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Christopher Fountain headshot

Education

  • University of Michigan, BS in Industrial and Operations Engineering

Previous Relevant Experience

  • Senior Advisor at Outcome Capital
  • Ponemon Fellow at the Ponemon Institute
  • CEO and Board Member at FranConnect
  • COO at Kinnser Software
  • Board Member at Notable SolutionsCEO
  • Board Member at SecureInfo
  • COO and Board Member at KWI
  • CEO and Board Member at Digital Paper
  • EVP at POMS Corporation

Q&A

  • What convinced you to join Frontier?

    I first met Frontier in late 2014. I liked the profile of their portfolio companies and I really liked the people I met. Frontier has this incredible ethos that is very appealing to me. There's tremendous humility and respect for people. They’ve got smart, hard-working people, but they’re also interested in enjoying the process while in pursuit of lofty goals.
  • What is it about the world of private equity that you love?

    I’m a big believer in free markets and entrepreneurship. Private equity plays a key role in our free enterprise system by helping companies realize their full potential. This results in significant value creation for all stakeholders — founders, other shareholders and our partners.

    But there’s an even bigger picture. We create jobs. We—Frontier and the CEOs of these companies—build businesses. Employees working within a portfolio company are afforded exciting career opportunities along the way. It’s these high-growth companies that are a key part of the economic engine of the United States.
  • What does a typical week look like for you?

    They are pretty variable. I have a standing weekly call with each CEO where we get the chance to talk about what's on their mind. I’ll also have face-to-face time with each CEO on a regular basis. The frequency of face-to-face time varies depending upon what might be happening at the company and what would be most helpful to the CEO.

    Much of my early work with a company is about orienting the management team around a growth roadmap. As part of this, I'll act as a facilitator and bring, as appropriate, additional Frontier resources to help with this effort. It’s a process of collecting the right data, looking at it, and using what we learn to make informed decisions around where to focus and what to prioritize over a three- to five-year horizon.

    Beyond this, there will be the inevitable issues that pop up that a CEO may need to bounce off me. That’s why it’s important that I’m readily accessible to the CEOs.
  • How long have you worked in private equity?

    I first worked with a venture-backed business in 1991. Since then, I’ve worked exclusively with private equity- or venture capital-backed companies.

    During my career, I’ve had the pleasure to work with teams who achieved great success, including one business that delivered a 10x return to investors in just three years and another business that completed a successful IPO. I’ve also worked with leadership teams to take companies through major rebuilds— turning companies around to reignite growth and drive profitability.

    While I’ve seen success, I’ve also been part of companies that didn’t perform so well. That’s important because you learn just as much from the failures as you do from the successes—and possibly more. That’s when you need to keep your eyes on the horizon, stay focused and get the right people around you. One thing I know is success comes from dedicated people working as a team.
  • And what is it about the world of SaaS that you find exciting?

    I've been in software my whole career and it's changed an incredible amount.

    In the past, we’d have to physically ship software to somebody. Now, with the cloud, you have an optimal delivery mechanism for both customer and supplier. Customers are not faced with large up front capital purchases, reducing their risk, and suppliers stay focused on delivering value to their customers. When the SaaS business is successful, revenues are very predictable and gross margins are high, which is why these businesses are so valuable.
  • What are your ambitions for your portfolio companies?

    Well, of course I want my companies to realize high growth and generate healthy cash returns on the investment. But it’s more than that. I want the management teams with whom I work to feel a huge sense of achievement for all their hard work. They are the ones that make it happen.

    We're sounding boards, advisors, coaches. We're not doing the work. Having been an operator, I know that when you build successful teams and businesses, it's an amazing thing.

    Ultimately, when our time together is over, I want them to feel that Frontier was a great partner on the journey.

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