March 29, 2021

SaaS Investor Series: Crosslink Capital’s Phil Boyer Chats Enabling Early-Stage Startup Success

Venture Capital (VC) investment in software as a service (SaaS) has seen a 5X increase over the last decade. AWS SaaS Factory invited Phil Boyer, Partner at Crosslink Capital, a leading early-stage venture capital firm that focuses on seed and series A investing, to discuss what he looks for when investing in early-stage SaaS companies. Boyer is a career technology investor, starting out covering public technology companies for RBC Capital Markets and Credit Suisse, before moving to early-stage investing over eight years ago where, as he says, “much of the fun, exciting innovation really happens.”

Driving Breakout Startup Success

Start with the founding team and the leadership at the top. “In the very early days, all you have is a team and a vision of the future,” observes Boyer, saying that strong leadership has consistently been a differentiator for breakout companies, especially having a strong visionary CEO who can attract a great team and get the entire company, investors, customers, and partners to rally around the vision and mission. As a CEO, this requires a certain self-awareness and foresight to identify the complimentary skills needed on the team to successfully execute on a strategy.

Bring a unique perspective to a viable market opportunity. “The most interesting companies, looking backwards, are always obvious, but in the very early days, they’re super hard to see,” he reflects. It’s important to have context into the market to really know what is viable yet groundbreaking and counter to the status quo to either create a new category or disrupt an existing category. Focusing on the idea generation story helps identify the special experiences that give the founding team a unique perspective into the future that will be difficult for others to replicate. Read rest here