3 ways to optimize your tech modernization project

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Connor Hughes, CTO at Artesian, says that by 2025, more than 75% of venture capital firms will be making deals influenced by machine learning. Yet many firms today are still relying on disparate data and manual processes to make decisions.

Two years ago, as the incoming CTO for one of the largest early stage VCs in the southern hemisphere, Hughes had one goal: scale the firm beyond manual processes. Artesian had been tracking their relationships and deal flows through a combination of Excel spreadsheets, Trello boards, and emails.

“To grow sustainably, you can’t keep adding more people,” Hughes said. “Artesian recognized that there needed to be a digital transformation to automate key pieces of the investment and collaboration process.”

We spoke to Hughes for his recommendations on how to modernize deal sourcing processes, and ultimately maximize ROI. Watch the full conversation or keep reading for the highlights, with time-stamps to help you dive deeper where you want to.

Recommendation #1: Remove all information silos

Starts at 5:40

“Remove information silos” is another way of saying that your whole team should have access to the same information—and more of it, packaged in a way they can use.

Before Hughes adopted new technology for Artesian, he said that, “One VC team member famously observed that her email inbox was her workflow system.” Even the team members who used the tools they were given found the data was siloed and scattered.

A typical workflow looked something like this: when Artesian started exploring a potential deal, a team member would manually create a record in Trello, look up company data in Pitchbook, then add more data to other Trello boards during the evaluation process, with no integration for financial reporting.

Thankfully this isn’t the case now.

Another data integration bonus—which Hughes stressed is a must in 2023—is saving money. When you tear down information silos, you can also eliminate duplicate software platforms you don’t need anymore.

Recommendation #2: Make API integrations a top priority

Starts at 9:54

More VCs will use machine learning to make investment decisions in the coming years. But machine learning only works well when it’s using quality data from many sources.

APIs are the key to how the team at Artesian determines their investability score. The API integrations they use have centralized data to one piece of relationship intelligence software, where opportunities are assessed for quality. Hughes detailed the tech stack and workflow:

“When a new company is submitted to our Typeform, it flows into Affinity and fires off a new message in Microsoft Teams. The pitch deck or video is saved automatically in Microsoft SharePoint, then company information is enriched by PitchBook automatically. Then we pull financial information from eFront, and the last step is to build a unifying validator with Power BI’s business intelligence reports.”

API integrations make this workflow possible. They ensure data is accurate, always updated, and consistent for everyone on the Artesian team.

Recommendation #3: Ensure technology is easy to use for everyone

Starts at 12:50

Technology is never just about technology. It’s also about how people use it—so it needs to be easy to get people on board.

“At previous organizations,” Hughes said, “I've had some resistance from people because they need to get used to creating a new contact record in a different way. Instead I recommend adopting technology that does this automatically through your mail client. Then people just get the data and they’re able to do more interesting things to move companies through workflows.”

Hughes finds that a kanban view is the easiest way for analysts to triage and move deals through the pipeline. Artesian uses simple labels on each contact record in their relationship intelligence software to work through each stage of a potential investment through to funding.

“Affinity has helped us scale up and spread out,” Hughes said, “do more with less, and reduce the amount of data that lives in people's inboxes.” Before Artesian’s tech overhaul, members of their VC team were reluctant to take a vacation because they couldn’t hand over deals to other team members. All deal information existed in emails or notebooks or inside people’s heads.

Now all the context anyone needs to pick up where one person left off exists in one platform—meaning people can actually leave the office and enjoy their time off.

To learn more about Artesian’s digital transformation process, read the case study. Hear from other leading VC firms at our upcoming Campfire conferences.

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