Right out of college, I jumped into VC. Moved to Silicon Valley and dove right in.
Three years later, my focus had narrowed to early-stage commerce infrastructure and fintech.
During the last 6 months of my time in venture, a recurring trend caught my attention. Almost every B2B SaaS founder operating in commerce and commerce-adjacent verticals that I was either investing directly in or had become friends with asked me the same question:
“We want to turn on a content engine to drive organic growth, but where the hell do we start?”
At first, it was just an email from a friend. Then it was two. Pretty soon, within a few months, nearly a dozen founders had asked the same exact question. Why? They wanted to turn on content to drive organic revenue – moving away from paid marketing – as part of their GTM.
My first reaction as an investor was to make the right introductions. So I began trawling my network for freelance writers, established content agencies, and head of content candidates.
Unfortunately, and to my surprise, none of those three options actually solved the pain point.
Freelancers, while brilliant writers, often lack experience building a content function from zero to one. Larger agencies with the requisite functional experience frequently outsource writing and have become too big – sacrificing content quality or charging too much for too little.
Finally, head of content candidates were probably the best fit to solve the pain point at hand, but the large majority of potential candidates were doing their own thing, starting one-person media companies and writing newsletters, building their own blogs, and hosting podcasts.
To be honest, I was stumped. I hit a dead end. I genuinely didn’t know how to answer the question of who was the best fit to turn on a content engine.
Fast forward to today – a year and a half later – and Verbatim has come into maturity.
Let’s dive into how that came about.
Phase One: Leading with Social Proof and Credibility
A year and a half ago, almost to the day, I made a big decision.
I would leave venture to tackle the ‘How do I turn on content?’ pain point. I loved investing, and continue angel investing to this day, but I wanted to see how far I could go solving the pain point that I’d been stumped by for the past 6 months: How do I ramp up a content engine from zero?
A handful of founders I was close to agreed to bring me on in an interim head of content capacity. Not full-time, not an agency, but more embedded than a freelancer.
The idea was that I’d pilot what the perfect content studio could look like. One that would solve that cold start problem on the content front, get the strategy and infrastructure in place to scale, and critically, drive recurring revenue from the get-go for that founder’s company.
The key differentiator here was that we’d leverage social proof and lead with credibility, not just education and SEO or Google synthesis articles. Every piece would map directly to the startup’s customer persona, and address the ICP’s pain points, frustrations, desires, and objections.
Then, we’d map those pain points and desires to high-profile, credible experts in the founder’s network – whether they were operators, angels, customers, investors, partners, or influencers.
Our hypothesis was that this pillar content wouldn’t just be shipped for the purpose of direct conversion on social channels. It could also be chopped up, distilled, and repurposed across every major GTM function: traditional marketing, partnerships, BD, inbound sales, and more.
The kicker? Every piece of content we built would stem directly from a live Zoom interview that I’d record, transcribe, and distill into a written article. It’s always been our belief that the best content comes from real conversation with an expert, not from synthesizing Google feeds.
In turn, the MVP for Verbatim’s studio was born. Some of our early “design partners” included Tydo, Streamlined, Skio, and Goody. Without them taking a chance, we wouldn’t be here today.