How Munich Re Ventures built an efficient VC tech stack and drove 96% adoption with Affinity
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Munich Re Ventures is the San Francisco-based venture arm of Munich Re, the largest reinsurance company and the leading global provider of primary insurance and reinsurance in the world. The firm has $1 billion in assets and a commitment to investing in the most innovative startups across risk transfer, including InsurTech P&C and Life/Health, Cybersecurity & Privacy, ClimateTech, Equipment Technologies, and the Future of Transportation. .
With Affinity, MRV has moved away from a legacy CRM and spreadsheets to having a single source of truth anchoring its technology ecosystem. Affinity automatically captures the firm’s emails, contacts, and meetings in one place, and ingests data from multiple sources, setting the stage to be a more sophisticated company and fund.
With Affinity, MRV can now:
- Standardize the firmwide intake process through its Typeform integration, automating lead creation and saving the team 3-5 minutes of manual data entry over thousands of leads per year
- Automatically surface all relevant information on and interactions with companies and contacts, allowing anyone in the firm quickly access relevant information and make data-driven decisions
- Ensure communications with internal stakeholders, portfolio companies, and prospective investment opportunities are proactive, relevant, and timely
Fragmented data across different tools
Putting together a tech stack is one of the most crucial pieces of standing up a successful venture capital firm and ensuring operational excellence. It takes certain building blocks to ensure that the tech stack is successfully implemented and supports the firm from deal sourcing to portfolio management.
Pedro Carrasco, Senior Operations Manager at Munich Re Ventures shares that data cleanliness, alignment across the team, and a single source of truth are the main tenets of what makes a tech stack successful. “All of these things together will unleash the opportunity to create data driven insights for our team members to make investment decisions and devise more effective strategies.”
A couple of years back, as the firm began growing from a handful of employees to now over 30, they recognized the need to enhance their operational efficiency and decision-making process.
Back then, MRV was working almost exclusively with Microsoft and other legacy tools. The team captured almost all their data in Excel, used Office365 for email, calendars, video conferencing, and to capture all processes, policies, and other knowledge documentation. The firm had a tool to capture deal flow, which captured where things were process-wise, but the software didn’t integrate to other tools in MRV’s tech stack. “Nothing was connected to our email and we didn't know what relationships we had with people within specific funds or specific startups,” said Carrasco.
The firm needed a CRM that could anchor an innovative tech stack and serve as a single source of truth in their investment and portfolio management strategy.
A centralized hub for the VC tech stack
“When we implemented Affinity, things kind of shifted very quickly, and we moved from being a[…] traditional fund in the way we work to being a now productive, efficient, and driven fund,” said Carrasco. MRV almost immediately saw value with Affinity in being able to connect and sync everyone at the firm’s email inboxes. “That gave us a lot of insight as to which of our colleagues knew this person at startup x or has a relationship with this other investor,” Carrasco said. “Our teams and investors […] started talking to each other more often, and that became even more important as we started growing.”
Munich Re Ventures has achieved a 96% adoption rate firmwide with Affinity, and part of that is because Carrasco and his team have made efforts to remove friction and remind people of the benefits. This includes encouraging use of Affinity’s Pathfinder Chrome extension and Outlook plugin so it’s easy for someone to access Affinity’s data, whether they’re in their inbox or browsing a website. With the mobile app, the team keeps tabs on opportunities, even on the go. “That's particularly important because investors are on the road a lot, so if they have Affinity on their phones, and it's very easy to use, they can just keep track of what's happening there.”
Affinity’s seamless integration with the firm’s software ecosystem and automated activity aligned with the tenets Carrasco laid out earlier around making a VC tech stack successful.
The value of reporting in private capital
When it comes to data, Carrasco states that so much of a VC firm’s identity and reputation is tied to accurate reporting. Bringing in Affinity as part of a tech stack update allowed Munich Re Ventures to have a place where they could easily capture a lot of relationship data and identify opportunities. With Affinity’s insights and data analytics, the firm is able to uncover potential leads, perform a trend analysis to determine investment strategy, and support their forecasting.
Alignment across the team
Because Affinity automatically syncs everyone's emails, meetings, and contacts across the firm, cross-functional collaboration amongst teams becomes much easier. “Affinity creates visibility across teams, so if an investor chatted with someone […], then folks from our portfolio development team can go into that company's profile in Affinity and see how long the two have been communicating and ask for an introduction. That is the relationship intelligence that we're trying to unlock and super-power within Munich Re Ventures.”
With everyone having access to this information in Affinity, MRV has eliminated the risk of crossing wires and encourages a collaborative approach around how they communicate with their parent company and with their external contacts. “Because everybody's talking to each other internally, this creates a positive reputation within the market, and […] [we] understand what is happening at all times within our fund,” said Carrasco.
A single source of truth
When you implement a new tool into your tech stack, Carrasco shares, “the new tool that you get needs to integrate some way or another with your single source of truth. Within Munich Re Ventures, Affinity has become that tool.” Because the team uses Affinity’s integration with Slack and Pathfinder and Outlook extensions, the data, meeting notes, and other relevant information captured in this software automatically gets synced into Affinity. This results in Affinity serving as the firm’s single source of truth, where they can quickly access almost all information about a company or a contact.
Carrasco also shared that “having a single source of truth from a deal flow perspective and from an analytics perspective will unlock a lot of portfolio development opportunities.” This proved to be true when the firm began using Affinity to help manage their events. Because of all the relationship data that lives in Affinity, MRV’s Head of Marketing uses Affinity to put together relevant invite lists based on specific data or criteria and then invite those targeted individuals (through an integration with Eventbrite) to a curated event.
Taking Munich Re Ventures’ core values into the future
As MRV levels up its tech stack, having integrated Affinity across all of the fund’s various processes and into the other software ensures there is one place that connects the team’s internal and external interactions and data. This ties into one of MRV’s core principles of being One Team. “We all work together and are plugged into what is happening at all times, and that kind of common knowledge is very powerful when it comes to creating a good reputation and also delivering value […]” Carrasco said.
In the future, the firm plans to build tools that will automatically bring in leads into Affinity based on parameters the team has set up. The firm also is working closely with Affinity to develop more dashboards that capture and report the value add of their relationship data. “This will support us in quantifying the strategic value that we bring to both our portfolio companies and our parent company, which is a very important aspect of being a corporate venture capital fund,” said Carrasco.
With the firm’s constant commitment to leveling up their tech stack, Affinity will continue to surface relationship insights that will help Munich Re Ventures’ continued growth into remaining a top venture firm. “From a tech stack sophistication standpoint, we're probably in the 75 percentile,” Carrasco shared, “but we want to be at the 90-95 percentile within three years, and we already have all the foundation to get that done. We just need to execute on it. It's an exciting journey right now.”