Operationally focused growth equity shops?

I see growth shops that advertise their operational capabilities / expertise, but how many of these firms actually change / have an influence on operations, especially if they are a minority investor or are one of a number of VC/growth investors in the portco (appreciating it probably varies a lot from portco to portco)?

I assume some of the bigger folks like GA or TCV actually help improve GTM and such? I have looked at a number of growth fund's sites, but would appreciate any honest insight into this and any growth shops that are known for getting in the weeds and actually helping improve operations. I am interested in the growth space, but want to do more than just write a check and rely exclusive on top line growth (if this type of shop even exists). 

Comments (8)

Sep 2, 2021 - 7:41am

It's actually less likely to be the name-brand funds chasing unicorns like you outlined. As you mentioned, it's tough to be focused on ops when you're the 8th investor in and own <10% of the company. 

the most ops-oriented guys will be the growth investors focused on control deals in bootstrapped, lower growth businesses. Mainsail, Marlin, Clearlake, Siris are good places to start 

Sep 2, 2021 - 11:16pm

You'll want to start by looking at funds that do not have a separate operational team (like Insight). If they do, that team will do all of the operational work as opposed to the investment team. 

One helpful key is to look at the Partner pedigree. For example, Activant Capital in NYC is known for getting pretty involved in their portfolio. Associates are encouraged to get involved in this type of work. Steve Sarracino (ex McKinsey) is well known for having strong opinions (look him up on VCguide.co - reviews of VC's) and one of the Partners is a former McKinsey senior partner. FYI Activant's performance has also been phenomenal - would highly recommend this place. I am told they do a lot of fintech.

Sep 2, 2021 - 11:29pm

Just to add to this: if you join a relatively new fund (or a smaller one), you might get more access to the portfolio companies just as a function of being at a smaller fund. The Partners would be more inclined to introduce you to higher ups there. I know quite a few peers who are Associates at newer/smaller funds that have gained quite a bit of access to portfolio company work.

Goodwater Capital is a VC/Growth Equity firm where you can get a fair bit of portfolio work. They do seed and above. Focus is on Consumer. One of the Partners is ex-McKinsey. 

I have heard anecdotally that Picus Capital, which frequently takes interns, allows folks to get involved with portfolio company work as well. They're pretty diversified, well known in Europe, and building their presence in the US.

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Dec 2, 2021 - 3:19pm

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