grew up in Nashville and went to college in Virginia, so when he signed on as the newest associate in the Boston office of Battery Ventures
in 2014, he set a mission to invest in the startups building up in and around his home turf.
The first of those deals happened last fall, when Battery came on as lead investor in Pendo's $11 million Series A
, bringing Salesforce Ventures along with it.
Bartlett is among a growing group of bigger city investors beginning to pay closer attention to the Triangle and other Southeast towns, the places that experienced venture capital funding booms in 2015 and that are beginning to churn out successful exits. According to Bartlett, ChannelAdvisor's IPO, Rally Software's acquisition of 6th Sense Analytics (Pendo CEO Todd Olson's previous company), along with big Atlanta deals like VMware's acquisition of AirWatch and IBM's Silverpop buy are making his firm pay attention to the Southeast for the first time in 15 years. (Editor's Note: Battery did do five deals in Atlanta from 2005-2010, but this is the most concerted effort regionwide since the early 2000s)
So much, that Battery wants to fill a void that exists in the region—the lack of a $1 billion venture capital fund investing in tech locally.
"It's opportunistic," he told me after today's Entrepreneurs Series' event
hosted by Bull City Venture Partners. "We want to be a firm that people aspire to work with in the Southeast."
Battery raised a $900 million fund in 2013 from which it invests in IT infrastructure, application software, industrial technology, tech-enabled services and consumer Internet startups from offices in Boston, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Israel. Bartlett is particularly focused on IT infrastructure and enterprise software.
That's why he became so intrigued after an introduction to Pendo came from a Battery portfolio company in Austin. Bartlett had asked that firm about other technology companies to watch, and executives there mentioned Pendo.
Olson wasn't raising capital at the time, but he was planning a visit to Boston so he met up with Bartlett. It was during that meeting that Bartlett realized just how many of his firm's portfolio companies were using Pendo's tools for measuring in real-time how customers are using various software features and functions. After calls to four or five companies, and positive feedback from each, Bartlett began to recommend Pendo to other portfolio companies as he continued due diligence on the Raleigh startup.
"Their team did a fantastic job closing the deals and I got great feedback," Bartlett says. He started the negotiation process with Olson and brought Salesforce Ventures into the deal with him. It closed last October. And it wasn't long before Salesforce came on as perhaps the most high-profile Pendo customer. Olson has been on a hiring spree ever since.
Olson told a crowd gathered for today's event that a large round of capital made sense for his business because the timing was perfect for his team to accelerate. He worried they'd miss the opportunity if they went slower. It was also appealing because of the many connections brought by the investors, along with their "healthy" governance and good feedback.
Bartlett expects to make more investments in local or regional companies, especially as he begins to meet more people in the region during his quarterly visits for Pendo board meetings. Growing relationships with existing Triangle investors like Bull City Venture Partners are likely to provide deal flow as well, he says.