There's no playbook for being a founding CEO.

Founders are special individuals. They see a problem in the world that needs to be fixed and bring a unique vision and determination to change the status quo.

As a founding CEO, you not only need to build the product - you need to build the business and culture, and be able to scale both yourself and the organization you are leading.

There is no CEO school to learn how to navigate all of the things necessary to run a growing company, particularly in today's challenging market.

And many times, you are unable to turn to your board, team or even co-founders to help you, adding a feeling of isolation to an already challenging role.

That's where Arena Partners can help.

We've sat in your chair.

We are former founders and multiple-time CEOs of early-stage, venture-backed software companies. We've seen it all.

Our companies have generated hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue, served tens of thousands of customers, employed thousands of people and raised dozens of rounds of angel and venture capital with multiple exits.

We’ve been through multiple boom and bust cycles.  We’ve scaled through hyper-growth and downsized to survive.  We’ve built high performing teams and made our fair share of bad hires.  We’ve bought and sold companies, and led teams both home and abroad. 

Point being, we uniquely understand what you are facing.

Let our operating expertise help you.

Our decades of real-world operating experiences and battle-informed insights help you in the areas most critical to scaling a SaaS company.


Hiring and leading an executive team that are more experienced than you are


Developing the appropriate GTM motion to move your product from first customers to repeatable and scalable revenue


Building company alignment and establishing the proper supporting cadence and culture to ensure operational harmony


Managing a diverse board of investors, directors and co-founders with different needs and personalities


Evolving your natural leadership style as forged only by the CEO role

Start making better decisions, faster and with more confidence and eliminate the fear, uncertainty and doubt that keeps you up at night.

Our approach is different and better.

Unlike executive coaches or CEO peer groups, our advantage comes in three distinct ways.


Team Model

When you work with one of us, you have access to the entire partnership as we tap the collective wisdom of the partner group and our vast network of subject matter experts.



The start-up world does not work on a schedule. If you have a pressing question or issue, we’re available to help navigate it through with you in the moment.



Unlike a coach, if a situation arises where you need us to get on the field with you, we have that ability. Our sleeves are always rolled up.

Interested in learning more? Let's schedule a call.

We can work with you in a variety of ways.

There are three ways we can add value to your organization, each with a different level of reach and impact.


We help you navigate the daily opportunities and challenges you are facing in your growing business on a 1:1 basis. Think of us as a sounding board, a safe space to ask questions, a thought partner to help you think through big strategic questions and decisions.

Operating Partner

In this more hands-on role, we work with you and members of your team to improve alignment and operational execution of the strategic initiatives critical to the company. This deeper level of engagement allows us to better understand the inner workings of the business and turn ideas into action faster.

Board Director

We believe the more operating experience on the board the better. Adding us to your board will bring a different voice and perspective to the board room, which elevates and enhances the quality of those discussions and the impact of that group.

Meet the team ready to go on this journey with you.


John Tedesco

Founding Partner

It all started for me when I was in college visiting my sister at her new job on Wall Street. I looked at the rows of cubicles where she sat and thought to myself, “I don’t want to be just a cog in the wheel.” Using technology to disrupt the status quo and challenge slow-moving incumbents naturally appealed to me. I’ve been involved with the early stage tech ecosystem ever since, founding three companies and working with dozens of other technology companies across a variety of industries.

I’ve been fortunate to work side by side with some amazing founders over the years as they built market leading businesses. I have watched them grow in the CEO role to meet business demands and seen them work in their particular zone of genius.

For years, Jonathan, Rob and I turned to each other when we needed a second set of eyes, ears – or in some cases – hands as we dealt with the multitude of decisions facing us as CEOs.  Arena Partners is really the culmination of those years of informal support now directed to a broader audience of equally hungry, equally visionary set of CEOs looking to achieve their full potential.

Jonathan Niednagel

Founding Partner

My wife says that I have a recessive gene that draws me to startups. Over two decades ago I willingly chose to leave a great job, with great people and great pay, to try and do it on my own. For some inexplicable reason, I still can’t stop.

Over the past two decades, I’ve founded three different venture backed businesses and run several more as a non-founding CEO. I spent almost seven years on the other side of the table as a partner at an early-stage venture fund, so I’ve seen both sides. 

For me, Arena Partners is a combination of all of the advisors, board members, co-founders, partners, and colleagues that I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years that were far smarter than I was. The empathy and experience that made them collectively so helpful to me, I would like to pass on to the next person with that same recessive gene.

