Eric Tilenius recently concluded his Executive-in-Residence stay at ScaleVP to become CEO of BlueTalon. We loved having Eric with us—he brought great energy, insight and contacts to us. Eric sourced a lot of early stage companies that we will be keeping on the ScaleVP radar screen. And his network identified a small but crucial M&A opportunity that helped one of our portfolio companies expand its business in a meaningful new way. Thank you, Eric!
Eric and I got to yacking about how his insights from our side of the table will bear upon his new role leading BlueTalon in its mission to improve data access and collaboration across enterprise boundaries.
Sharon Wienbar: How did your time at ScaleVP help you assess potential companies when looking for your next leadership role?
Eric Tilenius: I certainly gained a finer appreciation for the point at which a business is prepared to scale. The partners at ScaleVP understand the rapidly changing nature of enterprise SaaS and software companies, the evolving business models that power them and the changing technologies that impact them. Seeing companies accelerate at this inflection point was clearly one of the most exciting times for the companies that ScaleVP supports. That honed my focus on finding a company that had a solid product, operating in a strong market, with a capable management team, “ready to scale” quickly.
Sharon: Now that you ve been on the VC side of the table, what will you do differently as CEO?
Eric: I learned a lot about balancing vision and execution in a startup. While I was looking for an opportunity with huge upside, I also came to appreciate the value of continually validating the company as you go, by finding small wins and proof points early. Now, while we re keeping an eye on the long-term vision, at any given point I want to have made tangible progress toward value-creating milestones. I also learned how critical it is to build predictable, repeatable revenue sources—that a lot of small customer wins are better than one big random one that may not be able to be replicated.
Two other business lessons were also reinforced: use great metrics to make fact-based decisions, and hire people with the specific domain expertise that our company requires. On that note, BlueTalon is hiring! I welcome talented individuals to contact me personally on LinkedIn.
Sharon: What do you see in BlueTalon that attracted you to the company?
Eric: BlueTalon operates on the cusp of the next phase of big data services — the challenge of internal and external collaboration. Box is one of the ScaleVP portfolio companies that impressed me greatly. BlueTalon strikes me as having the potential to do for database data what Box has done for business documents. By securing enterprise data and enforcing access policies across an organization and its network of partners, BlueTalon is driving productivity and efficiency for businesses in verticals like healthcare, retail, and financial services. These are complex industries, driven by massive Fortune 500 corporations that must collaborate efficiently with partners while remaining compliant with an increasingly complex regulatory environment. What a great opportunity to deliver innovation! The technical and management teams at BlueTalon impressed me by having built the leading solution for secure, policy-compliant data collaboration in such complex markets. I m equally impressed that BlueTalon has earned the trust of early customers like Lilly, Optum & United Healthcare — all companies that see the value in data collaboration.