venture capital and new tech to create value
I was a VC. I personally loathed reviewing 250 opportunities and meeting 100 founders per year. But I loved the bit that came after: deal structuring, deal closing and working with inspiring founders.
my VC role
The post-deal aspects of the VC role were just awesome, balancing my time across four things:
- Ensuring clarity on strategy versus what we’ll achieve each quarter
- Solving problems and assisting with talent and distribution connections
- Searching for ways to go 10x on growth and value creation
- Planning ahead for the next funding or transaction milestones
my VC reality
When I look back now I think:
- Momentum and clarity gets lost between the cycle of calls/meetings/emails/reports
- Founders get overwhelmed with their own learning curve, especially as the company starts to scale, and the personal struggles they are going through often surface too late
- Strategy and execution evolves fast, and avoidable mistakes start to kick in
- The best and worst of human nature abounds, with no shortage of surprises
what would have helped
Firstly, being able to see, in real time, the exact status and underlying cadence on:
- strategy tree, providing clarity for everyone
- OKRs, balancing strategy and daily execution
- employee sentiment and engagement
- team players/innovators/rising stars
- headlines and an interactive global heatmap, showing what’s hot right now
Secondly, being able to freely engage in the debates, discussions and ideas taking place at all different levels inside the investee company. Breaking free of the traditional constraints of functional silos, management hierarchy and meeting cycles. Here is one of many on Elon Mask tackling the problem of silos and hierarchy.
Thirdly, embracing radical transparency. It is healthy for investee company management and employees to see the VC’s ongoing contributions firsthand. This builds trust and engagement, and it accelerates professional development. Radical Transparency was made famous by Ray Dalio’s book Principles.
leveraging tech to create VC portfolio value
#stratapp, the world’s first org-wide strategy execution app, delivers on everything I have listed above.
I remember during 2005 to 2009 there was a wave of SaaS products for VC portfolio management. I didn’t rate them, as I thought modern CRMs were perfect for tracking opportunities from deal generation through to deal filtering and deal doing. Tier-1 CRMs offer way more flexibility on customising layouts, workflow, dashboards and reporting, not to mention mobile functionality. CRM companies also have bigger budgets to innovate faster.
However post-deal, the value creation work (ideas, strategies, direction, why, plans, risks, initiatives, projects and day to day execution) needs to sit within the investee company itself. For three reasons: 1) that’s where you want the IP, strategy and execution value created; 2) subsequent investment rounds due-diligence; and 3) effective onboarding of new hires as the company scales.
Therefore post-deal, I believe VCs should encourage their investee companies to embrace #stratapp, as it is a natural win:win:win:win for investors:founders:management:employees.
subsequent round due diligence & new hires
Imagine how simple due-diligence will be on subsequent funding rounds, when the investee company can show inside #stratapp everything that has taken place on the journey thus far - the struggles, the pivots and the wins, and how the culture has evolved over time. Data that is live and interactive, and therefore credible, rather than produced as a one-off exercise to pass DD.
The same capability provides an incredible onboarding experience for team leaders, managers and executives that join as the investee scales. Taking a pause to look back and learn, is just as important as looking forward.
investment managers & company directors
Technology is fast changing how boards of directors operate, especially on start-ups. Progressive company directors are proficient on SaaS apps for finance, CRM and MarTech. They don’t need to bombard management teams with questions in preparation for board meetings. Progressive company directors can actually drill down inside the SaaS apps that generate the board reports.
The role of the board of directors encompasses strategy, execution performance, risk management and culture - which is all at their fingertips inside #stratapp. The rapidly improving aptitude of VCs and company directors to embrace next gen tech is good timing for #stratapp.
Use a tier-1 CRM to manage deal flow, engagement, due diligence and completion, as well as overall portfolio reporting and compliance.
Use #stratapp inside each investee company to:
- Accelerate strategy execution, achieving org-wide engagement and alignment as the investee scales
- De-risk the investment, bringing risk management alive and interactive inside the investee
- Provide depth and credibility for passing due diligence on future funding rounds
- Improve the speed and quality of onboarding new hires as the investee scales
The author, Ash Richardson, is ex-Accenture and went onto become managing partner of Europe’s leading digital media firm, Oyster Partners (now https://www.digitas.com), before lead roles in corporate finance and early-stage tech VC, coached by two of the best, Bruce Scott and Bob Christiansen.
#stratapp is built on Microsoft Service Fabric, runs on Microsoft Azure and feeds content to Microsoft Teams and #slack.
#stratapp has experienced co-founders, with a 10 year vision backed by investors who are market leaders.