There’s something truly unique about being part of a fast growing startup from the early days. The journey from problem discovery and product development through to mastering product market fit, growth and scaling – and the ups, downs and pivots that come with it – is a learning curve like no other.
Having spent five years heading up marketing for BookingBug, one of the UK’s fastest growing technology companies, this journey is an experience that is very close to my heart. When I joined BookingBug we were a team of six with a great product and seriously big ambitions. Today the team is 100 strong, with offices in London, Boston and Sydney and an impressive customer list that includes many of the biggest names in financial services, retail, telecommunications and government around the globe. Now I’m lucky enough to be here at Notion Capital working alongside 30+ of the hottest B2B SaaS companies in Europe, all on that same journey.
Since joining the Notion Platform team earlier this month, it has been fascinating to learn just how the experience of being part of a fast growing company and the insights that come with it can be applied in a much broader context. So, three weeks into life at Notion, what have some of my key leanings been so far?
We’re all in this together
When you live and breathe a fast-paced growing business, it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of believing the challenges you face are new or unique to your business. In reality however, it’s unlikely you’re the first founder or team to go through this. Someone out there has already almost certainly faced the challenge you’re currently battling and found a solution. Or faced it and made mistakes. Both of which are hugely valuable opportunities to learn.
And that’s the crux of what makes Notion Capital’s approach really special. It has built a portfolio of businesses with a narrow profile, investing exclusively European B2B SaaS companies at seed and Series A. This narrow focus means it’s possible to identify patterns in challenges and needs in a systematic and meaningful way, then deliver highly targeted, highly relevant support at the right time to the right people.
Building a true platform for success
Notion’s laser focus on B2B SaaS and enterprise software, along with the team’s hands-on experiences founding, running and scaling hugely successful SaaS businesses means we are uniquely positioned to build a platform to encapsulate Notion’s strategy as a value-add investor.
My brief here at Notion is simple: to maximise the value of the Notion Platform to everyone within the ecosystem – our portfolio companies, their founders and management teams, Notion partners, experts, ambassadors, future execs, NEDs and chairs and of course the Notion team itself.
In practice, this means developing the Platform, making it more accessible, building out the content, connections and the network itself to create something that has a seriously positive, demonstrable impact on everyone involved.
This is an immensely exciting challenge for me. What we’re creating here feels like unique value-add. It’s something that many VCs talk about, but few have yet managed to build and activate in an efficient and scalable way.
It all comes down to exceptional people
I was lucky enough to meet many of of the founders and leaders of Notion Capital’s portfolio companies last week at our first Founder’s Retreat. It provided an opportunity for all to take some time away from their to-do lists to learn, share successes and war stories, participate in sessions with some hugely inspirational speakers and make new connections. It was an action packed two-day getaway, and on a personal level provided me with the best possible introduction to the Notion ecosystem.
I was struck by what an utterly incredible group of people we had in attendance. The amount of brainpower, experience and ambition in the room was simply phenomenal. It was amazing to see the group grilling our speakers, debating, learning sharing and building new relationships.
It’s very clear to me that this is something really quite special – and that the exceptional people within the Notion ecosystem reach beyond the entrepreneurs we work with. The Notion partner network is made up of savvy organisations with deep insight into B2B SaaS with highly-relevant experience covering legal, branding, business development, executive search, marketing and beyond. Likewise, Notion’s growing network of experts is made up from Europe’s brightest strategic minds, who are on hand to deliver education and mentorship to our portfolio across a diverse range of specific domains.
Being surrounded by such talent, enthusiasm and potential is hugely inspiring and I’m excited to be part of growing something that feels truly industry changing.
Something founders love
Finally, the thing that has perhaps surprised me most over the past few weeks – in a really great way – is how highly the founders we work with speak about their experiences working with Notion and the value they get through being part of the wider Notion family. This is incredibly powerful. To me it highlights a genuine two-way trust and respect between the team here at Notion and the companies we invest in and work with. “Build a product that your customers love” is a familiar adage in SaaS and it’s great to see that extending beyond technology into investment.
Three weeks into joining the Notion team, it’s clear the European SaaS space is an exciting place to be right now. There’s a growing community of hugely successful companies run by experienced, inspirational founders and leadership teams – and many many more growing and scaling that are doing incredible things and are well on the road to becoming some of Europe’s biggest technology success stories. The more we can all learn from each other’s experiences, successes and failures and share that knowledge with others, the stronger we are all together.
I’m very excited to be able to build on and scale the Notion Platform, working with and support outstanding entrepreneurs as they raise the bar in B2B technology, creating the next generation of world-class SaaS companies. There’s lots of work to be done and we have some seriously big plans for next year, so watch this space for more on what’s coming in 2017 soon.
Posted by Kate Hyslop, Platform Success Manager at Notion Capital.