High Alpha Pilots: Mike Preuss

by Paige Haefer

CEO of Visible

Mike Preuss, CEO of Visible

In this new series for High Alpha, I will be sharing takeaways and stories from interviews with various leaders—or “pilots”—in the High Alpha family.

I’d like to think that Visible CEO Mike Preuss and I have special bond thanks to our involvement with Orr Fellowship. One of my favorite parts of the fellowship network is learning about the success stories of alums, and Preuss is definitely one of those stories. A 2010 IU Kelley School graduate in Finance and Entrepreneurship, Preuss got his start in tech via the Orr Fellowship working right out of undergrad as a Business Development Manager for Formstack’s company Formspring. Although traditionally Orr Fellows work for companies in central Indiana, Preuss was in a bit of a non-traditional role and had the chance to spend a lot of time in his role out in San Francisco.

Time spent in the Bay Area afforded Preuss the opportunity to work with some of the best in venture capital, learning the true ins and outs of what investors are looking for from their companies. As his fellowship came to a close, fellow “Fellow” Max Yoder, was founding a company back in Indianapolis — Lessonly. Yoder knew that Mike Fitzgerald and Kristian Andersen (two of our partners here at High Alpha) had an idea for a new business. This business would be all about helping investors better collect KPIs (key performance indicators) and other metrics from their portfolio of companies. The introduction was made and from there, in late 2013, Visible was born.

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Mike Preuss and learn more about Visible, his role as CEO, and his thoughts on investor relationships, investor updates, and the future of the Visible platform.

More About Visible

Engage your key stakeholders. Visible transforms your quantitative and qualitative data into professional business updates.

Visible began as a product built specifically for venture firms, accelerators, and investors as a way to allow the companies they were invested in to report back KPIs and other metrics aggregated at a high level — giving an investor the ability to view and compare metrics across their portfolio.

As the company has developed, the product and use case has evolved. “Visible is really a platform to engage your key stakeholders and tell a story. All of your data provides context for that story, and with our integrations you can send it out through the medium of your choosing,” shares Preuss. Visible is truly a centralized platform that companies can use for a variety of purposes: To inform their key stakeholders on metrics and progress, to share internal updates with teams, to share weekly updates and benchmarks with employees, and more.

Best Practices for Investor Updates

Through his experience with Visible, Preuss has identified some of the best practices for providing your investors and stakeholders with updates.

  1. Create a Repeatable, Regular Cadence

“It’s important to send a regular update out to stakeholders about your company, and regular can mean something different depending on where your business is. The important part is that what your sending out is repeatable, share the same metrics consistently, and within a regular cadence,” shares Preuss. This tactic ensures that investors are not only kept in the loop, but know when to expect an update and can see the growth and change in your regular, repeatable updates.

2. Explain Change

KPI’s change over time, and that’s okay. However, if you can’t explain these changes, that becomes a problem for investors. Within investor updates, it’s important to explain any changes that occur to ensure clarity.

3. The Shorter, the Better

Sharing concise updates is critical. “People don’t read long content—concise updates are really an art form,” explains Preuss. The more concise your updates are, the more engaged your investors will be and the more willing and efficiently they will be able to help if needed.

Top Metrics to Track for Your Business

Since Visible is utilized for a variety of metric tracking methods, Mike Preuss and his team have been able to see the big picture of metrics and what’s really important for businesses to report. The top metric to track for your business?

“This is hardly revolutionary but whatever your true north KPI is. This varies business to business,” explains Preuss. Some examples of what this KPI could be:

  • Total ARR
  • Transaction Volume
  • Whatever the driving marker of “success” is for your type of business

Generally, Preuss shares that he has seen investors also to be most interested in consistently knowing how much cash is in the bank, the runway left for their investment, the total employees involved, and the burn rate.

Lessons Learned

Mike Preuss is a young CEO. Since taking on this role at Visible as his second major opportunity after college, he’s grown and learned a lot as a leader. “Trust your gut and continue to trust it faster. Don’t drag out a decision if you really believe in it.”

Preuss consistently asks himself, “How do I trust myself faster than I have before?” He has learned from experience that trusting your instinctual feeling and not dragging your feet is important because, although a decision may be tough upfront, it becomes a lot tougher if you wait it out and push it off.

Visible in the Future

Mike Preuss is excited about the future of Visible. “We’ve found our product market fit, and now we are really trying to grow and scale.”

More and more use cases for the Visible platform continue to be uncovered, and as Preuss and his team continue to build, I know more exciting things will be coming soon. As a young CEO, Preuss’s journey in SaaS has a long road ahead, and we’re thrilled to have him in the High Alpha family.