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Q&A with the Co-Founder
What did you expect going into the deal? What was the reality?When we were first looking into it, everybody always talks about what their value-adds are. But the question is, how do they actually do it? There were a whole range of playbooks. Some would want to pursue pretty aggressive rollout strategies. Some would want to tuck you into their portfolio and so on.
We wanted to fully control our own destiny as a business. We wanted to find a partner that would capitalize us to do whatever made the most sense in the next phase for the business.
Was there any sort of inflection point that made you seriously look at investment?We had a lot of options for the business. We were venture backed before and had gone up to a series A round. So I think fairly conventional wisdom would have been to go do another venture round, which is certainly something we considered.
We also looked at whether we could find one specific partner that wanted to be with us for the long-term. One that was really excited about where the business was and where it could go, and who could also bring in some new ideas.
And that’s just the way that it worked out with Frontier.
One thing I really, really love about Frontier is how founder and entrepreneur friendly they are. There's just a reverence in the company for founders and entrepreneurs. That is really exciting to work with. It helped us recognize that they are going to be in it for the long haul with us.
What made Frontier stand out?What we quickly learned is that all of these funds have access to a lot of money. So the differentiator is not capital, it is their philosophy towards growth. It is the type of companies they invest in. And it really is the learned experiences within the firm.
With Frontier, I could immediately tell that they weren't just sizing us up as an investment. They really wanted to understand if they could work with us and whether we would be open to their value add. It was exactly what we were looking for—a partner that could help us accentuate our strengths but also complement our weaknesses.
What were the main business challenges that the partnership with Frontier helped to address?I think a constant opportunity for every business is getting great leadership onboard and Frontier has brought in a very clear process on how to assess talent. It has been a breath of fresh air because their Growth Partners are experts in functional areas such as HR.
It means if there are key hires that we want to move on, we have this great partner that can make sure that candidates have the characteristics that are most often aligned with success. Ultimately, it's the business's decision, but it's really great to have that structure and insight into what has worked well in other companies.
Operationally, what were the key levers of your growth after becoming a portfolio company?It starts with a go to market strategy that is right sized for our organization, which accentuates our strengths and mitigates our weaknesses. It’s a plan we can execute against and then be held accountable to. It gives us a strategic lens to evaluate decisions.
What that does is give us clarity—whether we should build a feature or acquire a company or partner more or exit that segment altogether and focus on an area of higher leverage.
It comes down to: Who are you selling to? What are we selling? And who's on the team selling it? Frontier supports us in all those areas.
Did you use Frontier’s Operating Partners? What value did they bring?A key area has been HR. As part of ensuring our team has the skills we need, we’ve been taking advantage of a cross-portfolio management training program called Foundations of Leadership that was created by Rob Smalling, a Frontier Growth Partner focused on talent.
At first we sent three of our managers to Charlotte for a day-and-a-half to learn what we're doing well and where we need to improve. We were so impressed by the results that we're now having Frontier come in to run that same curriculum for all of our 15 mid-level managers.
That’s hugely valuable, especially because one of the things that we talked about with employees when we did the investment was that this was going to create new leadership opportunities. That's something we're really excited about.
What would you advise other businesses like yours to focus on in finding the right growth equity partner?I think it's really important people speak with the founders and look at the businesses that they invest in.
So, if you're between $10 million and $25 million in recurring revenue, and a firm typically only invests in companies of $50 million or above, you're going to be outside their core capability.
As such, you may not have great experience if the firm has a playbook that they want to implement on every investment they take on.
What I liked about Frontier is that they have these plays, but it's not a playbook. They look at all the different functional areas where companies need to level up to realize their full potential and then they customize the plays around the needs of the business.
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