Scott Johnson and Pete Gombert know plenty about how to run successful start-up and growth stage companies.
But that doesn’t mean that the two executives don’t mind having a like-minded advisor to bounce ideas off of every once and while.
That’s exactly what they have in OpenView Venture Partners Firas Raouf and George Roberts. When both AtTask and Balihoo joined OpenView’s portfolio at different points in the last few years, the CEOs were paired up with George and Firas, respectively, to provide a mentor-mentee relationship as part of the firm’s high level Engagement Model. Both Johnson and Gombert had their doubts initially, but couldn’t be happier with that model’s results.
“At first, you’re not really sure if they’re going to come in heavy-handed and try to really shake things up,” Johnson says. “We were a pretty young company with a small management team. So adding a new dynamic to it created a big question mark. But almost immediately we saw the value in their approach. We’re a better company because of my relationship with Firas. When we have issues that need to be resolved, he’s right there with solutions we can put in place to solve them.”
That’s the idea. With the Engagement Model, OpenView’s venture partners aren’t asked to be dictators, they’re designed to be collaborators. In addition to investment research and filling a seat on the company’s board of directors, the Venture Partners main goal is to be a trusted advisor.
“We wear a few different hats, but the general premise of the Engagement Model is to offer open ears and sound advice,” Firas says. “We’re not here to run the companies for them, but I think we do possess the operational expertise that can help them get past certain issues that a lot of expansion stage companies face.”
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