Naima Camara (Senior Research Analyst, European SMB and Start-up Program)

This is part two of a conversation I had with Josh Seerattan, an international business development analyst at Wesley Clover, a private global investment management firm. We discuss how start-ups and scale-ups are working with analysts.

Camara: My understanding of your role is that you serve as the mid-point between analyst firms and start-ups. Can you talk a bit about how companies in your portfolio work with analysts?

Seerattan: Anything from valuations to serving as an advocate or mentor. We promote best practices for companies and for those that work with analysts we coach them on partnership. We let them know what they should be doing strategically.

The other side of it is acting as a bridging point between the start-up and the analyst. At a certain point, they would get an analyst relations person in-house. We also host “lunch and learns” to try to help build the community. For a lot of start-ups, there are preconceived notions of what analysts do and we help the start-ups get to where the value in analyst relations is for them.

Camara: What types of things can start-ups go to analyst firms for?

Seerattan: Understanding the market by speaking to specialists in that area. A big chunk of value is gleaning insights and confirming some notions you understand from your business. The other big part is the go-to-market and best practice pieces. Helping with marketing, channel strategy, and customer success. I tell start-ups they don’t need to do best practice word for word, but it’s worth finding new processes that could work to their needs. A lot of start-ups can get caught up on the marketing side by looking at analyst relations (AR) from a PR point of view and chase the exposure side of AR. That’s just a small piece of it. There’s value in the insights and the market analysis as well.

Camara: Do you have any tips to share about how to work with analyst firms?

Seerattan: Patience is one. Start-ups are go, go, go. Time is a big factor. They also need to take a relationship-orientated approach. The tendency is to view it as too transactional of a relationship. By expecting data, an answer, or a mention. It doesn’t work that way. Look for mutual value building, focus on strategic insights rather than press-related benefits. Ultimately finding tools to build a stronger business.

Camara: Are there any particular industries or verticals that Wesley Clover focuses on?

Seerattan: Cloud, SaaS: we have 40 different companies in our portfolio. Some are ed-tech, HR tech, cybersecurity, etc. We’re interested in business enablers for commercial sectors such as hospitality and healthcare. A lot of different categories. Everything we do is B2B enterprise. We don’t really focus on B2C or deep tech (outside of UC). It goes back to the early days, from early successes like Mitel and NewBridge Networks for example.

Camara: Are there any European companies in your portfolio that you’d like to tell me about today?

Seerattan: The European ones are very early-stage. In the UK, we have Talkative, a tech company that builds website-driven contact Centre solutions. Another one’s called Reliving — it’s a digital time capsule for people, which is interesting given the current times we find ourselves in now. HutSix is another company in our portfolio that focuses on cybersecurity.

Camara: Do you have anything else you’d like to share?

Seerattan: Wesley Clover is continuing business as usual. We’re expanding Alacrity internationally. We can’t go everywhere, but have eyes on India. Also looking at doing international funds in Latin America, UAE, and Singapore as an APAC hub. You’ll see some of this in the coming years.

Camara: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.

Final Thoughts

IDC has recently launched the Tech Start-up & Scale-up Exchange, a networking community for all technology start-ups and scale-ups to connect, exchange advice, seek out partnering opportunities and help each other to make smarter business decisions for short- and long-term growth. Updates from IDC’s latest market insights delivered via webcasts, blogs, and videos will keep you continuously informed of new tech market opportunities, key customer challenges, and best practice approaches.