8 Lessons From One of Silicon Valley’s Top VCs
Summary:Pat Grady, partner at the world-renowned VC firm Sequoia, has spent more than a decade in the business, and earlier this year he was named to the Midas Brink List as an investor “to watch closely now and in the future.”Since joining Sequoia in 2007, he’s met with — and learned from — thousands of entrepreneurs, and has invested in companies including Zoom, Qualtrics, Namely, and Medallia.The founding premise of Sequoia was Don’s vision that brilliant engineers — while capable of building great things — didn’t necessarily know how to connect to human problems.Five years ago, Pat saw “a decent amount whitespace in SaaS,” meaning there were buying centers within the enterprise and within SMBs that were underserved.
摘要：Pat Grady，世界著名的风险投资公司红杉的合伙人，已经在这个行业中度过了十多年的时间，今年早些时候，他被提名为 “现在和未来需要密切关注的投资人 “的Midas Brink List。”自2007年加入红杉以来，他已经与成千上万的企业家会面–并从他们那里学到了很多东西，并投资了包括Zoom、Qualtrics、Namely和Medallia在内的公司。 五年前，Pat看到了 “SaaS领域相当大的空白”，这意味着在企业内部和中小企业中存在着服务不足的购买中心。
He’s been called a “young gun” of Silicon Valley, but don’t let that title fool you.
Since joining Sequoia in 2007, he’s met with — and learned from — thousands of entrepreneurs, and has invested in companies including Zoom, Qualtrics, Namely, and Medallia. (Most recently, Pat participated in our Series B round here at Drift.)
A few weeks ago, we invited Pat into the office so we could pick his brain and, of course, try to steal all his secrets.
Check out our full interview with Pat below — I promise it’s worth the half-hour:
In a hurry? No worries: We went through and pulled out eight key lessons from our interview with Pat Grady that you can read below.
Whether you’re starting a company or investing in one, there’s a lot of scaffolding already in place that guides how you do things. These are best practices that have been applied for years that you’re expected to follow by default.
And while that scaffolding can be helpful, it can also be limiting. As Pat explained, when Sequoia is looking to invest in a new company, they prefer to see companies that innovate as opposed to ones that follow the same-old playbook.
When the topic of first principles came up during the interview, Pat explained that for companies, it all boils down to answering this question:
The bottom line: It’s not just that your company needs to solve a problem. In order to reach hypergrowth status, you need solve a problem in such a way that it can’t be easily replicated by competitors.
3) “From first meeting to investment, the odds are about 500 to 1.”
Time to get real: There are thousands of companies out there right now competing for attention, and market share, and, of course, funding.
是时候动真格了。现在有成千上万的公司在那里 争夺注意力，和市场份额， 当然，资金。
So, what are the odds of actually getting an investment from a VC firm?
That’s what Sequoia’s funnel looks like. From the beginning of 2007 (when Pat joined Sequoia) to today, Sequoia has grown by roughly 50% in terms of investors, but their funnel has grown by more than 10x.
How’d they pull it off? Keep reading to find out…
4) “Benefit from the wisdom of your founders, but also reinvent constantly.”
Don Valentine founded Sequoia in 1972. He wasn’t an investor by trade, but a chief marketing officer.
The founding premise of Sequoia was Don’s vision that brilliant engineers — while capable of building great things — didn’t necessarily know how to connect to human problems.
As Pat told us, “That was the genesis of our business and that’s what we’ve tried to stay true to over the last 45 years.”
However, that doesn’t mean Sequoia has been using the same playbook for the past 45 years. As Pat explained, they’ve been focused on reinventing their business (and growing their funnel) with technology.
One of Don Valentine’s enduring pieces of advice is that companies shouldn’t be afraid to target big markets. (Check out the video below to hear Don explain it.)
But as Pat warned during our interview, targeting big markets is also “tricky and a little bit dangerous.” So he offered this advice for entering a big market the right way.
That’s Pat explaining Dunbar’s number, and how it serves as an inflection point for high-growth companies. Ultimately, once your company’s headcount approaches 150, things start to break because it becomes more and more difficult to communicate.
So, how do you protect your company from the inevitable effects of Dunbar’s number?
According to Pat, “The only way you can solve that is through systems and culture.”
By systems, he means technology as well as having a regular cadence around meetings and other internal communications. And with culture, it’s also about making it intentional and not letting it slip away.
7) “Don’t get caught up in the hype. Don’t chase the unicorn.”
According to Pat, we’ve been in the same basic technology cycle since 2001. And we’re overdue for the end of this cycle and the beginning of the next.
For Pat, it all comes back to solving a real problem. If you’re doing that, you’ll always have customers, and you’ll always have employees to serve those customers.
8) “You can’t brute force your way into scale.”
Five years ago, Pat saw “a decent amount whitespace in SaaS,” meaning there were buying centers within the enterprise and within SMBs that were underserved.
Ultimately, if you aren’t offering a real competitive advantage, spending more money isn’t going to help your cause — at least not in the long run.
Just like with our Patty McCord interview, this was a case where we had way more lessons to share than could be summarized in a single post.
So make sure to listen to our full interview with Sequoia’s Pat Grady when you get the chance.
所以，有机会的话，一定要听听我们对红杉的 Pat Grady 的完整采访。