How Artesian streamlined their deal flow with Affinity
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Artesian is a global investment firm with more than $1B under management, 600+ portfolio investments, and eight offices around the world. They serve as an active early-stage investment team in addition to providing advisory services and venture capital as a service (VCaaS) functions for governments, organizations, and industry groups.
As they continued to grow into new markets and establish more offices around the world, they started seeking more and more opportunities to increase efficiencies. This kickstarted an organization-wide digital transformation initiative to remove information silos and scale more efficiently.
Their team realized that adding more people to the organization would actually become a hindrance to growth. Systematizing and automating key pieces of their investment process was a requirement for their next stage of maturation. With Affinity, Artesian was able to:
- Remove data silos that had formed in email inboxes, handwritten notes, Excel spreadsheets, and Trello boards, improving workgroup-wide visibility and data sharing
- Save time on operations by automating contact and deal data management and allowing the deal teams to remain focused on closing deals
- Save money by eliminating additional, manually managed software platforms that weren’t scaling to meet their team’s needs.
Scalable infrastructure to support rapid growth
Artesian has successfully grown globally for nearly two decades, but breaking into the next growth stage required some adjustments. “There was a recognition that in managing the next fund or the fund after that, we’d fall off a precipice. What made us successful in the past was not necessarily going to make us successful in the future,” Hughes shared.
The tools and systems Artesian relied on were incomplete and didn’t communicate with one another. Managing deal flow was onerous. Teams would have to manually count the number of deals in each deal stage. Intake for new companies was handled through nearly a dozen different online forms; these forms then fed into notes and contact records spread across email inboxes, handwritten notes, Trello boards, and Microsoft Planner entries.
Financial information was stored in a back-end accounting and finance system that didn’t communicate well with the front-end. “Everything was disjointed. There was no flow from front to back, and we were stuck asking questions like ‘Does anybody know Company X, Y, Zed? Have we invested in this company?’ Those questions were often difficult to answer,” Hughes continued.
Their team knew that a CRM would help, and after reviewing Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and Altvia, another investment-focused CRM solution, Artesian chose Affinity. “Altvia had a great system, but it required a lot of expensive customization. With Affinity, we just set it and forget it.”
Building a dependable, repeatable, and automated system
The first step to streamlining Artesian’s data management was simply launching Affinity. “Affinity has the onboarding experience down pat. You turn it on, it takes a few hours to pull all of your inbox data, and you have a full CRM.” With the platform up and running and Artesian’s full contact database centrally available, the next step was setting up integrations with their other software tools and further automating their workflows.
With Affinity’s API, they were able to integrate with:
- Typeform to manage incoming applications from startups
- Sharepoint to capture any files—including decks or pitch videos connected to an application
- Their backend data warehouse to ensure all financial information remains up to date with their contact information
All that data is automatically consolidated into a single activity timeline for a related contact, then flows into their team’s Affinity Analytics reporting dashboards.
“Affinity’s Kanban board view is really powerful. We manage our entire deal flow from it.” —Connor Hughes, CTO at Artesian.
Combining Affinity Analytics dashboards with the CRM’s Kanban board let their investment team manage deal flow all in one place. Sliding a card from one deal stage to the next automatically updates team-wide reports, so dealmakers can focus on prospecting rather than updating information in multiple apps.
These reports are regularly shared with Artesian’s partners for high-level updates. For example, as the team focuses on investing in more female founders, they’re able to show a detailed breakdown of which female founders are in the fund, whom they’re pursuing, and even showcase success metrics with partners and LPs.
Meanwhile, analysts, operations managers, portfolio managers, and even Artesian’s legal team are able to refer to the data stored in Affinity every day.
Becoming more efficient over time
Efficiently organizing and using data to inform business decisions creates a virtuous cycle: the more data you have and the easier it is to review, the better decisions you can make, and the new information you get from making a new decision informs your next one.
With their entire dealmaking ecosystem running through Affinity, Artesian knows exactly how to access all of their information when they need it. “If I want to know who’s been talking to a particular startup, I can find that organization in a list in Affinity, figure out which contact I can meet with, and dive into the complete history of our email communications. It’s been so important for our organization to be able to do that quickly,” Hughes said.
Streamlining their tech stack has also gone beyond making their day-to-day work easier; it’s also contributing to increasing their deal flow pipeline. With Affinity’s Typeform integration, applications submitted by startups outside of Artesian’s collective network are accurately captured and recorded rather than sent to a spam folder or lost in an inbox. “Some of these applications were going into the void. Now they’re being captured, worked through, evaluated, screened by analysts, and reviewed before sending onto portfolio managers. And all of that is happening in Affinity.” Concluded Hughes.
Scaling up and spreading out
As Artesian builds sustainable, repeatable processes that can scale alongside their business, they’re also found more use cases for Affinity in new areas of business development. With the support of Affinity’s product team, they’re actively making suggestions and collaborating to expand the platform. They plan to extend Affinity seats out to their VCaaS customers in the coming months to continue to grow their collective network.
“Affinity makes our investment team’s life easier. It makes my life easier.” - Connor Hughes, CTO