Creating a successful business is hard. Really hard.
Hitting revenue, scaling for growth, finding and keeping good talent, creating a strong culture, and then finding (the right) investors…
There’s just no ‘silver bullet’ for success. But there are essential ingredients.
Every business needs to know their ‘value-add.’
For us, we’re a venture capital firm that shares a name with Telstra – Australia’s largest Telco. While we run independently, we collaborate closely.
It’s this connection to Telstra, and our global channel partners, that helps our portfolio companies succeed where others may fail.
Global enterprises look to us to understand what’s going on in the market, and what tools they might need for the future.
So, Telstra and our channel partners, are both a potential sales channel and customer for our investees in Australia and internationally.
This gives us a unique advantage to fast-track due diligence to figure out whether the solutions being created by potential investments are the right fit for the market.
The key to this relationship is that we know the CXOs and the problems they need to solve. We’ve proven this by generating revenue for our portfolio companies consistently since Telstra Ventures’ inception in 2011.
We look for investments that are in the Series A, B and C funding rounds, and entrepreneurs with a proven enterprise-ready solution, demonstrated product leadership, an appealing market and a strong executive team.
In ten years, we have made 74 investments. We’re proud to have companies like Box, Snap, BigCommerce, Skillz, Auth0, DocuSign, Whispir, CrowdStrike, GitLab and HealthEngine in our portfolio.
But having 30 liquidity events and 12 unicorns across our portfolio, isn’t what makes us special.
Our ‘special sauce’ is being able to drive significant investment returns for our portfolio companies.
Our “RBR” team has a single purpose – to work with our portfolio companies to drive returns and help them achieve revenue. In other words, leverage our ‘revenue bearing relationships’ for our investments to succeed.
That success is more than just connecting our investments with the right execs or buyers – it’s about building channels to market and help them grow their sales pipeline and then helping them close that pipeline.
If we can help our investments become more commercially successful, the upside is the increased valuation of that company.
There aren’t many VCs can honestly say that they’ve delivered US$355 million of revenue to their portfolio. We are incredibly excited to help our companies be successful.
We don’t just look for innovative technologies but also innovative founders. This means that our team is quite open-minded.
Some businesses may not tick all the boxes in venture capital and may seem quite disorganized – but end up creating something extraordinary.
Part of this is finding businesses that are solving big problems in a differentiated way. Founders that solve big problems are the ones that we want to talk to.
A big part of our due diligence is checking if we agree with the company’s competitive advantage – do we see the same pain points that they see? Do we agree that the problem they are solving has a mass-market fit?
We do a tremendous amount of research and have an incredible data science team that helps us understand the level of product differentiation and the market dynamics. That also usually involves the early founding team having a genuine connection with the problem they’re solving.
While many companies are looking for an investment that claim to have the ‘coolest new tech,’ the most significant successes come to founders who have experienced the problems they are trying to solve firsthand.
An example in our portfolio is HealthEngine – Australia’s #1 healthcare appointments marketplace. The founder was and continues to be a GP.
HealthEngine was created when the founder learned that there wasn’t a directory of doctor referrals stored in one place. He realized that making the booking seamless and being much more consumer-centric was the solution. So, he created a physical book that then went online.
Every business is challenging, so if you’re going to be a founder and solve a problem, focus on solving a big one.
An example in our portfolio is endpoint security vendor CrowdStrike. They have a genuinely differentiated product in which we saw promise and invested. We continue to work with CrowdStrike, and others in our portfolio, long after our returns have been realized.
While our approach isn’t a ‘silver bullet’ for business success – it does help our portfolio companies achieve their dreams.
And that is a win-win.