By Mike Dauber
Amplify invests in the Seed and Series A rounds of companies started by technical founders. In my 11+ years in the Venture Industry, I’ve yet to meet an early-stage team who doesn’t believe that they could use more help with go-to-market. Yet helping early-stage companies in winning early customers is a particularly hard skillset to master. Most people 1) lack the experience of winning the first deal(s) and 2) it’s extremely hard to do. This made our search for our Go-To-Market Partner easy — it was a set of one.
I first met Mark LaRosa on an orange couch on the second floor of a startup office on University Ave in Palo Alto in 2013. I was interviewing him to be the first Solutions Architect at Interana. The interview went so well that I stood up in the middle of it to find my friend, the CEO (Ann Johnson) to ask her how quickly we could make Mark an offer. Mark went on to help Interana close a number of significant deals and made a meaningful impact on the trajectory of the company.
I’ve been working with technical sales people my entire career, and as a former SE myself, I know the intricacies of the role firsthand. Without any hyperbole, Mark is the best technical sales person I’ve ever met. I know many people who can help win deal number 51, 134, or 2458. Mark excels at winning deals 1 to 10. That’s not to say he can’t win deal #2458 — he can, but it’s his ability to win the first deal at the massive customer his startup had no business calling on in the first place that made me spend the last 18 months trying to convince him to join Amplify. Mark spent the past two years as a Principal Solutions Architect selling to AWS’ largest, most demanding customers. He helped increase sales at his largest customer by 2000% and was responsible for the second largest deal AWS has ever closed. These accomplishments bookend a career that started doing UX research at Google but then found him as an early employee at three startups running technical sales.
Mark is an entrepreneur at his core. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that Mark spent his childhood watching his father build a pizza dough business and hustle to build trusting relationships to sell to not only high-end pizzerias and restaurants but also to liquor stores selling slices to go. Luckily for Mark (and everyone he works with), the core principals of selling that he learned from his father selling pizza dough translate well to enterprise sales. Mark has worked for and advised startups continually for the last ten years and since 2009, Mark has made it a priority to attend YC’s Demo Day. The rare combination of his ability to win the first, large strategic deals while being able to relate to the stresses and limitations that are inherent in an early stage venture make Mark uniquely suited for his new role. We’re elated to have Mark join us to bring his Liam Neeson-esque skills to Amplify where he’ll be working with our portfolio on everything from helping teams win their first set of key customers and outbound messaging to building their product roadmap.
At Amplify we talk about hiring difference makers. This is Mark’s second week. He spent his first week on the road helping us win an important deal. Welcome, Mark — we’re thrilled to have you!