Why I Joined Companyon Ventures as Operating Partner
By: David McFarlane
This is the story of how I have found my ikigai, my raison d'être, as the Operating Partner at Companyon Ventures.
For thirty years, I have enjoyed the often challenging role of President/COO/CEO, alongside a founder who wants to scale their business. I have built business models ranging from commercial open source, self-serve, inside sales, and enterprise sales. I have worked with passionate teams to scale business from PowerPoint to $100million ARR, taken them public, enjoyed multi-billion dollar valuations and multiple M&A or PE exits, and sadly, some that went nowhere.
Whilst I have learned many different SaaS techniques and models, what has always stuck with me most is the tremendous emotional and psychological shift that a pre-Series A company, especially the founders, has to go through to build a more scalable company.
As a President/COO/CEO working alongside a founder I have practiced how to coach a founding team through that organizational transition so that they are ready and excited to leverage the techniques and know-how we can bring to the opportunity. Think of it like muscles and tendons. You bring all the different resources and know-how to supercharge a sales motion (muscle), but if you haven't strengthened your management to engage that growth (tendons) you're going to have a nasty injury. My passion has been learning how to strengthen the management ‘tendons’ while growing the go-to-market (GTM) ‘muscle’ of an early expansion company.
Companyon, seeing the same challenge, created the Companyon Platform Team, a coalition of experienced startup operators and consultants, who can de-risk execution and then augment the precious few resources available to our companies through the fractional use of subject matter experts to deliver tactical execution of work. In addition to the Platform Team, Companyon also built a roster of fund investors known as Venture Partners who are able to lend their advice, expertise, and networks to the firm and its portfolio companies. I started my relationship with Companyon as a Venture Partner before jumping all in as the Operating Partner.
As the Operating Partner at Companyon Ventures, I get to carefully curate the Companyon Platform Team for each unique portfolio company’s needs. Rather than working exclusively with one company for 3-4 years, I can accelerate multiple companies at a time, leveraging a pool of experienced Venture Partners impassioned to share their know-how with fellow entrepreneurs and a team of carefully curated service providers who know how to execute the GTM Strategy and pass on that know-how.
What makes Companyon different is its laser focus on that critical transition from product-market-fit to early-expansion-stage when a company needs to establish a scalable GTM motion for the first time. Every business has a different need in building that capability. Because Companyon doesn't have a dedicated growth team, it's not in the “everything is a nail and needs a hammer” mode. Instead, at Companyon we can bring together the right mix of venture partners with deep domain knowledge and execution partners to deliver on the strategy.
For each new investment, we use the due diligence process to not only assess the viability of each investment outcome but to jumpstart the acceleration of the company's GTM Motion. While other investors are focused on legal docs, market reports, and the cap table, Companyon is already building the GTM muscle. It's an integral part of our assessment and it's quite common for our companies to engage the Platform Team ahead of the investment funding. With only a short window to the subsequent Series-A investment milestone, Companyon portfolio companies get an important head start.
For me, the Operating Partner role at Companyon Ventures is the perfect blend of go-to-market strategy with organizational development toward a clear goal of value creation. If you would like to connect (or reconnect), please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.
David McFarlane is the Operating Partner at Companyon Ventures, supporting B2B software startups into their expansion-stage by injecting decades of startup experience. The Boston-based firm leads post-seed, pre-expansion rounds in capital-efficient startups across North America that are ready to scale. Companyon’s capital and expertise help scale portfolio companies into a supersized Series A or non-dilutive growth. The firm invests in startups with $1-3M in recurring revenue aiming to scale by 2-3x in the first year with help from its growth-ops Platform Team that offers experience, tools, and playbooks used in top-performing software startups.