Progress: A Tie That Binds

Relationships revolving around progress almost never dull. How could they? There is always work to do, ideas to generate, events to hold, and products to push.

This is the foundation of my friendship with Kyle Porter.

On the corner of Tech Square — over 5 years ago — is where I ran into Kyle Porter. We had similar missions: figure out how to become playmakers in Atlanta’s technology scene. He had more Tech Square street cred. He graduated from Georgia Tech. Me, I was coming up with as many humorous ways to dodge the assumingly easy question: “What year did you graduate from Tech?”

We were on Tech Square, remind you. The epicenter of where Atlanta business meets engineering nerdom.

Cross over that 5th street bridge (except on game days) and any non-Tech graduate will get lost in a sea of SpaceX chasin’, Oracle Database creatin’ aspiring students.

I honestly didn’t think guys like Kyle Porter existed.

Going to school an hour east of Atlanta, brain-washed is the best way to describe my perception of GaTech students. Wrongfully, I assumed LAN parties replaced keg parties and any ounce of salesmanship resided in the debauchery-filled, circus show of Athens, Georgia. This is the same place where famed Atlanta Journal Constitutional writer, Lewis Grizzard once joked: “Some people think that if you drive through Athens with your window down, someone will throw a diploma in your car….That’s not true. You’ve got to stop first.”

Fortunately for me, we chose technology as our industry of choice. Meaning instead of questions like “What college can did you attend?” or “Who is your father?”, people asked meaningful questions like: “Can you sell?”,  “Can you code?”, or “Can you market?” The meritocratic world in technology helped (and still does today) side step that  Clean, Old Fashioned Hate I grew custom to.

After years of staying in touch, running into each other at industry events, and yik yakking back and forth on Twitter, the time had come to put our personal friendship aside and develop a professional one. The educational startup I was with out of the ATDC for two years didn’t take off and the time to make moves was near.

And so it began, one of the wildest years of my professional career started at SalesLoft. Two months in as a jack-of-all trades Sales and Marketing resource, I found myself with Kyle at Caribou Coffee one weekend afternoon on the phone with Nicole Glaros of TechStars Boulder fame. We were selling sharing all the reasons we deserved to makes the upcoming cohort.

As luck would have it, fate found the excited team spending the summer in Boulder, Colorado representing Atlanta feverishly.

It was a year of many highs and lows — the traditional entrepreneurial journey. Scaling sales and marketing before product/market fit is one of the easiest mistakes a startup can make. People have asked if I regret leaving SalesLoft to start Rivalry? I left at a time when a sales and marketing resource wasn’t best for the company. I’ll never forget Kyle’s gracious support for my decision to pursue my entrepreneurial dream. I’m confident to write they wouldn’t be where they are today — 11,000+ users and crushing it — if I stayed.

So why this story?

Rivalry continues to steadily grow according to plan. We’ve stayed incredibly lean, built an A+ team, have paying customers and many more on the way. Now is time to assimilate a strategic team of advisors to join the best one in Atlanta. These advisors will help us navigate the next phase of Rivalry’s growth.

And so as the journey of becoming playmakers in the Atlanta technology scene advances, it is with great excitement to announce Kyle Porter joining the Rivalry team as an official advisor. I have yet to witness an entrepreneur who has been able to create a customer acquisition machine so quickly, raise a seed round so effortlessly, and gain as much traction after product/market fit than SalesLoft.

As the years advance and the relationship continues to morph from friendship to co-worker to mentor to advisor and back again, I know the one common tie that binds it all together: progress.

 

 

One Response

  1. Kyle Porter says:

    Man I had a blast reading this post Jon and hope my kids will read it one day! You have a special way with words and are an amazing storyteller.

    It’s a distinct honor and pleasure to watch you grow and to see you accomplish your dreams.

    You said we wouldn’t be where we are had you stayed and I agree. SalesLoft would be three times larger if you were on the team. And we certainly wouldn’t have had any success if not for those late night pitch-practices, days filled with demos, and wild journeys at conferences like Dreamforce.

    There’s nobody better at generating demand and enthusiasm in the business community.

    But you’re exactly where you should be. CEO. Your vision, loyalty, integrity, and hustle are what makes a great entrepreneur, a lifelong friend, and wonderful human.

    Here’s to the future: putting ATL on the global startup map and solving massive problems for B2B sellers around the world!

    Cheers to Rivalry.