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Crafting the Perfect SaaS Board Deck: Templates, Guidelines, and Best Practices
As Matt Blumberg, CEO of Bolster, put it, “Leading a world-class board is one of the single most important things startup CEOs can do to help their businesses thrive and become industry leaders.” A crucial part of managing a board is the recurring board meeting. Many aspects impact a meeting but a well-crafted board deck can help strengthen a board meeting and empower the board and leadership team to make better decisions. Related Resource: How to Create a Board Deck (with Template) Learn more about crafting a SaaS board deck for your next board meeting below: The Power of a Well-Crafted SaaS Board Deck A well-crafted board deck can elevate a board meeting from good to great. A board is a valuable resource for founders and should be supported by founders as such. By properly preparing for a board meeting, founders and board members can leave the meeting with clear next steps, an understanding of impending challenges, and objectives for the board and team. Key Components of a SaaS Board Deck Every business and board is different. Different board members will likely want to see different discussion items and formats. Founders need to work with their board to find a format that works best for their team. Related Resource: Tips for Creating an Investor Pitch Deck However, there are some typical components that most founders and board members can expect to hit on in a SaaS board deck: 1. Executive Summary (CEO Update) Most board members will want to see an executive summary or CEO update. This can be a simple breakdown of highlights, lowlights, areas of focus, and any major news on your mind. This sets the tone for the meeting. When sharing lowlights, we recommend tying them into later discussions and working sessions. Pro tip: Take a look back at your investor updates from the month or quarter to help take a look back on the period. Related Resource: How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Board Meeting 2. Department Updates Next, we recommend spending a few minutes on department updates. This can be any major changes to hiring and headcount, open job positions you are actively looking to fill, and any highlights or changes related to company culture. 3. Product Roadmap Developing products is crucial for SaaS companies. Most board members will want insight into your product roadmap and how you are approaching monetization. This can include a recent product that was released with early usage data and a vision of where your product is headed over the next quarter. Board members might not be pros in your product/market so keep things high level and don’t spend too much time getting into the weeds — unless you have board members that will be able to offer insight into the market or product. 4. KPIs and Metrics Overview Board members will also want a look into KPIs and metrics. These should be metrics that stay consistent from meeting to meeting and are something that board members are familiar with. Similar to sharing a product roadmap, you’ll want to ensure you are not sharing too granular of data that can lead to confusion and loss of focus on the main objectives of the meeting. Pro tip: If you are regularly tracking your key metrics with a dashboarding tool it should be easy to pull data and metrics to prepare your board deck. 5. Financials and Projections The financial health of your business is crucial to board members. They will want a thorough understanding of your cash position and the financial health of your business. If you are consistently sharing updates with your investors and board members, there should be no surprises here. Board members will also want to look into your projections and understand how you are thinking about growth. 6. Working Sessions Lastly, board members can offer strategic help and advice when it comes to different aspects of your business. You can leverage working sessions to tap into their experience, network, and knowledge to help address potential challenges and risks that your business faces. Best Practices for Crafting a SaaS Board Deck Founders are busy. On top of the day-to-day duties of building a business, building a board deck can fall by the wayside. However, there are a few tips that founders can use to concisely craft a board deck. Check out a few best practices and tips below: Keep It Concise Yet Comprehensive As we alluded to above, you will want to find the balance of giving enough detail while keeping things clear and concise. Board members typically spend time with other companies and their careers so they will not understand your business at the same level that you do. However, you want to strap them with the information and data they need to help them succeed as a board member. Incorporate Data Visualization Wherever Possible Board meetings are full of a lot of information and data. Making the data and information as digestible and clear as possible to crucial to a strong meeting. We recommend leveraging data visualizations when possible. However, some visualizations can be confusing and lead to further questions. Keep your visualizations clear and simple. Storytelling Is Key Finding a flow and rhythm to your board meeting can be done with strong storytelling. Strong storytellers can tie in their data, challenges, customer stories, etc. to help board members stay engaged and get a good understand of the state of your business. Design and Aesthetics While the content of the board deck is what matters most a well-designed board deck certainly does not hurt. Finding the balance between a well-designed board deck and time is tricky. You will want to present your board deck in a polished and professional manner but do not want to take time away from critical business operations. At the end of the day, you want to make sure that your board deck portrays crucial information in an easy-to-interpret way. Start Your Funding Journey with Visible Running a successful board meeting can be a high-leverage activity for your startup. The easiest thing you can do is come prepared and ready to have a strategic conversation with the people who matter most to your business. Let us help prepare for your next board meeting or fundraising event. Raise capital, update investors, and engage your team from a single platform. Try Visible free for 14 days.
