In a recent episode of the Dealmakers’ Podcast, Matthew Darrow, Co-founder of Vivun, shared his remarkable journey from being an engineer to founding a B2B enterprise software company.
His experiences growing up in different parts of the world and his background in engineering laid the foundation for his entrepreneurial spirit.
This blog post delves into the valuable insights and lessons derived from Matthew’s podcast interview, offering a glimpse into the world of entrepreneurship, adaptability, and building a thriving startup.
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Adaptability: The Key to Success
Matthew was born in Ohio and traveled around Japan, Pennsylvania, and California. His early life, marked by frequent relocations due to his family’s corporate jobs, instilled in him a sense of adaptability.
A childhood fascination with roller coasters ignited his passion for engineering. This early curiosity led him to pursue a career in engineering and ultimately influenced his entrepreneurial journey. He also acquired the ability to adjust to new environments, cultures, and challenges.
Even today, his love for engineering manifests itself in his role as a pilot, where he experiences the thrill of navigating the skies. This personal connection to engineering underscores the idea that true passion can serve as a guiding force in one’s entrepreneurial endeavors.
Matthew’s comfort in the unknown paved the way for his success as a founder, where uncertainty is a constant companion. Matthew’s experiences underscore the importance of embracing change and leveraging it as a catalyst for growth.
From Engineer to Founder: A Transformative Journey
While Matthew initially pursued engineering, he soon realized that writing software code in isolation was not his long-term calling.
This led him to explore diverse career paths, ultimately finding his niche in sales engineering—a blend of technical expertise and sales acumen that he deployed into global consulting firms like Deloitte.
Over the next fifteen years, he honed critical skills and garnered insights that would later drive the inception of Vivun. This transition from engineer to founder showcases the power of adaptability and the value of diverse experiences in shaping an entrepreneurial mindset.
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A Founding Team of Complementary Strengths
The formation of Vivun’s founding team is a testament to the power of complementary skills and shared vision.
Matthew, along with his wife Dominique and long-time friend John Bruce and his wife Claire, brought together a blend of technical expertise, customer success acumen, and legal operations proficiency.
This unique combination of strengths enabled them to tackle the challenges of building a startup and laid the foundation for Vivun’s success.
Navigating the Funding Landscape
Matthew’s candid account of Vivun’s seed round highlights the realities and challenges faced by first-time founders. From initially struggling to secure funding to eventually finding the right strategic investors, their journey was marked by trial and error.
The importance of seeking introductions from the right networks and understanding the dynamics of early-stage fundraising emerges as a crucial lesson for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Eventually, Matthew and his team managed to raise $131M in seed funding from VCs like Atlassian Ventures, Tiger Global Management, and Salesforce Ventures.
Storytelling is everything, which is something that Matthew Darrow was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
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Transforming B2B Sales: A Vision for the Future
Vivun’s mission to revolutionize B2B sales by empowering sales engineers with technology speaks to a broader shift in the industry. Matthew envisions a future where B2B selling is driven by product expertise, facilitated by technology, and conducted asynchronously.
This vision reflects the evolving landscape of B2B sales, where buyers seek hands-on experiences and expert insights.
Vivun’s journey has not been without its share of challenges, from navigating a global pandemic to managing unforeseen geopolitical events. Matthew’s emphasis on prioritizing employee safety and stability during uncertain times serves as a valuable lesson for founders.
Building a network of fellow entrepreneurs for support and shared experiences proves instrumental in overcoming unprecedented challenges.
Embracing Risk: A Call to Action
Reflecting on his entrepreneurial journey, Matthew’s message to aspiring founders is clear: Embrace the risk and take the leap. His own experiences attest to the transformative power of pursuing one’s vision, even in the face of uncertainty.
The rewards of building and scaling a startup far outweigh the initial trepidations.
Matthew Darrow’s entrepreneurial journey from an engineer to the founder of Vivun offers a wealth of insights for aspiring entrepreneurs.
His emphasis on adaptability, complementary founding teams, strategic fundraising, and a clear market vision serves as a blueprint for navigating the complexities of startup life.
By sharing his experiences, Matthew provides a valuable guide for those embarking on their own entrepreneurial ventures.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Background in corporate relocations cultivated a powerful adaptability crucial for entrepreneurial success.
- The transition from coding to sales engineering exemplifies the value of exploring diverse career paths.
- A childhood fascination with roller coasters sparked his love for engineering, influencing his entrepreneurial journey.
- Vivun’s success is rooted in a team with diverse yet complementary skill sets, demonstrating the power of collaboration.
- A journey through seed funding highlights the importance of network connections and targeting the right investors.
- Vivun’s mission reflects the evolving landscape of B2B sales, emphasizing the need for expert-led, product-centric approaches.
- Prioritizing employee safety and building a supportive network of fellow entrepreneurs proves essential in overcoming challenges.