The whirlwind of 2018 has caused a brief blogging hiatus on our end, and we’re happy to finally finish this blog series on our story, thesis, and investment process. With a now fully deployed first fund and a budding second fund of four portfolio companies to date, we have re-thought much of how we onboard, engage, and support our family of founders. Though a lot of our efforts will be upgraded after the new year (announcements coming in 2019!), we’re excited to share the foundation of our community management.
Our last blog ended at the point of closing the deal. Here’s what happens after the money is wired.
The most important part of our post-funding onboarding meeting with the CEO is sparked by this key question:
What didn’t you tell us before we invested that we should know, and what did we overlook in our due diligence process that we should have asked?
To date, we have never heard anything that we didn’t already at least suspect, but we have found that this question teases out the topics that are currently top-of-mind.
We also use these meetings to discuss use of proceeds. While this topic is discussed throughout the fundraising process, it’s helpful to concretely go through the 6-12-month plan once the funding is a reality.
Lastly, part of the meeting is dedicated to housekeeping:
Best practices on running Board meetings and managing Board relationships
Discussion on filling independent Board seats
Investor communication/reporting guidelines & examples, including expectations for monthly updates & financial statements
Managing the dynamics of a successful post-investment relationship is not rocket science, but it requires some figuring out - we try to make the transition as seamless as possible for our founders so they can focus on what really matters: building their businesses.
Given our high conviction, high concentration portfolio strategy (7 companies in Fund I and 12-14 companies expected in Fund II), we devote a significant amount of our time to portfolio support. We firmly believe that if you invest in the right people, provide the appropriate support structures, and prioritize quality over quantity, you can fundamentally change early stage success rates.
For the first ~18 months post-investment, we are on-call 24/7 for founders, proving an extra set of hands across sales team structure, key hires, enterprise business development, future fundraising, and everything in between. We tend to take Board or Board observer seats, further amplifying our commitment. From finding independent Board members to interviewing key executives and everything in between, we are in the trenches as much or as little as founders ask us to be.
As our companies grow into and beyond Series A rounds, our role evolves into more of a consigliere - though we may be less involved on a daily or weekly basis, we remain a sounding board and network resource over the lifetime of the investment.
All of the events and community initiatives we do at Laconia are highly bespoke, curated, and scrappy :) Without diving into the nitty gritty, below are a few ways we drive connection among our founders:
A portfolio-wide founder listserv, allowing founders to share announcements, questions, and ideas with each other
An annual summer camp retreat
A semi-annual Cocktails & Conversation dinner bringing together our LPs, founders, and a keynote guest speaker
Functional founder roundtables on highly requested topics (HR/hiring, scaling sales infrastructure, PR/marketing)
Curated industry-specific dinners uniting founders, investors, and senior industry executives
As we wrap up this blog series, we hope it has provided some transparency into our venture process and thinking, thus expanding access to this world to founders who are not necessarily already in the inner circles. We couldn’t be more excited to dive into 2019 and continue building our tight-knit, collaborative community.