Inaugural Software Growth & Investment Symposium: Funding the Triangle’s Burgeoning Tech Ecosystem

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise’s North Carolina Investment Forum (NCIF) seeks to identify and develop strategies for how and where the private capital community can have a significant impact on the economic growth of North Carolina. More specifically, NCIF seeks to build a vibrant network of investors providing capital to North Carolina companies, bridge the growing urban-rural prosperity disparity, work with governmental entities in a nonpartisan manner and value and improve the diversity of the participants involved in these efforts.

In partnership with Vista Equity Partners, NCIF hosted the inaugural Software Growth & Investment Symposium on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019 at the Rizzo Conference Center in Chapel Hill. The event brought together members of the Triangle’s burgeoning tech ecosystem to learn from leading software executives and their investors about proven approaches to scaling from $10 million to $100 million annual recurring revenue, or ARR.

The symposium opened with remarks from Kenan Institute Executive Director Greg Brown, who gave an overview of the Kenan Institute and NCIF. Brown also discussed current data-driven trends in venture and growth capital investing, noting a shift away from public markets to private ones. Alan Cline, principal with Vista Equity Partners, gave an overview of his company, focusing on its ecosystem, which includes a portfolio of more than 60 companies, 710,000 portfolio company customers, 200 million portfolio company users, 73,000 portfolio company employees, more than 470 Vista employees, more than 450 portfolio company executives and a span of over 175 countries. Cline also discussed the private capital landscape and the importance of private equity on the overall market.

The first session, Scaling as You Grow From Double-Digit to Triple-Digit Revenue: The Story Behind Relias, featured Relias CEO Jim Triandiflou. Under Triandiflou’s leadership, the Cary-founded company has grown from $20 million to $250 million in revenue, completed 15 acquisitions (including their largest competitor) and opened offices in London, Berlin and Beijing. Triandiflou discussed differences between venture capital and private equity, hyper-growth, talent attraction and retention, strategic planning and appropriately timed exit strategies.

The second session, Bootstraps to Billions–What Happens in the Middle, featured Chris Elmore, co-founder of Charlotte-based AvidXchange. The company was launched on the day the dot-com bubble burst and has grown into the country’s ninth largest fintech company, with thousands of employees. Elmore discussed how dealing with patterns proactively, getting comfortable with chaos and staying out of their own way helped AvidXchange on its journey to unicorn status. Elmore emphasized the importance of company culture, examined what is needed to make it through the early stage phase and defined what it truly means to be innovative.

The final panel session, Exit Options and Strategies at $10M-$100M ARR, featured David Spitz, CEO of ChannelAdvisor; Joe Colopy, co-founder and CEO of Bronto Software; and Carl Ryden, co-founder and CEO of PrecisionLender. The panelists discussed the pros and cons of various types of financing, the financial impact for founders and the relationships between management and investors along different exit paths, including IPO, strategic sale and a majority recap with a private equity sponsor.