of the sales industry – former Execs such as Brian Zimmerman and George Roberts – to add tangible value. Maybe 30% of the companies with which I talk are shooting for this and bring it up in our conversations. (Of course, a good portion of the remaining companies may have these goals as well.)
Conversely, there are the companies in the remainder – the ‘gray area’. These range in maturity, market readiness, sales capability and goals. Chances are, these companies could really benefit from a conversation with us to figure out which direction they want to move. And odds are that our Labs team could add value to most—if not all—of these companies as well. If you find yourself in this gray zone, give me a call – we’ll chat and figure out the best way to move forward.