founders
Reporting
How to Create a Board Deck (with Template)
Startup founders are pulled in a hundred different directions on any given day. On top of building a product, hiring a team, fundraising, selling, and more, founders are responsible for managing relationships with investors and board members. Why is a Board Deck Important? Oftentimes, preparing for a board meeting can get buried in the list of to-dos. However, when leveraged correctly, your board members and meetings can be a high-leverage activity for success. As Matt Blumberg, CEO of Bolster, puts it, “​​Leading a world-class board is one of the single most important things startup CEOs can do to help their businesses thrive and become industry leaders.” To help you prepare for your next board meeting, we’ve put together a list of resources and tips to help you build and share your board deck. Learn more below. Related Resource: Our Downloadable Board Deck Template What Should You Include in Your Board Deck? The goal of a board of directors can be boiled down to helping a company achieve its goals. While there are certainly more areas, a board, especially for startups, is fit to help in a few key areas: Hiring and recruiting employees Provide direction and strategy for the company Represent other investors and members of the business Build a governance system Maintain relationships with CEO and executives To make sure that you are getting the most out of your board of directors, coming to your board meetings prepared is vital. One of the key aspects to help you guide your meeting and highlight key talking points is having a well-thought-out board deck. Learn more about what should be included in your board deck below: 1) A High-Level Update From the Founder To kick off any board meeting or board deck, there should be a quick high-level overview from the founder and/or CEO. The purpose of this is to set the tone for what is to come and a general overview of how the past period (month, quarter, etc.) went for the business. Be sure to share any big wins from the previous period or quickly hit on things that might be negatively impacting you and your company. Think of this as the “big picture” for both the previous period and the company as a whole. Using the sections below, you can use the high-level update as a time to quickly hit on each of those to set expectations for what is to come throughout the meeting. Related Resource: Crafting the Perfect SaaS Board Deck: Templates, Guidelines, and Best Practices 2) A Section on KPIs and Metrics Next, dig into the KPIs and metrics from the previous period. The purpose of this is to give everyone the proper data and context they need to understand decisions that will be made later in the meeting. These metrics and KPIs should be agreed upon beforehand and everyone in the room should understand what they mean and how they impact the business. It is important to keep these metrics consistent from meeting to meeting. This helps everyone focus on what truly matters and will build trust with investors. It is worth noting that this could include qualitative metrics as well — customer stories or quotes are always great to share! 3) An Update on the Team and Organization as a Whole After digging into your KPIs and metrics, spend some time on your org chart and hiring plans. One of the places boards are best suited to help with is hiring and finding key talent so making sure you make the most of this section is vital. We recommend starting with a current org chart so investors and board members can understand where your headcount lies. From here, we recommend hitting on what teams need additional talent and walking through the roles you are hiring for. Be prescriptive as possible so they can reach out to their networks and find candidates for your company. 4) Product Development Update At this point, you’ve likely hit on the organization as a whole and how the business is performing as a whole. Next, you will want to dig into the product development and status of any new features or products you’ve released or been working on since your last meeting. This can be a time to give additional metrics or share stories of how a new feature might be impacting your business. This can be used to further working/strategy sessions towards the end of the meeting. 5) An In-Depth Section on Organizational Strategy and Product Strategy Towards the end of your meeting is the true “meat and potatoes” of your meeting. This is a strategy or working session that should give you concrete steps and plans to take away from the meeting. It is generally recommended that this section should take 50%+ of your meeting time. This section can cover just about any issues you are facing as a founder (keeping in mind what your board members are best suited to help with). For example, if you are facing hiring challenges, highlight those and discuss what you want your org chart to look like. You can use it to plan a fundraising or financial event in the coming months. Or you can use this as a time to build a higher-level product roadmap. No matter what you use this for, make sure you have your talking points prepared so you can make the most of this section. 