First principle: Get the product right! Building a great product that solves a real problem is unquestionably the most critical and foundational element of a great software company. It may sound simple, but it certainly isn’t easy. Long-term success requires continued innovation and both evolution of and dedication to the product strategy.
Investor principle: Get the partnership right! Elsewhere Partners strives to provide significant value-add beyond capital investment through a fusion of investor and operational expertise to its portfolio companies. While many VC firms tout operational expertise, rarely is it domain or functionally relevant. At Elsewhere Partners we have bifurcated the model. Every portfolio company benefits not only from the investment team's expertise, but also from our Operating Advisors (listed here) - highly successful software executives with a range of deep domain and functional experience. Multiple OAs are actively involved in every Elsewhere Partners portfolio company. These seasoned executives support due diligence, advise post-investment, and serve on portfolio company boards.
We match the OAs’ deep domain expertise and functional skill sets in a way that is complementary to management teams within the portfolio. This combination can be transformational for a company's growth trajectory, both in terms of go-to-market strategy and product evolution. Strong alignment is the key to a long-term, successful partnership. We believe the addition of Josh Stephens as the full-time Elsewhere CTO deeply aligns our commitment to provide transformational operational expertise with our portfolio companies’ unrelenting need to “get the product right.”
Josh has been involved as an Operating Advisor since the initial founding of Elsewhere Partners in 2015 and has advised numerous portfolio companies since. Josh is a software ninja. Spending the bulk of his career in enterprise software, Josh gained fame most notably as SolarWinds' VP of Technology and Head Geek. Red-headed avatar and all, Josh was the go-to resource for a voice-of-the-customer view, roadmap validation, creative solutions, and strategic product decision-making at the market-leading IT giant.
Since SolarWinds, Josh served as Chief Strategy Officer at both IDERA and Itential, and has been a strategic product advisor to multiple other companies, including Vyopta, ActivTrak and most recently BurstIQ. In many cases, Josh helps jump-start new Elsewhere partnerships by spending a month or two as interim Chief Product Officer or as an on-site advisor to flesh out the product offering, refine the product roadmap, optimize freemium models, and iterate on customer use cases and product positioning strategy. Importantly, Josh also assists in recruiting top engineering talent for the portfolio.
Prior to the investment from Elsewhere Partners, Vyopta had bootstrapped to millions in revenue with an impressive list of customers. It clearly got the product right in its first phase of growth, but now needed to materially expand the offering to a much larger segment of its target market. “Josh’s experience and perspective helped give our team the confidence and clarity to significantly expand our product offering, a bold and risky process that was transformational for Vyopta. His product and sector insights were invaluable,” says Alfredo Ramirez, CEO and President of Vyopta.
ActivTrak had reached more than four thousand customers without any outside capital prior to the Elsewhere Partners investment. It had clearly built a great product, but the long-term vision and near-term feature prioritization was critical to continuing the strong momentum. "Josh has been instrumental in helping shape our vision for the product and has greatly assisted in our prioritization of near-term feature updates for our target market. His big picture thinking, hands-on experience with freemium models and constant product enthusiasm has permeated across the entire company," says Rita Selvaggi, CEO of Elsewhere portfolio company ActivTrak.
“I’ve spent multiple decades contemplating product strategy and evolution challenges in various software markets. It has been incredibly rewarding to leverage that experience to help numerous entrepreneurs and executives solve similar challenges in the Elsewhere portfolio,” says Josh Stephens, CTO of Elsewhere Partners.
On-Going and Comprehensive Resource
Outside of strategic stints at portfolio companies, Josh has become instrumental in building and optimizing Elsewhere's investment pipeline. In conjunction with the investment team, Josh helps frame market trends, participates in product demos with prospective companies, and leads technical due diligence. Josh also leads the annual CTO forum for the Elsewhere portfolio.
As Elsewhere CTO, Josh's focus can flex as needed. From full architecture and code base reviews prior to investment to on-demand product strategy sessions with portfolio companies, Josh's expertise is leveraged strategically across the Elsewhere platform.
With a growing roster of Operating Advisors and Josh as CTO, Elsewhere Partners is well positioned to efficiently identify compelling investment opportunities, effectively lead all stages of due diligence, and drive transformational and sustainable growth of its portfolio companies over the long-term.
(Press release link here)