By Doug Chambers
Most first-time entrepreneurs find themselves focused on finding investment capital. ANY investment capital. We were no different. All money is green, we reasoned, and besides – we knew what needed to get done to grow a big business – we just needed someone to fund our idea!
Sure, we heard the advice from other founders who were further along and more experienced:
“Make sure you find good investors”
“Find investors who understand your space”
“You need an investor who really cares about your business”
While that advice made sense on the surface, inside we were usually thinking, “Sounds great, but this whole raising money thing is hard ENOUGH. We’ll take what we can get!”
So instead of being one of those ‘further along founders’ repeating the same advice, I’ll just tell a quick story. Do with it what you will.
About a year and a half ago Brad Svrluga from High Peaks Venture Partners (one of our major investors and a director on our board) cautiously told me there was a guy he wanted me to meet. This guy was a very well respected and experienced product manager. Brad was cautious making this recommendation because like most founders I was currently serving as Head of Product, Head of Marketing, Head of Sales, CEO, head janitor and guy who buys beer on Fridays (this being arguably my most important role). The product was my baby and I was super protective of it. Brad knew that, but he was smart enough to know it would be impossible for me to lead this company while effectively managing product along with all of the other stuff I was juggling.
So I took Brad’s advice and met the guy. And like most meetings with really experienced folks in the tech space I walked away humbled and impressed. We needed a product manager, stat! It opened my eyes to how a great product manager can really get a product to where it needs to be. And while this particular person didn’t end up joining our team, it wasn’t long before I was sitting down with Julian Clayton hammering out the details of having him join FieldLens. Julian is now our Director of Product and his impact on FieldLens is incalculable – we simply would not be the company we are today without him.
But the story does not end there.
Through the High Peaks network of portfolio companies (and Brad’s efforts to bring us together to share best practices and learn from industry leaders) I’ve become friendly with a few other founders/CEOs. Speaking to one of these CEO’s, I learned he was looking to add more senior leadership to his team, and it seemed like a good chance to connect him with the product manager Brad had introduced me to earlier. Within a few meetings between the two of them, that product manager had joined said CEO’s company.
But again, the story is not over…
Our team is growing and Julian is faced with transitioning 12 engineers to 20+ in the very near future. That type of transition is fraught with complexities both from a hiring/cultural perspective as well as from a product management perspective. Because of the original introduction with that extremely experienced product manager from the beginning of the story, I was able to put Julian in touch with him for some advice. They had a great meeting and Julian walked away with some awesome strategies to manage this transition – and he made a great connection too.
So what is the central theme threading this story together? Brad at High Peaks. He’s one person – the right person. He gets it and he understands our company’s immediate and long term needs, and knows what to do to help make a big impact on how we operate. And his well thought out introduction over a year ago didn’t just help us, it helped another great company too!
Now what didn’t I mention during the telling of this story? Investment capital.
All investors are not created equal. And capital is just part of the story.