6) A Miscellaneous Chapter As always, save some time for miscellaneous or other topics. This can be official board business or governance. This might cover things like board resolutions, appointments, stock options, and more. Related Resource: What We’ve Learned From Investors About Running a Board Meeting Tips for Creating a Board Deck While there is no one-size-fits-all template to help you knock out your next board meeting deck, there are resources and best practices that you can use for your next meeting. Use a Template As we mentioned earlier, there are ~6 key areas you will likely want to hit on throughout a board meeting. Of course, the specifics and structure will vary from business to business. To help you select what is most important to your business, we’ve put together a board deck template. This template aims to help you structure the meeting and build your agenda. Give the board deck template a try here: Keep Slides Simple The goal of a board meeting is to prompt conversation. To do this, it is important to make sure your slides are simple and easily digestible. Make sure your slides are not full of unnecessary words and context. Use bullets and your narrative to help board members with any additional context they might need. Share Deck Materials Early To have the best conversation possible at your board meeting, you need to make sure everyone on your board is well prepared. To do so, make sure you are sending your board materials in advance so they can have an understanding of the past period and will be able to dig into tactical questions. As we wrote in our post, How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Board Meeting, “Most founders/CEO have found it best to send over their pre-meeting report/packet at least 4 days in advance.” Depending on your meeting cadence, you will want to send over things like your agenda, important matters, metrics, and more before your next board meeting to set the stage. Check out an example of what to send below: Related Resource: Pre-Board Meeting Update Template Use Visuals Ultimately the content of your deck is what matters most but having polished visuals certainly does not hurt. We suggest using concise and repeatable visuals in your board decks. For example, if you include a certain chart style/format, try to keep it consistent from deck to deck. There are also opportunities to improve your board with simple visuals and charts to help your board members visualize your company's status. Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a Board Deck Finding the right board deck format and style will likely take a few reps. As you sit through more board meetings, you should hear feedback and suggestions to help improve the actual format and content of your board decks. However, there are some common mistakes you can avoid from the get-go — check them out below: Not Having a Deep Understanding of Your Audience Board members want to see that you have an understanding of your audience — both themselves as stakeholders and your customers. Make sure that you are hyperfocused on your key stakeholders. This will help board members build conviction and trust in how you operate your business. Not Having a Clear Objective What do you want your board to accomplish after reading your deck? Do you want them to make a decision? Approve a new project? Provide feedback? Once you know your objective, you can structure your deck accordingly. Overloading the Deck With Information Your board deck should be concise and to the point. Avoid including too much information, as this can overwhelm your board and make it difficult for them to focus on the most important points. Too much information can also lead to questions and concerns about unrelated points/problems that you are trying to solve. Using Too Much Industry Jargon or Technical Language While your board should be familiar with your business, they are likely helping many other companies. To make sure everyone is on the same page, make sure to avoid technical language — it may seem obvious to see but is not always the case for someone not involved in the day-to-day. Start Your Funding Journey With Visible Running a successful board meeting can be a high-leverage activity for your startup. The easiest thing you can do is come prepared and ready to have a strategic conversation with the people who matter most to your business. Let us help prepare for your next board meeting or fundraising event. Raise capital, update investors and engage your team from a single platform. Try Visible free for 14 days.
