York IE is focused on helping entrepreneurs and investors to find success with their startups. Kyle York has an extensive background in both startups (Dyn) and large enterprises (Oracle) and has applied his playbooks for growth to help new startups flourish. In this episode, he talks with Joe about startups, growing business, and creating an experience that resonates with customers.
Kyle York is cofounder, CEO, and managing partner of York IE, a strategic advisory investment and operational growth firm.
York IE is a hybrid business, involving a SaaS platform, advisory and consulting services, and selective early-stage B2B investments.
Kyle cut his teeth in marketing and sales business development-type roles in California, before returning to his hometown of Bedford, New Hampshire to work on cloud-based infrastructure app, Dyn. At Dyn, he would eventually become General Manager before selling the company to Oracle in 2016.
All throughout this time Kyle was actively angel investing, advising companies and found that his greatest love was in working for companies at the earliest stages.
The DNA of an Experience
It all starts with the strategic customer- when Kyle is working with technologists in the early stages of a startup, he’s usually helping them define what that is for them.
He refers to this as “the trifecta.”
The first side in this triangle is that there needs to be brand salience, whether that means having a recognizable logo amongst startup-land-ers or being a customer fan favorite like an Adobe.
The second side is that it’s a company paying consistently and expanding.
Thirdly, is the “lighthouse customers” who find strategic value in the capability that the company specifically offers.
“Nailing this trifecta” and determining a solid go-to-market strategy that can be consistently replicated, that’s when a company can start focusing on honing in on customer experience.
Kyle also says not to underestimate the relationship-building side of all of this. Software companies and technology leaders sometimes overlook the importance of this step.
Building Relationships Digitally
Given that we all can’t just hop on a plane to see a client every time we feel like meeting face-to-face now, there are other ways we have to network virtually.
Kyle says he’s never seen more emphasis put on “personal brands.”
In the age of professional Twitter and Zoom calls where kids and dogs might run through a meeting with a hundred thousand dollar client at any given moment, it’s important for people to have a consistent personal persona across the board.
In many ways, eliminating a more formal barrier might make for more authentic customer relationships.
“Not everyone’s going to be good at it, but companies need to put together programs, leverage tools and capabilities, and help the people who aren’t good at it, the best brands in the world have always done this.”
“I think our model is just incredibly unique.”
Kyle and his team are trying to go after everyone from investment banks to management consultancies to PR firms to VC. He just wants to support startups and thinks a lot of these industries haven’t caught up to the speed, pace, and flexible budgets that startups now command. Not all startups are made to be Series A Silicon Valley darlings, we need businesses that demonstrate that understanding.
“I think our model is just incredibly unique.” Kyle and his team are trying to go after everyone from investment banks to management consultancies to PR firms to VC. He just wants to support startups and thinks a lot of these industries haven’t caught up to the speed, pace, and flexible budgets that startups now command.
Kyle is grateful that he feels he’s gained the trust and credibility to do this through his history in angel investing and track record with early-phase startups.
York IE also doesn’t just work with investments, they have about twenty-five active engagements with about fifteen of them also being investments. On top of this, they will work with later-stage when it makes sense for them. All around he loves the freedom and flexibility he’s achieved at York IE due to not having outside VC investors.
His goal is and has always been just “to build great companies.”
His Investment Playbook
Kyle is glad to say that the one problem he does not experience is deal flow, with around forty to fifty inbound software companies per month that reach out for a potential funding round. “So we had to get really rigid in our evaluation process.” His team doesn’t even bring him in until it’s a company they’ve thoroughly evaluated as being a likely interest for York IE.
After that it’s pretty standard, Kyle and the team evaluate finances, the go-to-market strategy, the infrastructure, and then it’s just asking the big questions,
“Are we a good fit?”
“Can we be helpful to this business?”
“Do we actually complement this team?”
Asking these sorts of questions will help a firm like York IE cut through the noise and build relationships that last.