We’ve just hired Siobhan to support the development of sales and go-to-market (GTM) strategies for our portfolio. It’s part of our commitment to try and de-risk early stage technology companies by surrounding them with consultative support and expertise at key milestones. GTM development – along with the talent agenda and operational planning – are the biggest hurdles early stage firms wrestle with. We’ve just seen too many companies at this stage hire sales teams too early, focus on the wrong use cases or allow their product vision to be compromised by the whiles of a large shiny corporate.
This is something Siobhan is amply qualified to do. She has run her own business in Silicon Valley for the last couple of years doing just this for this stage of company. She’s very hands-on, getting involved with early conversations and helping turn them into deals. She and I also worked together for many years – we were both part of the strategy team at Cisco in various guises. Introducing existing businesses in new markets and working on a fair amount of crazy new businesses anywhere we could get traction. Security, video, software, services and cloud, in US, EMEA, APAC or China – pick your combination and we are sure to have worked on it at sometime.
Its kind of fun as we set out to work together again to reflect on what I really like about Siobhan. She is certainly up for an adventure – I can remember when she started working for me in Singapore as a junior analyst and joined the senior management team for the region. She dived in, unafraid and unintimidated, and very soon became indispensible – and that in a region full of personalities not known for their strong welcome of outsiders. She’s curious also, and easy to work with – Siobhan was always happy to work with minimal supervision and direction. Which certainly suited me.
Most of all though it is her judgment – and in particular her people skills – that I value. Send her to a conference and she’ll come back with many more business cards than you will, ask her to represent you at a dinner and you’ll get nothing but compliments. At our AGM a few weeks ago – and this still a week or so before her official start date – I think she knew more of the staff at our portfolio companies than I did. She did pretty well with the other investors that were in the room as well. The other morning (two days after joining) she was chatting in Gaelic to our doorman. And he’s from Somalia.
And that of course is the real point – in the end this is a business that is all about people. The people you work with – and perhaps more importantly the people you choose to invest in. If you can improve your decision making of which founders to back, be better at identifying what their needs and blind spots are, and have good insight into how to get them to take corrective action, you are significantly ahead of the game. And that is what we are looking to Siobhan to help with. She’s great at Enterprise sales models – she’s world-class at people-insights.
Siobhan moved back to the UK to take up this role with Episode 1 – which in itself is pretty exciting– so she’s back home at least for a while. We have high expectations about the impact she is going to have, and we couldn’t be more excited to have her join the team.