Exploring VC-tech Partnerships from Both Perspectives

Exploring VC-tech Partnerships from Both Perspectives

Travis Bryant discusses his experience partnering with VC firms as a salesperson and partnering with technology companies as a VC firm.

This article is part of our VC Portfolio Relations spotlight series. Each week, a different professional joins us to share their experience partnering with organizations as a venture capital or private equity firm. Learn more in the intro article.

Travis Bryant leads Founder Experience at Redpoint Ventures. There, he works to ensure that Redpoint Ventures’ interactions with founders are designed for maximum value and utility. Today, Travis joins us to discuss his experience partnering with venture capital firms as a salesperson and partnering with technology companies as a venture capital firm.

Thanks to xAmplify for sponsoring this quarter’s spotlight series.

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Experiences on Both Sides of the Coin

Today, Travis Bryant heads up Founder Experience at Redpoint Ventures. However, he started his career as a go-to-market leader, first at Salesforce, then running global sales at Optimizely for five years. Travis’s fifteen-year career in enterprise software fueled his interest in customer-centricity and he’s now working to apply all that he learned in his role today. “Optimizely was backed by a firm called Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z), which was started under the premise that the two founders Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz built the venture capital firm they wished they had when they were founders. While a VP of Sales at Optimizely, I saw firsthand how powerful a venture platform can be. Now, at Redpoint, we want to think about the entire relationship, viewing the founder as a customer. Every touchpoint they have with our firm is one we can design for maximum value and utility for them.”

VC Partnerships as a Vehicle for Growth

Every day, venture capital firms work with companies that have the potential to become the iconic companies of the next generation. “Emotionally, the coolest part of the job is I get to sit in these pitch meetings with companies trying to create the future. Even when you’re not able to invest, you’re really inspired by the energy of entrepreneurs trying to find a better way to make the world work.”

Travis explained, “Specifically to partnerships, that vehicle of the growth strategy for a company is increasingly important. Companies are looking for more efficient ways to scale their business without hiring more people. Strong partnerships and product relationships are what make the winners in a particular market.”

Partnering with portfolio firms can be an incredibly effective channel for scaling efficiently. When approached correctly as a tech company, you can build a relationship with VCs who will then bring you into every relevant deal they’re a part of. The key here is being able to drive value for the venture firm by helping their investments save money or make more money.

When Competitors Are Allies

When you work at a software company, you typically have a clear sense of who your competitors are. That’s not the case in venture capital. “One of the dynamics I wasn’t prepared for in getting into this industry, is in venture, your competitor on one deal is your partner in another because you’re both on the board of a company. Sequoia is the gold standard of investing — I really admire the program that they built. I think of them as a competitor. Yet, in one of our portfolio companies, both one of our investors and Sequoia sit on the board of that company together. In that way, we have to partner with them and share. There isn’t pure competition, which broadly is an interesting dynamic.”

Best Practices for Pursuing Effective VC Relationships

From his time on both sides of the table, Travis shared some tactical advice for pursuing VC partnerships. “As a portfolio firm, we’re simultaneously buying and selling. We have to evaluate the potential return on investment of every opportunity. On top of that, there’s a concept of mutual benefit that needs to happen. Partnerships shouldn’t be altruistic or one-sided.”

Travis elaborated, “The obvious exchange is money, but that’s a commodity. I want us to be very thoughtful about every interaction we have with an entrepreneur to determine how we can provide value for them on top of money. Historically, capital wasn’t as free-flowing. Now the best entrepreneurs on the planet have ten term sheets. If we’re really thoughtful, curious, and enthusiastic about their business at every step, there’s a deeper exchange of value than just funding.”

For Travis, everything comes back to driving an incredible customer experience. “This idea of customer-centricity as a best practice manifests itself in all these different ways. For example, when we ask a question, we need to make sure no one else on the team has already asked. If we have asked a question, we document it so no one asks it again.”

Whether you’re a portfolio firm or a tech company, approaching every relationship with a customer-centric or partner-centric approach is the most effective way to forge valuable, long-lasting partnerships.

Expand (or Launch) Your VC Portfolio Relations

This quarter, we’re digging into insights from professionals in venture capital, private equity, and business development! Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn so you don’t miss any updates.

Partnership Leaders connections professionals from modern technology companies looking to advance in their career, expand their partner programs, and grow their organizations.

Join The 1700+ Leaders Transforming Partnerships

As a member of Partnership Leaders you will:
  • Build and learn with the top partner people at the best companies around the world.
  • Increase your impact and accelerate your career with proven resources, tools, and best practices.
  • Grow a network of peers, partners, and advisors with common objectives.

Apply for a membership here!

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