Under-resourced and over-burdened, the life of an emerging fund manager is not an easy one. From perfecting your ‘why’ and unique value-add, to managing a two-sided sales process of founders and investors, you’re basically starting a business all on your own – without any shared insight, guidance, or resources.
For first-time fund managers, raising money is a tough road – and one that requires your full attention. Wasting time on tedious tasks that could be automated is unnecessary. The good news? It’s also completely avoidable. You just need a tech stack that helps you accomplish more with less and puts repetitive tasks on autopilot so you can focus on what matters most – building relationships.
When it comes to knowing exactly what to include in your emerging funds tech stack, we leaned on the expertise of four emerging fund managers. Here’s what they had to say.
What emerging fund managers include in their tech stack:
Kelly Graziadei and Joanna Shevelenko, f7 Ventures
Kelly Graziadei and Joanna Lee Shevelenko head up f7 Ventures, a female-led firm tackling issues of demographics and diversity in the startup world. Even with years of experience, they’re all too familiar with the challenges emerging fund managers face on a daily basis.
“Part of the challenge with venture and being an emerging manager is that there’s not a playbook. A lot of it’s learned by going out and talking to people, other investors, tracking down information, and really trying to teach yourself the job. And there’s a lot of jobs to be done. From sourcing, picking, and winning deals to negotiating terms, helping founders, and building a firm, it’s a lot of hats. And you’re doing all of that with very little operating capital to scale your resources.” – Kelly Graziadei, General Partner, f7 Ventures
When asked what tech tools they use to increase their productivity, Joanna shared that they approached building F7 like building a company. Being very operational in nature, they evaluated quite a few tools and chose ones that helped increase overall efficiency and scalability, including:
- Affinity CRM to track and manage deals.
- Asana to organize projects and to-do lists.
- Airtable to monitor company performance and document how we’re helping companies.
- Notion to share important documents and content with our founders.
- WhatsApp to facilitate quick communication.
- DocSend to store, share, track materials, and build data rooms and fundraising decks.
When asked what advice Kelly and Joanna have for new emerging fund managers, they stressed the importance of knowing your unique value-add. “Given the amount of emerging managers on the scene today, it’s really important to figure out what that value-add is that you’re bringing to these early stage companies and being able to articulate that so it’s not just transactional capital. We’re seeing that becoming more and more important.” – Joanna Shevelenko, f7 Ventures
Kelly also shares that with the new influx of emerging fund managers, it’s incredibly important to be open and collaborative. “When making the move from operator to investor in venture, a lot of people said, “Operating is a team sport. Venture’s not a team sport.”, but that’s not been our experience and that’s not the direction that I see the ecosystem going.”
Brom Rector, Empath Ventures
Brom Rector founded Empath Ventures after spending 7 years as a quantitative researcher at multiple hedge funds. Disillusioned and burnt out, Brom left to embark on a more meaningful path; managing a psychedelic VC fund.
When it comes to leaning on tech to get more done with less, Brom shares that he keeps it pretty minimal, “As a one man emerging manager, everything’s a little bit chaotic. So, when it comes to tools, I try to keep things pretty simple.”
Here’s his must-have list:
- Airtable, used as a CRM to manage and track deals.
- TextExpander to set up custom abbreviations and link them to larger pieces of text.
- Twitter memes to engage people with interesting content.
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator for outreach.
- Mailchimp for email automation.
“There’s nothing comparable to DocSend. If you’re not using it – as a startup founder or investor – there’s a problem. DocSend just comes across as so much more professional than something like Google Docs.“
Although these tools help, it takes more than the right software in your arsenal to figure out how to navigate the emerging fund space.
When asked what advice he had for emerging fund managers, Brom was quick to mention the lack of resources available. Despite his finance background and years-long career in the hedge fund space, he felt like he was starting from square one. You have to figure out how to make a name for yourself as a thought leader in whatever sub-segment of the market you’re trying to operate in, and use that to drive traffic in any way you can. Click To Tweet Posting interesting content on LinkedIn and Twitter is key (which is where the Twitter memes come in handy). I also have a podcast, where I interview a lot of CEOs and founders in the psychedelic space, which has been very helpful in driving a lot of traffic and awareness to my fund.”
Another thing is that there’s a lot of talk on the internet about how cold outreach is useless. That’s not actually true. If you’re intelligent about the way you craft outreach messages, more often than not, you’ll get a response. “For example, I send LinkedIn messages of no more than 3-4 sentences to LPs. I’ve found that including a pitch deck or Calendly link is ineffective. What’s much better is just saying, “Hey, I’m raising a psychedelics fund. We’ve done seven investments and there are two or three big name LPs that I’m going to name drop right now. Is this something you would be interested in?”. No link to a pitch deck, no nothing. And just making the person interact with you if they want to find out more, rather than just giving them everything upfront. Now, all of a sudden you’re having a conversation.”
Paige Doherty, Behind Genius Ventures
Paige Doherty is the co-founder of Behind Genius Ventures. Her firm focuses on investing in the future of work and the future of play, and founders who are product-centric and community-fluent. Paige is a trailblazer in many ways, including spearheading the build of a remote-first firm.
“Being able to leverage software has been really helpful. It’s just myself and my partner, Josh, but the use of automation has helped it feel a lot bigger. Automate as much as possible, so you can focus on the core of the work, which is building and managing relationships – you can’t automate that.
From the bottom up, here’s Paige’s emerging funds tech stack:
- First Republic Bank for banking.
- Carta for fund administration.
- DocSend for sending out pitch decks and data rooms.
- Close used as a CRM to track relationships with investors, potential investors, portfolio founders, and potential portfolio founders.
- Zapier to automate various processes, like adding applications as leads within our CRM, so that we can review them in a systematic process.
- Typeform for our application process.
- Riverside to record my podcast.
- Descript for podcast editing and transcription.
- Ramp for expense reporting.
- Earth Class Mail to set up virtual mailing addresses.
- Webflow for website management.
- 1password to store, share, and secure passwords.
- Automatter newsletter to learn what other fund managers are doing.
Paige’s advice for emerging fund managers? “Steady yourself. It’s a very emotionally grueling process. Finding support in routines, friends and family, or your partner is really important because it’s a really hard road to travel. Also, make sure you’re focusing on your own health. If you forget about it, your body will tell you when you need to take a break and it will probably be at an inopportune time like sleeping through an investor call after staying up all night workin on our deck.”
Paige also highlights the importance of community and peer mentorship when starting an emerging fund. “Having a community of folks on the same path as you has been really helpful, because you get to learn, teach, and commiserate, which has been really valuable to my process.”
Emerging funds have a better chance of raising capital with the right tools
Building a successful fund is by no means an overnight success story. It can take months to raise your first fund, and it’s completely normal to hear a ton of ‘no’s’ along the way. Incorporating the tips and tools above can help you save time and sanity. Learn how DocSend can help accelerate your fundraising efforts and give you x-ray vision into exactly where investors are engaging with your pitch deck.