Working with us

Founding and scaling a company is hard. We’ve been there. Over the past decade, we have made every mistake in the book - in some cases several times. We also got a few things right. Our goal as Operator Partners is to provide perspective and guidance from our own entrepreneurial experiences to help you in yours. 

 

Below are some of the areas where we commonly engage with our founders (focus will vary by industry and stage):

Inception, Early Product & Customer Work

  • Evaluating early product iterations - is the initial product wedge sound? Is it strong enough to get preliminary traction in market vs. competition? If not, what are paths to better customer or user feedback?

 

  • Introductions to early customers, domain experts, and potential co-founders / founding employees

  • Help with initial customer development best practices (e.g. in enterprise SaaS, first 10 customers before establishing a sales team or defined sales process)  

  • Product marketing and sales positioning - how do you communicate value when the product is extremely nascent?

Fundraising

  • Crafting the story - how does the pitch shift from pre-seed to seed to Series A and beyond?

  • Developing the target investor list and making introductions to potential leads and strategic angels

 

  • Fundraising process - which firms do we target and when? 

 

  • Advice on term sheet negotiations - how to maximize round terms, not just financial terms

Recruiting

  • Building a recruiting culture - how do you make recruiting a competitive advantage?

 

  • Defining hiring sequence / strategy and interview structures 

  • Building out job descriptions and helping articulate target role profiles

  • Assisting in candidates CV reviews, interpreting interview performance, and advising on hiring decisions

  • Interviewing and helping close candidates (“reverse interview” process)

  • Sharing job descriptions with the partners' network and referring candidates

Establishing a People Organization

  • Advise on when and how to recruit people leaders (functional leaders, Chief People Officer, etc.)

  • Help design company ladders, compensation bands and performance review processes 

 

  • Establish employee experience best practices. How do you establish excellence in all employee processes from signed offer letters through offboarding?

  • Building a Learning and Development function: pre-start date education, first 30 day onboarding, 100 day goal setting and check-ins, talent planning for new functions vs. mature functions, learning and development programs, executive coaching, identifying rising stars, etc.

Culture, Culture, Culture

  • How to develop a culture that acts as a moat vs. competition 

  • Culture iteration over time (thinking of culture as a product that is planned, measured and iterated on)

  • Company values - How do you make values actionable and memorable at the same time? Thinking of values as behaviors you want to encourage from employees

Strategic Partnerships & BD

  • Provide guidance on strategic partnership execution, governance strategy and key term negotiation (exclusivity, payment minimums, wind down periods, customer messaging, etc.)

  • Evaluating equity investments from strategics - when should we consider? Does it matter if they’re a lead check vs. a smaller check? Can we tie investment to a commercial partnership with proper incentives? 

Building Security and Compliance Programs

  • Support key investment decisions (scoping a program, balancing between services, tooling, and hiring, vendor selection and evaluation)

  • Support team building (interviewing, organization design)

  • Help with information security architecture (e.g. build vs. buy decisions, tooling selection)

Investor & Board Management

  • Founder compensation negotiations with investors/board

  • Guidance and strategy on how to structure investor updates, board materials and board meetings

  • Independent directors - who and when? How do you balance strategic advice with board control? How do you diligence potential directors appropriately?

 

  • Serve as a sounding board if (but more likely when) challenging board dynamics arise

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