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Leadership
Nick Mehta, Roger Lee  |  October 26, 2017
Together in the Trenches: Managing Challenges in a Founder/VC Partnership

For even the strongest tech CEOs, challenges and difficulties are unavoidable when scaling a business. In the third of a four-part video mini-series, Roger Lee, general partner at Battery Ventures, and Nick Mehta, CEO of customer-success management platform Gainsight*, explain how they work together to overcome the pitfalls and missteps that plague many startups.

Characterizing the journey of a startup’s path as a “drunken walk” – when you never know where you’re going to be from one day to the next – Lee says that unpredictable challenges in a growing business are inevitable. He mentions how, as CEO of Gainsight, Mehta is excellent at flagging potentially difficult issues in advance and “seeing around the corner to the next challenge,” thus ensuring they can manage and mitigate things as early as possible.

As an example, Lee points to Gainsight’s migration from serving smaller business customers to larger enterprises. Mehta spent significant time plotting that shift, including transitioning members of his team, changing key performance metrics and evolving company culture. Such shifts inevitably entail false starts and dead ends, particularly when undertaken with an iterative and experimental approach. But Mehta’s early work getting ready for the challenges helped Gainsight successfully transition.

Frequent and consistent dialogue between the CEO and the board is crucial to heading off miscommunication and calamity, Mehta says. Calls to the board shouldn’t only occur during a crisis, but should be a regular feature of startup management. Regular chats ensure that the board has the full context and knowledge of a situation when larger concerns or questions flare up. A well-informed board has seen the history and evolution of an issue or concern, making crisis management and troubleshooting much more effective.

The next video in the series analyzes Mehta’s management style, which Lee describes as exhibiting “radical transparency.” The first video, providing lessons on how to make a CEO/VC relationship thrive, is available here, and the second video, which considers board dynamics 101, is available here.

This material is provided for informational purposes, and it is not, and may not be relied on in any manner as, legal, tax or investment advice or as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy an interest in any fund or investment vehicle managed by Battery Ventures or any other Battery entity. 

The information and data are as of the publication date unless otherwise noted.

Content obtained from third-party sources, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified as to its accuracy or completeness and cannot be guaranteed. Battery Ventures has no obligation to update, modify or amend the content of this post nor notify its readers in the event that any information, opinion, projection, forecast or estimate included, changes or subsequently becomes inaccurate.

The information above may contain projections or other forward-looking statements regarding future events or expectations. Predictions, opinions and other information discussed in this video are subject to change continually and without notice of any kind and may no longer be true after the date indicated. Battery Ventures assumes no duty to and does not undertake to update forward-looking statements.

*Denotes a Battery portfolio company. For a full list of all Battery investments, please click here.

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