From Enterprise to Venture, relayr’s CRO Charts His Entrepreneurial Journey
Guneet Bedi (Kellogg ’10), global sales lead at relayr—a Purple Arch portfolio company—talks about life at the rapidly growing IoT startup and what it takes to sustain entrepreneurial drive.
Life at the Berlin-based relayr is electric.
On February 19, the company announced a new fundraise of roughly $30 million from Purple Arch Ventures, B37, and DTCP (Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners), enabling relayr to expand its core activities in tech and grow in AI-driven industry 4.0 connectivity. Prior to that, Manufacturing Technology Insights named the company a Top 10 IoT Solution Provider for Manufacturers, just after relayr earned Hottest IoT Startup by Europas. relayr has also been busy acquiring companies and powering Cisco’s Digital Ceiling ecosystem at Cisco Live Berlin.
Naturally, then, we jumped at the chance to chat with Guneet Bedi—a Kellogg grad with experience at large enterprises—and now the “hottest IoT startup” on the block.
First things first. What does relayr do?
The central challenge of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is delivering better outcomes. relayr solves that with a complete IIoT solution combining software, services, insurance, and finance to help companies manage their digital transformation. Our core product is protocol-agnostic IoT software and professional services for 100+ mid-market industrial customers. We offer them an innovative pay-as-you-go model, commonly referred to as Equipment as a Service.
How did you land at relayr?
I gained foundational experience in large enterprise roles at Oracle in engineering, sales, and product management. Then I spent another six years after Kellogg at Cisco, both in traditional project management roles and growing early stage business units. I really enjoyed “growing and scaling” products/initiatives and, through a strong network with one of the co-founders of a Cisco acquisition, I ended up getting an executive role at relayr.
My Kellogg MBA exposed me to the bigger picture in many ways. It helped me develop a more nuanced business mindset and instilled the confidence I needed to create the network that led me to become an executive.
What sparked your entrepreneurial drive? How do you sustain it?
The key to my journey has been strong relationships, staying focused on and passionate about what I do, and continuously changing roles within companies to get diverse experiences.
The drive to join relayr was a combination of journeying into venture-backed land, with the added responsibility of growing a business from scratch. I was also excited to work with leadership team members that I’d known and collaborated with more than a decade before. Sustaining drive is difficult, so it’s important to enjoy the people you work with. That’s been key for me.
What are the three most important lessons you’ve learned on your entrepreneurial journey?
Early stage companies and entrepreneurship are always full of surprises—be ready for them. At relayr, from Phase One to Series B, we were constantly pivoting our strategy to find the right product-market fit. This constant change in direction demanded patience and mental strength.
The second big lesson for me was learning how to evolve my working style from the early days of trying everything to getting more focused and structured in more recent years — what I call the Growth and Scaling phase.
The third key lesson was that working with people you like is very important. This lesson really comes to bear when you ride the inevitable ups and downs at a startup.
How did you connect with Purple Arch Ventures?
We were raising bridge funding from our existing investors and wanted a few strategics. I found out about Purple Arch Ventures through a mutual Kellogg alum who was looking to fundraise and found Wayne Moore, the fund’s Principal. Wayne and I talked and things happened very fast. The deal completion went very well; the process of fundraising was well-defined; the investment committee asked pointed, thought-provoking questions; and everyone was focused on relayr’s strategy instead of minutia. Ever since relayr became a portfolio company, Wayne and Managing Partner David Beazley have been super helpful in making introductions and helping us grow our brand within the community.
Which resources or sources of inspiration (podcasts, books, blogs, mentors, etc.) are most useful to you on a regular basis?
I love podcasts like Masters of Scale. But key for me is learning through mentors and even Kellogg alumni/staff—this is a very strong but untapped potential for me.
Purple Arch Ventures is a network of Northwestern alumni investing in Wildcat-connected businesses. Click here if you’d like to learn more about venture investing with Purple Arch.