Building the Partnership

Today I have the pleasure to announce that Steve Loughlin has joined Accel as a Partner. Steve shares his journey to venture and his investment focus here.  You should definitely check it out.

Steve at his company’s 2013 Oktoberfest gathering

Steve at his company’s 2013 Oktoberfest gathering

Steve’s arrival offers insight into what’s important to Accel and how we think about the partnership so I want to share some thoughts of my own.

I first wanted Steve to join Accel five years ago, when we were connected through a mutual friend so it is particularly rewarding for me that he finally made the decision to join. I was in recruiting mode when we first met over breakfast in Palo Alto at the Peninsula Creamery as to why he should consider a career in venture. He was in start-up pitching mode. He had an idea for this company, RelateIQ, that would build a data-driven software platform to help people intelligently deepen the quality of their business relationships.

So while I started in recruiting mode, I quickly shifted to investor mode since the idea resonated with our interest in data-driven software that will modernize workplace productivity (led by companies like Slack and Dropbox, to name a few).  

More importantly, Steve exhibited many of the attributes that we think make entrepreneurs unique -- they’re unafraid. Unafraid to reimagine. Unafraid to challenge the status quo. Unafraid to work hard. Over the next few years, Steve, his co-founder Adam Evans, and the very talented RelateIQ team, built a compelling product to transform the massive Customer Relationship Management category. In response to their growing success, Salesforce.com acquired RelateIQ for $390 million.

You really get to know someone through tough times, and like any start-up RelateIQ had its share of highs and lows as it iterated through product market fit, team building and winning early customers. Through it all, Steve continued to grow successfully and prove himself to his team, his board, and his investors.

It became clear that Steve would be a great cultural fit at Accel. Among the many shared traits, the most notable is Steve’s instinct to listen first. As a first-time founder Steve surrounded himself with more experienced founder/CEOs, including his board members Bill Campbell and Bob Cohn, and embraced their mentorship with openness and humility. We pride ourselves on this philosophy. Through listening, we can unravel the individual, appreciate their uniqueness, and play to that strength.

Through listening, we can unravel the individual, appreciate their uniqueness, and play to that strength.

We weren’t doing a “search” for a Partner either. Since the firm’s founding 30+ years ago, we’ve taken an organic approach to adding partners to ensure continuity in leadership and in how we engage entrepreneurs. The right cultural match is especially crucial to a small, collaborative team like ours. We behave like a partnership of equals, with a culture that conditions us to be equally accountable to each other, as well as the entrepreneurs we are fortunate to work with. So while we appreciate the individual, we also emphasize the team, the same ethos Steve deeply instilled at RelateIQ/SalesforceIQ.

We behave like a partnership of equals, with a culture that conditions us to be equally accountable to each other, as well as the entrepreneurs we are fortunate to work with. So while we appreciate the individual, we also emphasize the team, the same ethos Steve deeply instilled at RelateIQ/SalesforceIQ.

Aside from cultural alignment, we knew Steve’s background as an entrepreneur would allow him to empathize and relate to other entrepreneurs. We also believed entrepreneurs would appreciate Steve’s approach -- he’s hard-working, humble, team-focused, and driven to success.  

Our first-hand experience with Steve as an entrepreneur and leader, coupled with his clear cultural alignment, made it obvious that he would be a natural fit for our investing team here at Accel. So after what basically turned out to be a five-year interview, the timing finally worked out. All of us are excited to get to work with Steve as he embarks on his next adventure as an investor.

Welcome Steve -- to the journey ahead.

-- Ping Li

 

Source: https://medium.com/@ping_accel/building-th...