For enterprise-focused startup CEOs, the idea of introducing their products — no matter how innovative — to large enterprises can be daunting. It requires the enterprise’s empathy, technical understanding of the solution, and trust in often untested technologies.
Many startup CEOs spend too much time trying to figure out the enterprise’s sourcing and sales processes. Unfortunately, these efforts rarely pay off because they’re missing one key ingredient: a champion inside the enterprise, someone who passionately believes in the partnership.
In 2018, Yiğit Ihlamur, co-founder of Vela Partners, reached out to Burak Arik, CEO of Maxitech, to explore the opportunities for their portfolio companies in the EMEA region. This led to a fruitful partnership that gave rise to Maxitech’s proven strategy for introducing innovative and early-stage products to enterprise customers.
The conversation below summarizes Burak & Yiğit’s reflections on 3 years of collaboration.
Burak: What was the trigger for Vela to partner with Maxitech?
Yiğit: One of our main focus areas is early-stage, enterprise-focused AI startups. The key risk of these portfolio companies is the product-market fit. As you well know, finding the product-market fit usually takes more time for enterprise-focused startups because their sales cycles are much longer.
We help our portfolio CEOs reduce this risk by introducing new customers, establishing their sales processes and go-to-market strategies, and recruiting early employees, relevant advisors, and distributors. But early-stage venture capital is fundamentally a partnership-driven business. For that reason, we’re always on the lookout for value-adding partners.
When we met you and the rest of your team, we thought that we could establish a win-win partnership. Your relationships with enterprise customers in the EMEA region complement our Bay Area-based portfolio, network, and investment thesis. The synergy was immediately apparent.
Burak: I agree completely. Hard to believe it’s been more than three years now since we started our close collaboration. What have been the highlights for you?
Yiğit: The personal highlight has been the mutual trust and respect that we’ve established with you and your hardworking team.
On the business side, Maxitech has introduced various enterprise customers to our portfolio companies and helped the latter receive early feedback for their products. Some of these relationships have grown into pilots, and some enterprises have even become paying customers — Maxitech being one of them. It seemed a natural fit that you would work with Golden (market research) and Protopie (prototyping new ideas). Even your parent company, Softtech, has been using Bear Robotics to serve food in its cafeterias, and CloudNatix to optimize its cloud infrastructure. Additionally, some of our portfolio companies continue to engage with Softtech as a potential distributor in the EMEA region.
Maxitech and its customers also give us valuable user feedback as part of our company and product analysis process. This has been especially game-changing for us since customer opinion is one of the pillars of our due diligence.
Burak: I’m glad that it’s been as positive an experience for you as it has been for us.
Our key objective is to help our customers solve their business problems with innovative solutions. Vela’s portfolio has been a strong fit for our customer base. Vela, itself, is an AI-enabled data firm. Through its in-house proprietary algorithm, it sources investment opportunities and supports its portfolio companies by matching potential customers and employees. Vela uses this capability and technical expertise to invest in AI-enabled, deep tech, robotics, data, and developer tool startups. A significant portion of this portfolio comprises the enterprise segment, constituting a perfect match for our customers’ needs.
Your firm has also been instrumental in connecting Maxitech with other prominent VCs, which in turn has helped us expand our product portfolio and bring more solutions to our customers. One unexpected benefit was that Vela’s ecosystem helps us find the right expert to provide best-practice advice in various advanced tech areas such as gpt-3, blockchain, and emerging open-source technologies.
How do you see our partnership evolving in the upcoming years?
Yiğit: I see Maxitech and Vela as two startups with engineering and innovation hardwired into their DNA. We both want to contribute to the Lean digital transformation of our world. I expect to see more automation for both companies, which would mean larger-scale cooperation in more geographies. Market research and customer and startup sourcing will be among the key areas of innovation going forward for both of us. All that’s to say that Vela hopes to share best-practices and findings so we can create synergies in our Lean innovation and productivity efforts.
I’m also excited to have access to Softtech (Turkey’s largest software house and Maxitech’s parent company) to fuel our portfolio companies’ growth by supporting them with high-caliber engineers.
Burak: We’re looking forward to deepening our cooperation, and disrupting our own businesses.
Yiğit: Thank you for hosting this, Burak. It is always a pleasure talking to you, and especially thinking about how we can continue to add value to our societies.
Making Innovation a Reality
Vela Partners is pioneering an innovative way of investing in startups, and by partnering with Maxitech, Vela has accelerated growth opportunities for its portfolio companies. Through introductions to Maxitech’s enterprise partner, these startups have gained invaluable feedback on their products. To learn more visit maxitech.com and vela.partners.
Located in Silicon Valley, the epicenter of technology, Maxitech’s mission is to translate leading-edge technologies into life-enhancing innovations for businesses and individuals. Maxitech collaborates with large enterprises to drive their innovation initiatives by connecting them with the best-in-class startups. With more than four years of experience in building successful enterprise-startups partnerships, Maxitech makes innovation a reality.
About Vela Partners
Vela Partners is a San Francisco-based investment firm, pioneering an innovative way of investing in startups, which we call Ventech (Venture technology). Vela is an AI-enabled data business, collecting insights about markets, companies, and other relevant components of the ecosystem. Then it leverages these insights by making better investment decisions and by helping improve the performance of its portfolio. Vela’s main focus is AI-enabled and data-driven B2B startups with investments spanning from seed to Series A.