Where it all started — our first family computer, the Sharp MZ80K.
In my career as an Operating Executive, outside of the annual trade shows I didn’t attend many events, mostly due to guilt. Guilt that I should be interviewing talent, talking with a prospect, solving a customers problem — basically guilt that I was wasting time that should be focused on building my business. But in 2012 curiosity did lead me to attend one evening event that opened my eyes to the promise of software in Europe, specifically SaaS, and it was here I met Chris Tottman and first heard about the ambitions of Notion. Hearing SaaS in 2012 was exciting, hearing about a VC fund in Europe championing SaaS was even more exciting, but the best part was that this fund was ex-operators. They knew the pain of scale, and my connection with them was instant, enduring through each of my scaling journeys.
As an operating executive helping to scale Ariba, SuccessFactors, Bazaarvoice, Workday and Hortonworks from startup through to their respective IPO journeys, I am truly excited to be moving to an Operating Partner role with Notion Capital. Over the last 4 years i’ve immersed myself in the startup ecosystem in the UK and Europe, building a network of founders, operators, incubators and VC’s, often investing with and along side them. But the most rewarding part by far has been paying forward my scaling expertise by working closely with founders at companies such as Topia, Onfido and Tessian and seeing their breakout success. And this is the bullseye that being an Operating Partner at Notion gives me; working with SaaS founders in the UK and Europe scaling from series A to B, and B to C.
As well as building an investment team with deep operator roots, Notion has also built an impressive platform team. Notion Platform offers deep expertise and insights across talent, product, go-to-market and much more, it’s great to see true value add in action across the portfolio companies. Since the beginning of this year i’ve had the privilege of getting to go deep with companies such as Panaseer and New Vector, bringing all these experiences to life in their growth stories.
Commercially focused leadership has been my absolute passion for the last 20 years and I cannot wait to use these experiences with the very best teams in the Notion family. Business models are evolving at a rapid rate, and no two businesses are ever the same, but common theme’s do emerge — and I say often say to founders, let’s make new mistakes, not the ones i’ve made before! We’re very fortunate to have such a wide and diverse network at Notion that we can leverage into that A to B and B to C story, especially for technical founders who want to build a world-class GTM utilising the best talent.
In these ‘new normal’ times, building a capital efficient business is an imperative, and i’m thrilled to see founders now rise to that challenge. Growth at any cost is now growth at efficient cost, with Boards and Executive Leadership teams really getting to grips with CAC, LTV and NVR metrics. I’m thrilled to see the evolution of Boards in the UK and Europe rise to this challenge, with the quality of data and discussion going up every day. Board diversity is imperative, both with a mix of investors, operators and non-execs, plus backgrounds and perspectives.
And that leads me to Diversity, a word that the VC community often use but rarely practice. As founders of Included.vc I see this in action every day at Notion, and love the passionate debates this invokes. I’ve seen first hand the power of businesses built by minority founders, and am genuinely excited by what the current and next cohort at Included can achieve. Diversity of thinking, backgrounds, education, environment and style often leads to outside success.
Operating Partners are a rare and new phenomenon in Europe — I look forward to leading that charge with Notion as we continue to build extraordinary businesses.