founders
Reporting
Navigating Investor Feedback: A Guide to Constructive Responses
There are not many people who have been in the role of a startup founder. For many startup founders, this means taking on new roles and responsibilities that they might not have experienced before. When facing these challenges, it helps to have someone guide you along the way — this can be an investor, peer, mentor, or someone else with experience. Soliciting feedback from the investors around you is a great way to tap into their network and experience to keep moving forward. Investors typically have had experience as operators themselves or the other founders in their portfolio. Understanding the Value of Investor Feedback As Seth Godin wrote in Beware of Experience Asymmetry, “There are things you’re going to do just once… In these situations, the institutions and professionals you’re dealing with have significantly more experience than you do…In these asymmetric situations, it’s unlikely that you’re going to outsmart the experienced folks who have seen it all before. It’s unlikely that you’ll outlast them either. When you have to walk into one of these events, it pays to hire a local guide. Someone who knows as much as the other folks do, but who works for you instead.” Many of the roles you face as a founder can fall into this bucket — raising capital, going through a merger or acquisition, going through legal counsel, etc. When facing these new roles and challenges, it often helps to find someone around you who does have experience. If you have investors, this can typically be a great place to start. Many investors have experience as operators but if they don’t, they typically have a large network of founders and other investors. This means that they’ve likely seen the challenges you’re facing, directly or not, before. Why Does Investor Feedback Matter? As we mentioned above, investors typically have experiences and a network that will lend useful feedback when it comes to fundraising, hiring, company strategy, etc. Related Resource: How to Build Trust Through Investor Feedback Investor feedback can be particularly important when it comes to raising venture capital. At the end of the day, you are pitching investors so welcoming feedback can be a great way to tweak your pitch for future investors. However, just because an investor offers feedback does not mean it is right for your business. Remember that you know more about your business than any investor so be critical about what feedback you put to use. Core Principles for Constructive Responses As we mentioned above, not all feedback will be relevant to your business. However, welcoming a conversation and hearing out their point is a great way to strengthen your investor relationships. Check out a few key principles for constructive responses to investor feedback below: Active listening If you are going to solicit feedback from an investor it is important to be respectful and actively listen. This includes hearing out what they have to say, even if you do not agree, and asking follow-up questions as you see fit. Reflecting and analyzing Just because an investor offers feedback does not mean you need to take it. At the end of the day, you know your business the best. It is important to reflect and analyze the feedback you receive. Seeking clarification Instead of assuming feedback means one thing it is important to seek clarification if there is any confusion. This will not only help you get to the bottom of their suggestion but will demonstrate to them that you are taking their feedback and time seriously. Collaborative problem solving If you are seeking feedback from an investor it should be someone you trust and value. By them offering feedback it is an open door to further the conversation and collaborate on the problem you are solving. This can not only lead to a better outcome but a strengthened relationship for future conversations. 5 Strategic Ways to Collect Investor Feedback Write a transition paragraph that introduces the next section. Feel free to add/remove/adjust the below techniques for gathering feedback 1. One-on-one meetings One-on-one meetings are likely reserved for investors with whom you have existing relationships. This means that they likely have some familiarity with your business and will be able to offer sound feedback. Advantages No bias from other investors or people in a meeting. Make specific asks based on their own skillset/experience. More personal and genuine feedback. Related Resource: The Complete Guide to Investor Reporting and Updates 2. Pitching and Events Pitching inventors or attending events can be a great way to get feedback from investors who are outside of your network. While they might be new to your business they can offer valuable feedback on how outsiders view your business and your pitch. This will allow you to tweak and improve your communication for future pitches. Advantages Receive feedback based on your pitch and presentation. Pitch feedback will help you improve your pitch for future meetings. Investors you are pitching are likely new to you and can offer a new perspective. 3. Investor Updates Regular investor updates are a great way to get into a rhythm of regularly asking your network of investors for feedback. This will not only allow you to solicit feedback but will help you strengthen relationships and become top of mind with your current and friendly investors. Advantages You can be targeted in asking for what areas you are asking for feedback. Anyone receiving your investor updates is likely invested in the success of your business and will offer honest feedback. You can stay top of mind with investors by asking for honest feedback. Related Resource: How To Write the Perfect Investor Update (Tips and Templates) 4. Board Meetings Board meetings are an important tool for startup founders. This is your chance to dig into several problems your business is facing and dig into them with your most trusted partners. Board members should know your business well and should offer pointed feedback that is worth hearing out. Advantages Board members are the most invested in the success of your business and will offer feedback that is best for the business. Board members know your business well and can offer feedback on factors specific to your business. You can set the agenda and lead the conversation and areas you need feedback at a board meeting. 5. Email & Phone Communication Email or phone communication is a great way to get real-time feedback and suggestions. This is typically less formal and allows investors to share honest and raw feedback that will lead to further conversation and collaboration. Advantages Someone you are willing to email/call is likely someone you trust/have a good relationship with. You can receive honest and real-time feedback when working with someone directly. This leads to easier conversation and digging deeper into the problem you are facing. Find Out How Visible Can Help You Connect With the Right Investors Visible is your hub to improve investor relationships. From sending investor updates to sharing a pitch deck to monitoring ongoing investor conversations — we’ve got you covered. Get started with Visible and give it a free try for 14 days here.