Rob Goehring

Founding Partner

My entrepreneurial journey kicked off when I was eight. My older brother and I started cleaning offices, mowing lawns and caddying at a ritzy local golf course. Having a business card, earning money, and being my own boss was infused in my DNA by my father from an early age. My interest in business quickly merged with the tech world when my best friend’s parents bought an early Apple computer (pre Mac!). 

Within a year I saved up $1,000 and bought an Apple IIe clone, assembled it, taught myself BASIC, and I was hooked on the transformative nature of technology.  

Fast forward and a few decades later, I have founded 3 startup companies, been an executive at many more, and helped raise capital for many ventures as a seed investor and founding board member. 

I’ve had the great luck to work across multiple industries – telecom and mobile, fintech, martech and multiple businesses in AI. Along the way, some of my greatest joys have been working alongside other founders and CEOs as they navigate their journey.  I was fortunate enough to have John, Jonathan, and others guide and support me when I needed it, and I’m excited to work with more entrepreneurs under the Arena banner.

Don’t take our word for it.

Here are a few of the founders we’ve worked with and the impact we’ve had on them and their business.

"As a start-up co-founder I've had opportunities to work with many mentors, but John stands out as one of the most effective. John's broad experience meant that he had relevant examples of methods and processes we could use as our work progressed. John helped us navigate a successful acquisition, helping us understand the offer and industry norms for deals like ours."

Peter Bohacek
Co-Founder, Former CEO, Pivot Interactives (acquired by Discovery Education)

"Whenever I come to John with something I'm experiencing, he is never surprised, always has a thoughtful idea to try, and has a special skill of cutting right to the heart of whatever I'm experiencing. Of course this makes him a good sounding board but more than that, when I try the things we discuss, they are actually helpful. I'm consistently excited to spend time working with John. You should be too."

Justin Ley
CEO, Reema Health

"As a first-time founder, everything you touch is new: hiring a team, developing a culture, building up your go-to-market motion, investing in R&D, and the list goes on. I found it helpful to have an experienced co-pilot on board who has led through each one of these situations. I was able to learn from the mistakes of others and attempt to decrease the amount of mistakes I will naturally make."

Neal Sarraf
Founder, First Resonance

"We wanted a CEO advisor who has been in the hot seat, is a great listener, and can truly understand the challenges we face as early-stage founders/CEOs. John helped the leadership team focus on the things that matter: communication, impactful cross-functional KPIs, and how to become better problem-solvers, ultimately. John’s approach is firm but fair. My only regret – I wish I had met John many years ago!"

Mark Ruiters
Founder and former CEO, SchoolPass (acquired by Raptor Technologies)

"Rob has been an exceptional voice of wisdom for the growth, go-to-market strategy, and governance of our company. In our highly competitive industry, it is all too easy to overlook the importance of seeking unbiased and trusted external advice. Rob's contribution as an advisor has been invaluable in identifying and exploring new initiatives and opportunities. He consistently proposes practical solutions for every problem, and seems to know three contacts for every niche business objective that we identify!"

Matthew Housser
Founder & CEO, Convergence Concepts, Giant Leap AI

"When you start a company, the road is long, lonely, and without a GPS. Finding the right advisor can be the difference between floundering vs. navigating through uncharted waters. I was able to limit my floundering and effectively navigate hard problems because I had strong, trusted advisors like John."

Chad Halvorson
Founder, Chairman and Former CEO, When I Work

"John will pick up - through the quagmire of what you're swimming through - the acute problem you can't quite find the way to articulate and nail it concisely as well as have three ideas to experiment with problem solving. I never cease to walk away from our conversations amazed at how much simpler everything seems, and with clearer direction on a path forward. It feels like magic every time I have a conversation with him."

Dug Nichols
Former CEO, Kidizen

"Rob is an exceptional startup advisor who possesses an unparalleled depth and breadth of experience in the entrepreneurial realm. Rob's skill set encompasses both strategy and operations, and he offers invaluable insights that drive business success. What truly sets Rob apart is his unwavering dedication to founders, always going the extra mile to provide guidance and support. His brilliant mind, combined with his empathetic and helpful attitude, makes him a truly remarkable advisor."

Ashish Anand
Founder and CEO, Workforce Wellness

"I look at Arena and Jonathan as that seasoned co-navigator helping me captain the ship. There are many sources of maps and guides, but there is nothing like having someone in the boat with you who has been through these waters before. There’s always something there that could impact the voyage that is not marked on those maps and not easy to see. With Jonathan’s guidance we were able to turn to avoid those mishaps. You get to see their successes and probably more importantly their mistakes and learn from them before you make them yourself."

Adam Kaufman
CEO, Canary Health

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