• Vilma Arceo

What Working on Business Development at Keyframe Is Like

When I was eight years old, I ran a global chocolate empire – at least until the free trial of Chocolatier ran out. So last year, when I came across the job I have now at Keyframe and the description noted I’d have the chance to cultivate executive-level business development skills, I was pumped. Finally, for the first time since I’d tested the limits of Windows 2005 to acquire recipes, negotiate cacao prices, and fire a chocolate cannon, I’d get to develop my skills again at a cool job.

Keyframe may not have a chocolate cannon (yet), but we have a flexible investment mandate and a portfolio of ~20 companies at different stages innovating across mobility, energy, and other industries. And while our business development work doesn’t involve selling chocolate, it is uniquely rewarding because of that variety and flexibility.

We invest in industries going through an intense technology-driven transformation at Keyframe (fleet electrification and building operational efficiency are two examples). Business development for us is about meaningfully engaging in these industries to create value – we take an open-minded approach to what that looks like.

Since I joined Keyframe in April 2021, market engagement for me has looked like everything from hosting a happy hour on building decarbonization, braving a West Coast red-eye to go to the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo, and learning everything I could about EV charging software, and more. Put simply, I get to meet smart people in the energy transition; more importantly, I get to learn from them. Initial learnings might seem simple, like finding out that a CPO stands for “Charge Point Operator,” but I’ve learned that being curious will help me uncover more complexity. I learned what a CPO was, then I got to meet someone running one, and learned about their priorities, customers, and pain points. This learning (and being able to do it quickly) forms the foundation for the business development team’s second goal: creating value, for the investment process and the portfolio.

Our investment process is defined by our market engagements and market selection. Everyone on the Keyframe team is a nerd about the markets where we spend time (see team bios for proof). The role of the business development team is to help us go deeper into these markets and to direct the team to spaces we think they could get even more excited about. Once we’ve discovered a thread, we can direct the team’s efforts to pull on it and quarterback that effort. Adding value to the investment process looks like doing just that: finding a new market, contextualizing it for the team, mapping it, and knowing the Keyframe mandate well enough to help find the right opportunity in it. This approach to learning and synthesizing information informs value creation for our portfolio as well.

When trying to create value for our portfolio, we let their leaders educate us on what their business development priorities are and why. I’ve spent part of my time meeting the Chief Revenue Officers, Chiefs of Staff, Heads of Sales, and other folks that are defining these priorities. I’m constantly developing my understanding of their product, who their customers are, what their partners do, and can use this understanding to be creative about adding value. Like with the investment process, curiosity and creativity are rewarded.

Hopefully, you see what I mean by this job being just as fun as the kind of video game you’re willing to delete and reinstall continuously in the name of free trials. If you do, and you want to do it– you’re in luck. Keyframe is hiring an Associate/Principal to join us on the business development team.

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