Shasta Ventures Introduces the GTM Trek, a Q&A Forum, for Entrepreneurs

Posted August 5, 2019 by Shasta Ventures

Open Source Industry Expert Joins Firm to Help ‘Give Back’ to Founders

Shasta is thrilled to announce the launch of our GTM Trek– a unique Q&A forum where entrepreneurs can ask all their go-to-market (GTM) questions and gain insights from experts and entrepreneurs on the Shasta team.

As early-stage investors, we focus on helping founders work through the trials of finding product-market fit. Most of the entrepreneurs we partner with iterate a lot in order to build a product or service that enables them to grow their businesses at scale. After 15 years of working with companies like Zuora, Anaplan, Apptio, Glint, and Nest, among many others, we know how hard this can be.

“When entrepreneurs come to us with an early product that has some customers, the most important role we can play in their journey is helping them figure out, along the way, how to best develop, execute and fund their go-to-market strategy and plan. It’s not easy,” said Jason Pressman, Managing Director, Shasta Ventures.

In fact, it’s a momentous challenge, which is why we refer to it as the “GTM Trek.” The reality is that while there are common trail markers and obstacles that every startup encounters, each trek is unique. Founders need answers to specific issues they’re facing. Generic advice will only get them so far, and figuring out how to navigate thorny questions can make or break a company’s success.

Literally helping entrepreneurs

As early-stage investors in smart software companies, Shasta literally helps entrepreneurs build companies — as in we actually do some of the work — because we have the experience and it’s what we love to do. Our partners have sourced and interviewed candidates, guided founders through key product and go-to-market decisions and when needed, even closed books for a startup.

“Because of Ravi’s deep intellect and breadth of experience with enterprise companies, he can see trends that don’t even have names yet,” said Evan Liang, CEO of LeanData. “We can hash out decisions with him and figure out what long term bets to make.”

With this commitment to entrepreneurs, Shasta created its GTM Trek, a forum where entrepreneurs can ask their go-to-market questions, whenever they need to, and receive knowledge, expertise, and experience in an efficient way. It’s a little like an “Ask a VC or Serial Entrepreneur hotline” where founders can access the support and guidance on-demand. We consider ourselves service providers for entrepreneurs, and our GTM Trek Q&A forum is a way of putting those words into action and delivering value to founders.

Adding experienced founders and executives

To help support the GTM Trek and our portfolio entrepreneurs, we’re excited to announce that we’re adding experienced founders and executives to our team. They all similarly want to share their expertise and help fellow entrepreneurs. Our newest team member is Issac Roth, a seasoned entrepreneur who can be found, most often, advising founders on open source technology and how to keep a community engaged.

Issac created and sold multiple enterprise software companies and stays active as an advisor and investor. After Wily Technology’s $375M sale to CA Technologies, he managed the end-to-end application monitoring business. In 2008, he founded the cloud platform Makara, which sold to Red Hat, and then stayed on to create and scale Red Hat OpenShift. In 2013, Issac incubated core contributors to Node.js at Shasta to form StrongLoop and then joined as founding CEO. StrongLoop was acquired by IBM and Issac most recently served as the CTO of API Management and Hybrid Cloud Integration at IBM. He’s the perfect person to ask questions like: What are open-source models that work? How do you keep your community active? How do you not sell out while building an open source business?

“The entrepreneur CEO job is difficult and lonely. I had investors and mentors that helped me and I love doing the same for Shasta’s entrepreneurs,” explained Issac.

Other experts on our GTM Trek include Izak Mutlu, an Entrepreneur in Residence at Shasta who brings the customer perspective. Izak served as the vice president of Information and Product Security at Salesforce for 11 years. He was responsible for managing IT security, compliance, architecture, design, implementation, and operations and served as the primary focal point for all customer-facing security initiatives. Izak created the Customer Security Advisory Council, a regular gathering of hundreds of customers from around the world, and co-created the Bay Area CSO Council, a group of 30+ CISOs from the largest companies in the San Francisco Bay Area to share best practices and security-related intelligence information among peers.

Venture Partner Balaji Yelamanchili is an active member of the GTM Trek team. Before joining Shasta, he was the executive vice president and general manager of Symantec’s Enterprise Security Business Unit. Prior to Symantec, Balaji was a senior vice president at Oracle, overseeing its Business Analytics and Enterprise Performance Management products.

And serial entrepreneur Jayaram Bhat, who has founded, built, and grown enterprise software companies for the past 37 years is a sought-after GTM Trek advisor for entrepreneurs. Jayaram is currently the co-founder and CEO of Squelch, a customer experience optimization solution. Previously, he was the founding CEO of Zenprise which was acquired by Citrix in 2013, and served as the first CMO of Mercury Interactive, helping the business technology optimization software company to achieve a dominant market position.

Whatever burning and tricky questions entrepreneurs have in mind, there’s someone on the Shasta team who can answer them. Some of the most commonly asked and viewed questions on GTM Trek so far include: What does it take to raise a Series A in San Francisco right now? (answered by Jacob Mullins); Why should a startup offer option refresh grants? (answered by Jason Pressman); and how should I structure my comp plans for SDR AE and VP of Sales? (answered by Ravi Mohan).

Let us help lighten your load.

See more recent entrepreneur questions we’ve fielded or use the Shasta GTM Trek Q&A form to submit your own here.