Software CEO Shares Insight on When VC Means Value Add
Did you ever run across an organization that you want to model your business against because they just get it? Well, I have and for me that organization is OpenView Venture Partners.
OpenView is focused on finding, capitalizing and assisting expansion stage technology companies on accelerating their journey toward market leading companies.
We find them to be open, sharing, knowledgeable and some of the best networkers around. Since we have a love fest going with them, we wondered if their portfolio companies feel the same way. So I asked if we could interview one.
What follows is a conversation with Isaac Garcia, Co-Founder & CEO of Central Desktop.
Central Desktop delivers a cloud-based social collaboration platform that allows people to connect and share information to drive profitable business results.
Heads up all you technology companies considering funding…. you may want to keep reading and add OpenView to your list!
Hi Issac, thanks for joining us. How were you introduced to OpenView and what made you choose them?
The story starts a few years ago in early 2005. We are in an interesting space in that we are a SaaS based online collaboration solution and I think our solution was part of our appeal to them at the beginning. OpenView did a lot of outbound calling in those days and they reached out to us even though it was too early to talk about funding.
Over the next several years they maintained the relationship and we chatted quarterly. Three years later we needed capital. There were other venture firms interested in us but we felt like we had an existing relationship with OpenView. They invested in that relationship before a return on investment was there for them.
What makes OpenView different?
One of their differentiators is their CEO Forums. We were invited to those Forums even before the investment. This really enabled us to get to know the partners as well as the other portfolio companies. They were, and are, interested in a relationship with us that is honest, open and professional. I have colleagues that have friction with their venture partners particularly those with board seats… that is not an issue for us.
We also liked the fact that they are a smaller fund. We did not want board members that sit on 7 or 8 boards and have to spread their attention thin.
Finally, they believed in our space and really are founder/entrepreneur focused.
OpenView offers their portfolio access to OpenView Labs. How did you use that group?
We used the Lab in several ways:
- They assisted us with recruiting.
They acted as a screener and found new hires – sales reps, developers, even an in-house recruiter. They did the initial canvassing and got involved in the interview process. When we finally brought the function in house we had best practices developed and in place.
- They helped us with messaging.
They went out to our customers and asked them to describe Central Desktops competitive advantage. They aggregated great information and we incorporated it into our messaging.
- Probably the most impactful service was their Pilot Program Lab.
They hired 2 Outbound Sales Development Reps and for 3 months they worked out of Boston. They did coaching, wrote scripts, collected metrics and managed the team.
Now we have 8 outbound reps in California. Our strategy has two flavors… one is “try and buy” and then of course we try to upgrade. The other is outbound focused on solutions in specific markets. We are growing quickly and currently have about 3K customers.
What the Lab did for us was assist in our time to market by developing best practices and structure. There were not a lot of dollar results from those efforts but we have finessed what they did since then to our benefit.
What would you say to other companies looking for funding?
Pick some firms you want to work with and get on their radar early before you need funding. Develop relationships so that you know what you need, what you will get and who you will be working with.
Thanks so much to Issac. This was great! Like I said, we respect the team at OpenView and if you are an expansion stage software companies company you should check them out. (Even if you aren’t, they do a great job of sharing information well beyond their portfolio companies.)
So, what do you think? Any of this ring true for your company? I would love to read your thoughts and experiences in the comments. Thanks!