Anchor List: Anand Chopra-McGowan, Former Managing Director of EMEA at General Assembly
The Anchor List recognizes extraordinary operators in the startup ecosystem. Learn more at anchorlist.com
In our highlight reel of top startup operators, Anand Chopra-McGowan deserves special mention for his performance leading enterprise business development at General Assembly.
“Creativity is critical for success in enterprise sales, but too much creativity in the structure of the deal itself can block the path to scale.”
After growing up in India and graduating from Boston University, Anand dived head-first into business development, first at an advertising agency and then at a Boston-based gaming company that pivoted to mobile payments to enable its sale to Grubhub for $390M in 2018.
Upon joining General Assembly in 2011, Anand was the digital skills training company’s first business development hire. Anand’s impact includes:
Laying the foundation for General Assembly’s enterprise business, the major strategic asset that enabled General Assembly’s acquisition by the Adecco Group in 2018 for $400m. Anand and his team closed multiple multi-million dollar enterprise deals with companies including GE, Walmart, BNP Paribas, and L’Oréal.
As VP, EMEA, Anand grew General Assembly’s non-US enterprise business from 16% of enterprise revenue in 2016 to over 57% in 2019.
Closing a $40M 5-year enterprise deal at a time when the company’s entire revenue was only $100M per year.
In advising other sales and business development leaders, Anand is viciously tactical. He credits much of his success to:
Qualifying deals objectively and ruthlessly, recognizing that success comes not merely from where a sales team expends effort, but from what the team eschews. As he puts it, “It’s better to know a deal isn’t worth the time sooner rather than later.”
Developing a clear way to measure the impact your products have on customer businesses.
Incorporating knowledge management, training, and documentation/data. According to Anand, “Too many startups forget these elements and therefore repeat mistakes.”
Anand has a precise, nuanced perspective on creativity. Anand recommends creative deal-finding, not unusual deal-structuring. As he describes, “Creativity is critical for success in enterprise sales, but too much creativity in the structure of the deal itself can block the path to scale. In my experience, once a startup has product-market fit, its most successful enterprise salespeople take creative approaches to sourcing and closing deals, but are ruthlessly consistent in the core structure of the deal.” This view has enabled General Assembly to partner with other companies to increase revenue without significant costs, such as through the UK’s Apprenticeship Levy, where General Assembly provides formal training for a licensed partner that satisfies the rest of the apprenticeship requirement. Had General Assembly sought to satisfy the entire requirements of the Apprenticeship Levy itself, the company would have needed a large resource investment and significant expanse outside of the company’s core competency. Instead, it can sell its core offering for recurring revenue at high margins, with the Apprenticeship Levy accounting for more than 20% of its UK revenue.
Reflecting on Anand’s success, we’re particularly impressed by his tactical approach and willingness to pivot for additional deals. Showcased both in his success scaling General Assembly’s enterprise business and now in his new role launching the UK & Europe region for an edtech unicorn called Emeritus, Anand clearly has an unending drive for improvement and growth.