Exploring new investment opportunities and supporting new founders off to a “fast start”.
Why I am excited to join Notion Capital, by Adam Hale
I have known and admired Notion Capital and the team for a long time as the leading SaaS investors in Europe. I am proud & delighted to join the team as Venture Partner to help their portfolio companies become market leaders, and to help continue to raise the standard for value add outside capital. The chance to work with Stephen Millard and the other great people in the Notion platform team was a crucial element in me joining. We are here to help the portfolio companies succeed and to make Notion’s investment money as smart as possible.
I fell in love with Technology in 1981 after buying a Sinclair ZX81 then a BBC Micro with my paper-round money. Back then tech was niche, the common response from people hearing I was studying Computer Science at Bristol University was “Oh no, I am sorry". I feel so lucky to have been immersed in the industry ever since and see it become central to, well, everything. Before becoming a CEO in 2013, I spent 26 years in professional services: a decade at Accenture delivering technology-enabled change, then even longer leading the global Software practice for Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA). Those years taught me that change only happens when People, Process & Technology are brought together, and that great companies are made up of great people. Oh, and it turns out there is truth in “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. I became CEO of SaaS Fairsail in 2014 when it was 13 people, £700K ARR & valued at £5m. 3.5 years later it was 150 FTE, £12m ARR & acquired by Sage for £115m. That period was hugely enjoyable but I will always remember how hard it was. I decided to ‘go plural’ in 2017 for the variety of working with many types & sizes of B2B SaaS companies as a board member/advisor/angel. I’m British with a global mindset and ambition. I worked for US HQ’d businesses almost all my working life and have spent a lot of time there.
Doing things right, ideally first time, has always been important to me. I like to develop frameworks & re-usable mechanisms, so that best practices can be shared, results achieved more quickly and problems avoided. I did this at Accenture in the early days of client/server (remember that!) and at RRA creating the search process framework. The Fairsail scaleup is written up as “Lobster Tales” on my LinkedIn, at 35,000 words it’s the longest thing I’ve ever written so have a read to make me feel better.
Fairsail helped me to clarify that there are five elements SaaS companies need to master simultaneously to set themselves on the right path to market leadership: Purpose; Focus; Customer Success; Innovation & Team. I have used this framework with all my roles since, and this framework will develop into a more repeatable structure for the benefit of Notion portfolio companies. My role will be to run “Fast Start” projects to help Notion companies clarify their thinking and set out that path to market leadership. This will involve asking ‘Why’ and ‘So what?’ to get to an approach that is distinctive, impactful & clear. You have all created new businesses which is an extraordinary achievement, I look forward to getting to know you and them.
Outside technology I love road cycling, if you’re on Strava or Zwift see you down the road.
Companies: Fairsail (acquired), Arctic Shores, Orbus Software, e-days, Unit4 (acquired), vynintelligence, etc. Also Chairman of ScaleUp Institute, Chairman of Thames Valley Tech, Associate of ScaleUp Group & Creative Destruction Lab.
The opportunity to work with Adam was one we couldn’t pass up, by Stephen Millard
When I first met Adam in 2016, a short while after I joined Notion I felt this was someone I would love to work with and learn from. Open, generous, smart, competitive and with a unique background of success in computer science, management consulting, executive recruitment and SaaS leadership, Adam is definitely someone you want on your team. Five years later I am delighted Adam will be joining Notion as a Venture Partner, one on hand sourcing new investment opportunities from his network, but also playing a massive part in helping us deliver ever greater value to our portfolio companies.
Even more important to me, when thinking about working with Adam and why I am so excited to work with him is that he, like me, uses mental models and frameworks to help founders see the world in a different way, to make good decisions and to solve problems. We will be working closely to help our new investments get off to the very best of starts on their extraordinary journeys. Under Adam’s leadership we will be developing a Notion Fast Start programme to help our founders narrow in on some of the most important topics critical to their post Series A success. More to follow on this very shortly.
Also a keen cyclist, I have plenty of experience watching Adam disappear down the road. He’s as formidable on his bike as he is in his work!