Firas Raouf has a unique combination of startup and VC experience.
His operational experience involved three startups – two that failed quickly and one that succeeded. He was a founding partner at OpenView Venture Partners, where he combined operational mentorship with investment acumen. He invested in seven companies, three that he helped migrate from outside United States.
His interests and skill sets align best with early and expansion stage companies, while his unassuming demeanor and thoroughness make him especially well-suited as a partner for international executive teams. That, and he’s an avid fan of Manchester United, which leaves him with very little to talk about with his American friends. He has an BS in Computer Engineering and masters in Engineering Management.
Firas was born in New York City, and has lived in Baghdad, Cairo, Beirut, Amman, Boston, Hanover New Hampshire, Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Laguna Beach California. He is married to a beautiful pediatrician, and has a son and a daughter (whose names offer the Ns of [N]Squared).
What We Can Do For You
Building a strong company is hard. Building a strong company that can make the leap from outside of the United States to success in the US market is much more difficult. But people do it all the time. While there is no formula, there is a basic set of requirements, and there is also a very common set of mistakes many companies make. I partner with strong non-US companies and help them navigate better, radically improving their chances for success. We do this through three focus areas:
- Develop US entry strategy
- Identify requirements for entry
- Develop market segmentation and associated go-to-market structure
- Set up US sales program (CRM, pipeline management, etc.)
- Assume first selling executive role
- Hire and train first sales team
- Set up US office and infrastructure
- Facilitate strategic planning process to identify key goals and initiatives
- Mentor founding CEO
- Recruit board members and senior managers
- Refine company value proposition and operating dashboards
- Validate growth plans and associated flow projections
- Develop funding strategy (debt vs. equity; investor profile; US vs. OUS investors)
- Prepare funding package and diligence materials
- Coach founders on funding process
- Lead or support funding process
- Mentor CEO through funding close
Our Commitment to You
This journey you’re on is no small thing. It will shape your life, your marriage, your view of yourself, and your view of the world (just as it is already a reflection of each of those things). From here, you have an incredibly important decision to make about whether you will climb alone, or if you will bring a guide onto your team. And if you decide you are ready for a guide, your choice will have a significant and lasting impact on your business and on your own journey as a leader. Here are four core values you can count on if you entrust the role of guide and partner to me.
Our clients endeavor to take on a great challenge: to build and grow successful companies in foreign settings. It is never easy. However great the product, there are no easy answers, quick fixes, or secret guaranteed paths to success. What does exist is a journey worth taking, and a destination worth achieving. We help our clients move smarter, choose the best pace, and avoid shortcuts that lead to disaster. We do this by working at least as hard as they do, and continually calling them to move forward.
The only way to succeed is to move and communicate with intentionality, focus, and the necessary level of intensity. Businesses are not machines. They are collections of people. They are collections of strengths, weaknesses, perspectives, and habits. We are only as successful as our ability to achieve clarity with our clients, to avoid assumptions, to anticipate threats, and to maintain collective vision that translates into value-generating action. As the seasoned guides, the burden of clarity rests with us.
Uncertainty is a natural and good part of solving complex challenges. It in inherent in human communication, and in every sort of business. Experience has taught us that success requires wading into the unknown, both in terms of business direction and in terms of how individual clients evolve and learn. We take a long view, remaining engaged and calm during periods of uncertainty, continuing forward, open to new directions, without forcing premature solutions that don’t solve actual problems.
In a market that makes room for “failing fast” and continuous change, we navigate by principles, not by structures or relationships. We are committed to principles of honest, clear communication, integrity, and the application of extreme effort in a chosen direction. We are also committed to working only with clients who can be successful in the United States, and who are as dedicated to their ultimate success as we are.
We do what we do because we believe in founding CEOs and the expeditions they lead. we’ve been where they are. We know the burdens they carry. And we know what a formative, daunting, and exhilaratingly rigorous personal and operational journey they’re on. We choose to be with people like that. If you’re a founding CEO, whether or not we’re the guide you’re looking for right now, we salute you and wish you well on your climb.