GrowthX establishing strong presence in Nashville
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
A Silicon Valley venture fund now has a significant presence in Nashville as it expands into the start-up acceleration arena.
The fund is GrowthX which was launched in San Francisco but now has offices in Dallas and at 41 Peabody Street in Nashville. If the Music City address sounds familiar, it should. It is home to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center.
We caught-up recently with Brad Holliday, a Partner at GrowthX and the individual who opened the Nashville office. He’s been a well-known player in Nashville’s entrepreneurial scene for more than a decade. Holliday was joined in Music City in late June by Andrew Goldner, a GrowthX Founding Partner, who recently moved his family from Silicon Valley to Nashville.
During our discussion with Holliday, we learned that GrowthX invests across a variety of industry, sector and business models, though it prefers B2B to B2C and has a particular interest in SaaS software, offline-to-online marketplaces, and the freight, logistics and supply chain space. We also learned that GrowthX is more than a seed stage fund.
“One of our two core beliefs is that products don’t create value, customers do,” Holliday says.
To that end, GrowthX has a team of market development experts that work closely with select portfolio companies. It’s called the Market Acceleration Program (or MXP), and it’s an immersive experience during which portfolio founders learn the step-by-step market development formula for finding predictable, profitable and scalable revenue. They apply that learning every day in the context of their company.
“That’s how we protect our investments,” says Goldner. “Rather than take a board seat, we actively embed our expertise.”
The approach, which focuses on three phases of market development – discovery, messaging and outreach – is based on a belief that the greatest threat to a start-up’s survival is not rushing out to hire a Vice President of Sales to scale revenue until there is a knowledge of which revenue is profitable, predictable and scalable. It’s what Goldner refers to as the three dimensions of revenue, and he recently published an article on the importance of 3-D revenue.
“We’re helping solve the Series A crunch by helping these start-ups achieve the traction milestones they need to go from seed stage to a Series A,” Holliday explains.
The approach is clearly different, but it is driven by another fundamental belief.
“Where business accelerators help companies build products and raise money, MXP enables companies to market their product and make money,” Goldner says. The top reason that GrowthX passes on investment opportunities, which is the same reason most of their portfolio companies do not receive an invitation to join their MXP, is the drought of people who have the experience helping product founders get their technology into the hands of customers: entrepreneurial selling, growth marketing and UX design.
Earlier this summer, the venture fund launched GrowthX Academy to help solve that human capital shortage. GrowthX Academy is a classroom and project-based program in Silicon Valley that helps people transition into roles in technology without needing to learn to code.
“Being in tech is no longer just about coding,” emphasized Goldner who added that “products are easier and cheaper to create than ever before, and product talent is everywhere. For founders to ultimately succeed, they have to hit profitable revenue traction milestones to secure the investor funding they’ll need to be the next unicorn.”
GrowthX Academy’s students spend most of their time working directly with real companies in Silicon Valley, solving real problems and gaining substantive, resume-building experience with companies that will need to hire to win. Participants select one of three tracks – sales and business development, growth marketing, and UX design – each of which run 12 weeks.