2022: At Your Back And By Your Side

Mallun Yen

“We did it.”

Few things are as rewarding as receiving a text like this from your team, whether you’re a founder, an operator, or an investor. I had been eagerly awaiting all weekend to hear from Daniel Barber, an OpCo portfolio company CEO, on whether his number one CTO candidate  Cathy Polinsky, an Operator LP and former Shopify VP Eng, Stitch Fix CTO, and Salesforce SVP Eng, had signed.

This didn’t randomly happen - the relationship was years in the making. From the earliest stages of our diligence process, we deliberately introduce relevant operators, like Cathy, to provide feedback to us and to the founder on the specific problem the company is solving and how they’re planning to tackle it. Then once we invest, these operators are part of our collective that huddles around the founders to accelerate their success, because they’re literally invested as Operator LPs. Two years later, when Daniel was ready to hire a CTO, there was already a relationship, and he knew who to turn to. DataGrail welcomed Cathy as CTO in July, just ahead of their $45M Series C announcement. 

This is exactly the kind of outcome I hoped for when starting Operator Collective. Despite the obvious benefits, the venture world just isn’t accessible to operators; founder and operator networks don’t often naturally overlap. The idea behind OpCo was to weave these different groups together, have them work together on actual business matters. It forms a real relationship, instead of just another acquaintance. The Shopify VP Eng overseeing a team of 800 and a seed stage data privacy founder got to know each other, while learning the business and how the other operates. From diligence to advice, to potential customers or hires - we make specific introductions to people whom we know our  founders will need at various points along the company-building journey. 

OpCo Connections in 2022

Founders come to OpCo because our LPs are active operators who: 1) have the experience building the kinds of companies founders want to create; 2) are the prospective customers of the enterprise/B2B products the founders are building; and 3) have visibility into current talent networks across all the iconic tech companies from which founders want to hire. The Collective Venture Model™ is how we unleash the experience, expertise, and networks of our community to provide meaningful connections that drive results for our portfolio companies and our Operator LPs. 

It is so incredibly hard to be a founder - especially over the last few years and looking ahead. Having a collective at one’s back can make all the difference. Our experienced operators have been there, are actively living it now, and can help our founders see around corners to what’s next. We make the right connections at the right time so our founders have access to what they need at every stage, from Day 1 to IPO and beyond. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and it’s why we built OpCo the way we did.  There is no single COO or GTM leader whose experience covers everything a company needs in its lifecycle. That’s why we don’t have just one COO, we have more than 30. Their range of expertise, experiences, and networks creates a multiplier effect.

Cathy joining DataGrail is just one example of our model in action. We’ve made over 250 specific and meaningful connections this year alone for our portfolio founders, resulting in signed contracts, key hires, and critical introductions and advice. All within our exceptional community, now 200+ operators strong, across all functional areas. The graphics here show the support, connections, and collaboration we provided to our portfolio this year, and what early-stage founders can expect from Operator Collective.

Our collective continues to shine bright, and with Fund II, we’re ready for what this next year will hold. If you’re an early stage, enterprise/ B2B founder, we’d love to put our collective to work for you

We’re doing it. Together! 

Mallun & the OpCo team

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