Operating Partner at Frog Capital, James Bagan, recounts the first step on the path to working together
Location! Location! Location! The mantra of many an estate agent sprung to mind, as I made my way to Amazon’s UK headquarters in London. A cavernous atrium with an industrial design-feel, welcomed the VC & Growth House of the Year, Frog Capital, along with their investors, portfolio CEOs and partners, to the launch of their second fund following a recent first close.
Also in attendance was a truly remarkable woman, Rebecca Romero, who became the first British female athlete to win Olympic medals in 2 different sports. A silver medal in Rowing wasn’t enough for her at Athens in 2004, so she got on her bike and cycled her way to Gold at Beijing in 2008. As the guest speaker, whilst listening to her I found myself to be even more astounded by her mindset than her achievements.
So how is it that Frog found itself at such a prestigious company, within such an impressive location, for its premier event of the year? In the summer of 2019, Jonno Southam, AWS’s lead on VC relationships, came into Frog Capital to discuss how scale-ups can realise their potential through better collaboration with their investors. The vast majority of Frog’s investments already work with AWS, however what is less clear is how well they work. AWS may be the infrastructure partner of choice for today’s scale-ups, but are they making the best use of a wider range of both products and services available? Are the commercial arrangements optimised? Are AWS techs aware of scale-ups’ ambitions, and therefore how future-proofed is the current solution?
As investors in scale-ups, Frog has access to senior leadership teams and their plans, making it easy to facilitate contact between both parties. Ideally, this then has advantages for both AWS and the business. As a ‘seasoned’ sales professional myself, I distinctly remember how hard I had to work with the traditional vendor models from the old-school tech giants, where trying to identify the right person to speak to(never mind actually access value-add services) was a time-consuming nightmare. The AWS approach which is built around outreach, proactivity and a smorgasbord of services is as refreshing as it is effective. I suspect this is the start of a long and productive relationship between them and Frog Capital.
Change in human thinking is almost always the driver of these kinds of innovation, but what possessed an already tremendously successful Olympic rower, such as Rebecca Romero, to suddenly switch to track cycling? Well, as it turns out, lots of things. Most striking though, was her mindset; that if she did switch disciplines, the only acceptable objective was an Olympic Gold Medal. I wonder what the rest of us could achieve if we had such steely ambition and made an absolute commitment to realising our potential?
The team at Frog have certainly come out of the event inspired, and we are looking forward to many more collaborations with AWS.
About the author
James joined Frog in 2018 as an Operating Partner. Since 2004, he has worked exclusively with investor backed businesses, finding and fixing sales challenges. He has also led 2 successful exits at Language Line and Occam, where he was Chief Executive.