An Open Letter to Founders and CEOs

How to have a productive relationship with your private equity investor, scale up your company, and realize the business you’ve always imagined.

An Open Letter to
Founders and CEOs


You’ve built a profitable company with $10 million of revenue, maybe $20 million or $30 million, and you can see a path to $100 million and beyond. But continuing along at today’s pace just won’t get you there in a reasonable time frame.  And even if you could get there tomorrow, it’s not some threshold revenue figure that gets you out of bed in the morning. You’ve created a solution to a problem that speaks to a large group of customers. Customers who definitively would be much better off with your solution in their hands, rather than the homegrown, outdated, generic, or just plain lousy ‘solution’ to the problem they’re struggling with today. Getting your product into the hands of enough of those customers to make a real impact in the world – that’s the true goal.

Achieving that goal requires putting new processes and new people in place. Making mistakes putting those in place makes life harder and work less enjoyable as the company grows, so rather than take a risk like that, it might seem easier to just back off, and run a profitable business as it is.

But you didn’t get your Company to where it is today by standing still, you got there by the force of your desire to make an impact. Take away that driving force and an essential element will be lost. So, you look to the future, but you do not have unlimited time.  The market window may change. Competitors who see and are working on the same problem may not wait. And yet the plan to go faster is not completely set. Needed resources are missing.

I founded Strattam to help founders like you who are at this crossroads.

Over the course of 25 years, my team and I have worked in and with dozens of companies facing similar situations, and talked with leaders in thousands more. Fortunately, success stories have some predictable plotlines. From that experience, our firm, Strattam Capital, has developed an approach that the CEOs who work with us embrace and enjoy.

We like working with business leaders who have created a great solution to a hard business problem, and who have gone through the start-up phase and matured to an organization of a few dozen to a few hundred people.

Our approach, the Strattam Engagement Process, begins with agreeing a 5-Point Plan before the investment transaction is signed.  These are the five actions that would have the most positive impact on the trajectory of the company.  For each one, there is a plainly stated problem/opportunity, list of resources required, timeline, and definition of how to measure success.  We insist on this before signing.  Holding a ‘strategy offsite’ after closing is simply too late.  We agree in writing where we want to go together BEFORE we agree to the journey.

The 5-Point Plan sets up what we think is a great responsibility and communication framework, which we informally refer to as The Handshake, or our agreement as to how we will work together:

  • If your organization can achieve an initiative in the 5-Point Plan without any extra resources from Strattam, great! Go for it.
  • If you or your organization needs help with an objective, all of Strattam’s resources are at your service. Our team has diverse backgrounds, including expertise in the core functional areas that are most in demand:  Talent, Sales, Marketing, Engineering, M&A and Finance.  In addition, we have a set of specific documented processes (the Strattam Essentials) that provide modern, implementable solutions to recurring problems such as sales force compensation or building a modern marketing technology stack.

The 5-Point Plan sets the board agenda. We also schedule monthly calls on specific topic areas, for as long as is relevant.  While there are sometimes urgent topics that require immediate conversations, our experience is that setting a regular tempo, with time reserved in advance on a monthly cadence, is the most effective way to organize our communications.

From an investment perspective, we like simple capital structures, owning common stock alongside you. We believe in good governance, building boards with at least two outside, independent directors to create a balanced discussion.  And we open our network to you, to help raise your company’s profile with the groups that matter most.

You have choices about who to work with and how to lead your business forward.

The Strattam Engagement Process sets shared goals up front, and supports you with resources designed for just the kinds of challenges your company faces.

If this approach resonates, I’d love to talk with you about working together to get your solution into the hands to that big chunk of the market who desperately needs it.

Best regards,

Bob Morse
rmorse@strattam.com
Managing Partner, Strattam Capital

 

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