Kevin Frechette brought his sales experience to the startup world, and has built a highly successful venture in a massive industry.
On the Dealmakers Show Frechette shared his journey of building a fast growing tech startup as a non-technical founder, how sales is instrumental in entrepreneurship, the mindset of embracing rejection as a founder, building a sales team, and the fundraising process.
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Sales & Entrepreneurship
Many technical individuals and those coming out of academia aspire to create hyper growth startups. Many seriously underestimate how much of a role sales plays in the success of building such a venture.
In fact, without a strong sales person on that team at an early stage we probably wouldn’t have heard of many of the ventures that have now become unicorns.
Consider that just about anything you do in your startup involves sales. You have to sell developers and other hires on joining your company. You have to sell cofounders, advisors, and investors. Then you have to sell your customers.
Kevin Frechette was born and grew up in Massachusetts. As the middle child of five kids there was plenty of chaos between brothers and sisters, as usual. While he would describe himself as an okay student, Kevin was much more attracted to and driven by challenge. So, when he wasn’t in school, or running around the woods making forts, he was engaging in sports.
His father was in sales his whole life. Which certainly helped give Kevin a great start in his career and startup.
In high school he was passionate about more transactional sales and hard closing customers. That evolved and matured as he graduated with a degree in finance, and began work as an intern.
He learned more about succeeding in serious sales, more sophisticated sales, and B2B, and enterprise sales. How it is much more about uncovering challenges and opportunities. Then even how to help prospects discover they have the need and underlying pain point. Then leading them to prioritize and develop a sense of urgency around solving that.
To excel in a sales environment you also have to get comfortable with getting uncomfortable. You have to be willing to pitch and get on stage and fail.
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Embracing The No
Getting good at sales doesn’t mean you just ace getting a yes on the first call every time. You still have to embrace a lot of rejection and hearing no, a lot.
Whether it is customers or investors, you are going to run into this a lot. Which does make the yeses even more exciting.
It also helps to not take it personally, and to have fun with it, and see the value in every step too.
You also want to learn to differentiate between the soft noes and hard ones. To understand the why behind them. Frechette says that if you use that feedback well, if you get 50 noes, and improve just 1% every time, you can get 50% better pretty quickly.
Through going to work at a VC backed company of about 200 people Kevin says he honed his sales skills even further, while meeting his mentor and cofounders.
Today Kevin is cofounder and CEO of Fairmarkit. A venture that he stepped into out of just embracing a similar process from sales to discovery of problems being faced by businesses and executives.
They didn’t begin with a product, or even an idea of a solution. Instead, they set out to meet as many executives as possible, and lean about their pains, and the resulting areas of opportunity.
They found a $8T industry in the enterprise procurement space. One which has remained very antiquated. Fairmarkit has turned to serving this space with an autonomous sourcing solution, leveraging AI, and also riding the ESG trend in which businesses need to be more intentional about their supply chain.
Fairmarkit now serves customers like Amazon, ServiceNow, and Boeing.
They are continuing to develop and launch new features to help customers optimize with AI on both the buy and sell side, so that they can better automate their businesses.
The Fundraising Process
Fairmarkit has also raised a fair amount of money through their Series C round. Of which they count Insight Partners, Highland Capital Partners, OMERS Growth Equity, and GGV Capital as one of their highly valued investors.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Kevin Frechette 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.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Kevin likens the fundraising journey to being a lot like enterprise sales. A part of startups which has become much more challenging recently. Especially if you aren’t building with AI, and don’t have a long track record of success, trust, and credibility.
Frechette says they begin by going top down. Starting with the main partner at an investment firm, getting an introduction to them, and building the relationship with them over time.
Then you have to know when to activate those relationships with a sense of urgency to get a round done.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Starting up as a non-technical founder
- How Fairmarkit is creating value for their customers.
- Current market trends