Dualboot Partners is a professional digital services firm that teams with leaders of SaaS and tech-enabled companies to provide strategy, design, and development horsepower to their digital product. We often take small positions (single digits) as a sweat equity investor in our clients. Our operating thesis is that positioning ourselves at the junction of digital services and investing, uniquely positions us as a True Partner to maximize our value proposition to clients. Let me explain why…
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
To completely level-set, let's first examine the obvious – the use case for a digital services vendor. It doesn't matter if you are a titan of industry or scrappy startup, the decision-making sequence for a digital product will quickly bring you to one of your first crossroads: the build or buy paradigm.
No matter the build or buy selection, business leaders are left questioning if they have the technical breadth and depth of resources to start and manage a software project or successfully integrate and iterate on their newly purchased but untailored product. Building/using an in-house team and bearing all the responsibility and execution risk is enough to make most leadership baulk. Coupled with the need for many fractional skillsets (think visual design, front-end engineering, back-end engineering, QA, project management, etc.), the risks/costs of hiring the wrong staff often tips the scales. Enter the digital services vendor.
Traditional digital service vendors can be a double-edged sword. Under the right circumstances, the seasoned vendor decreases execution risk and delivers a great product. However, that same vendor often introduces new challenges and is motivated by cash more than the long-term success of the company. The unsaid truth is somewhat clear: if your product is successful you will quickly reach a critical mass where the logical next step is to build an in-house team.
The unsaid truth is somewhat clear: if your product is successful you will quickly reach a critical mass where the logical next step is to build an in-house team.
For the vendor, the clock is ticking. Vendors are inherently agnostic to your product strategy and roadmap and are more concerned with billable hours. With cash billings as the primary incentive, a powerful motivator grounded in performance and results is taken off the table – participation in upside.
When it comes to firing up a high-octane team the cash/equity hybrid is a cleaner burning fuel for growth. From Silicon Valley to Wall Street, for those in mission-critical roles, equity incentive (warrants, employee ISOs/NSOs, stock, etc.) is ubiquitous. This is especially true for growth companies.
When it comes to firing up a high-octane team the cash/equity hybrid is a cleaner burning fuel for growth.
It is effective not only because it reduces the financial burden on cash constrained companies, but also because of its intangibles. The culture, comradery, and passion startups are known for can all be traced to one genesis – the team is in it together and all share the upside of success. The digital vendor will always be on the outside looking in.
In a similar vein, good digital vendors introduce a third and more immediate challenge – they are expensive. While cheap options are available, the adage "you get what you pay for" is no different in software. The cost of poor quality, rework, and reputational damage leads executives to expensive vendors. Bootstrapping companies are forced to tighten their belt, while companies with a cash reserve or a capital partner find themselves depleted. Enter the True Partner.
It was the best of times, it was the worst best of times.
The digital True Partner alleviates many of the vendor/client conflicts. They are not only motivated by cash, but have a long-term incentive to build a product positioned for growth. The True Partner has traded their engagement operating profit for the opportunity of future upside. They can make clients growth capital go further and are invested in how it is deployed. Their incentive and focus is to create enterprise value, not consume all available budget.
The True Partner has a passion for business and an expertise in digital. As entrepreneurs and angel investors the True Partner brings intangibles. The combination of business acumen, entrepreneurial experience, and a network built over decades can help open doors to strategic partnerships, capital, and the right talent for growth.
The True Partner invests in their clients and bets on themselves.