Jul 20, 2023

How We Partner at TheGP

by Phin Barnes

Founders often ask us how The General Partnership’s business model is different from traditional VCs. It’s a fair question. While we do invest capital like most other firms, we also earn equity grants when we deliver on a set of services—whether that’s driving product-market-fit faster, saving years of engineering time, or building a world-class team to win. 

This “services-for-equity” model is designed to align our efforts directly with a founder’s top priorities. When we enter a partnership, we collaborate to create a written statement of work that clearly defines deliverables over a specific timeframe and outlines the equity we’ll earn upon achieving certain milestones. This model holds us accountable to do the work in order to earn equity. 

Each partnership at TheGP is entirely bespoke—we unbundle resources (across go-to-market, recruiting, product, and capital) depending on what a founder needs. Once the statement of work begins, our team of seasoned builders works alongside founders in a dedicated way, providing them with the expertise they need to pursue their vision. This unique approach to service delivery allows us to maximize our impact with formation stage and breakout companies. 

We define formation companies as pre-seed and seed stage, from pre-product market fit ideas to businesses that have an early indication of traction in the market. Our typical investment at this stage is between $1-$5 million. From the outset, we meet the needs of formation stage founders with some combination of capital and support across recruiting, product and engineering, and go-to-market. We also reserve capital to support the company as it grows. 

We define breakout businesses as companies that have achieved product-market fit and are poised for substantial growth. These companies are typically not constrained by capital but require specific senior talent, technical expertise, or go-to-market optimization to win their market. Partnerships at the breakout stage are designed to engage our builders to accelerate growth at full throttle. As capital becomes a constraint down the line, we can expand our partnership to support further scale with investments ranging from $5-$15 million or more.

We developed this model because we know talented people with deep domain expertise can bring out a founder’s best instincts. That’s where our builders come in. Our engineers and designers were at Google in the early days, scaled Coinbase during its hypergrowth, were CTOs in Big Tech, and have built companies acquired by Stripe and Salesforce. Our go-to-market team led sales organizations at Square and Oracle, and has guided teams to repeatable revenue capture numerous times. Our recruiters scaled Robinhood from 30 to 4,000 people, designed Stripe’s recruiting playbook, led executive search at Slack, and brought tech talent to the White House. In our experience, the collaboration that happens between our builders and founders works to establish companies that live up to the founder’s vision. 

To be clear—our model is not designed to serve as many companies as possible. We provide customized services specifically designed for each company. Because of this, we’re extremely selective with the founders we partner with. The folks we like to work with are typically learn-it-all builders with a sense of urgency—they deeply understand that their company’s success depends on an increasingly rare, high-quality core team. These founders always have a clear north star. We help them reach it. 

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