How to run a more efficient office
Startup fund managers work across multiple functions such as portfolio research, fundraising, marketing and operations. The fund manager’s workflow includes but is not limited to;
- Updating models
- Efficiently managing deal flow
- Supporting several different portfolio companies
- General business operations.
In this over-scheduled and increasingly virtual business world where team members are often on the road, and across multiple time-zones I have always felt mind-reading would be a very valuable skill. Until science discovers a solution; developing effective communication remains the cornerstone to a team’s success.
Below are some of the key questions team members want answers to:
- Who did you talk to (investor, pipeline company, service provider, etc.)?
- What are the action items as a result of that conversation?
- How are we going to get this work done?
Any misstep along this timeline could mean a missed opportunity to make an investment or to close a new limited partner. To ensure a high level of productivity, you need the proper tools. The basic building blocks include tools to communicate (internally and externally) and a way to collaborate. Having an easily searchable file system is also paramount.
Email is for communication – not your “to do” list
A successful fund manager spends much of his/her time communicating with limited partners, portfolio companies, potential investors, etc. To reduce the amount of email, the goal at Capria is to only use email to communicate with outside partners. For communication with Capria team members we use the task manager, Asana. Although there are occasional exceptions to the rule, if you need a team member to do something you assign a task in Asana, and do not send an email request.
This convention has several benefits;
- it means you have less email to sort through
- your “to do” list is not buried in your inbox
- when the tasks are part of a project then the whole team can follow the progress
- if the project is recurring (quarterly close, capital calls) you can simply turn the project into a template (no need to reinvent the wheel)
Conversations: Documenting, Sharing, Staying Informed
Taking comprehensive notes during a call or at a meeting is an important skill for all of us to learn. Fund managers are often going in different directions; one partner is at a fundraising meeting while another is meeting with the management of a potential investment. At Capria, with offices in both Seattle and Bangalore, information gathered from calls/meetings/research are shared across the team creating a common knowledge base. Evernote Notebooks that are shared with the team mean that no one needs to track you down and ask, “what happened on that conference call?”
Centralized File Storage – Location, Location, Location
The cloud’s time has arrived. Using a centralized, cloud-based storage system such as Dropbox further reduces the clutter in your inbox. Using this kind of storage system means that team members can access files from anywhere, back-ups are seamless and there is no longer the need to continually email files back and forth.
Too many cooks in the kitchen is not always a bad thing
When the Capria investment team met to evaluate fund manager applications the criteria were updated and rearranged in real-time by the team members using a dashboard created in Google sheets. No time was wasted while we waited for one team member to update his/her edits, everyone could simultaneously add their contributions. Our “how to and FAQ” docs, fundraising event details, and pipeline tracking are other kinds of docs/sheet that are stored on Google Drive.
Lively discussion about digital tools and developing best practices for fund managers is part of the Capria Intensive. If you’re interested in working with us, apply now at capria.vc/apply or contact us.