investors
Reporting
Product Updates
Product Update: Analyze Your Portfolio Data with Segment Metrics
Visible recently released Segment Metrics, a premium portfolio insights tool for VCs. The solution empowers investors to answer key questions about their portfolio performance in seconds instead of hours. How investors can unlock portfolio insights faster with Segment Metrics With Segment Metrics investors can find insights related to the sum, average, minimum, and maximum for any custom segment of their portfolio metric data and investment values. Example Segment Insights Examples of insights that can be uncovered with Segment Metrics include: The amount invested in female founders vs non-female founders The breakdown of investments based on sector, geography, and stage A comparison of revenue across seed-stage investments Investors can keep track of these insights by embedding the data visualizations on flexible, shareable dashboards in Visible as shown in the example below. Learn more about setting up Segment metrics in our Knowledge Base. Learn More About Visible Visible has a suite of tools to help with portfolio data analysis including Robust, flexible dashboards that can be used for Internal Portfolio Review meetings Portfolio metric dashboards to help with cross-portfolio insights Learn more about how 400+ Venture Capital investors use Visible to streamline their portfolio monitoring and reporting.
investors
Reporting
Senate Bill 54: What it is and How it Will Affect Your VC Firm
On October 8, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 54. This law mandates that venture capital firms report the diversity of the founding teams in their portfolio to California’s Department of Civil Rights (DCR) annually. Why is Senate Bill 54 important? This law is the first piece of U.S. legislation aimed at increasing diversity within the venture capital industry which historically has allocated only 5% of capital to startups led by women, Black founders, or Latinx founders in any given year (source). When does Senate Bill 54 go into effect? The first report is due March 1, 2025. This means firms will be required to report accurate diversity data on investments they made during the 2024 calendar year by the start of March. Firms who do not comply may face a penalty as decided by the courts. Combine your firm’s diversity and portfolio KPI reporting processes with Visible. Which VC firms does Senate Bill 54 apply to? Senate Bill 54 applies to any VC that: Is headquartered in California. Has a significant presence or operational office in California. Makes venture capital investments in businesses that are located, or have significant operations, in California. Solicits or receives investments from a person who is a resident of California. Related Resource: California Adopts New Law Requiring VC Companies to Collect Diversity Data From Portfolio Company Founders What diversity information will be required? VC firms will be required to ask portfolio company founding teams to report their race, ethnicity, disabilty status, and sexual orientation. (Read the full requirements outlined in Senate Bill 54) Firms are required to make founders aware that this information is voluntary and founding teams will not be penalized for not reporting this formation. The information must also be collected in an anonymous fashion so that responses cannot be traced back to a founding team member. This information will be aggregated and reported to California’s Civil Rights Department (CDR) on an annual basis. Related Resource: 5 Actionable Steps to Improve Diversity at Your VC Fund Getting a head start on portfolio diversity reporting It’s important to make sure your firm has the internal capabilities to collect the required information from your portfolio companies before Senate Bill 54 goes into effect. Visible’s Request feature streamlines the way investors collect custom KPI’s and diversity information from their portfolio companies. View an example diversity monitoring Request below.
founders
Product Updates
Reporting
AI Meets Your Investor Updates
Did you know that 60% of investors don't hear from their portfolio companies on a regular basis? This means that the startups sending regular communications to their investors stand out the most. In fact, startups that provide regular investor updates are 3x more likely to receive follow-on funding. Making the time to write a compelling investor update regularly can be challenging. This is where Visible AI comes in. What is Visible AI Visible AI automatically turns the Request responses that portfolio companies submit to Visible into a narrative Update that startups can use to share with other investors and stakeholders. This equips founders to send regular, professional communications to all their greatest supporters (and sources of follow-on capital), with ease. Learn more about Visible AI and how you can leverage it with your Visible account below. How it Works Visible AI is available to founders who are completing Visible data Requests from their investors. Using the metrics and qualitative answers from a data Request, Visible AI adds context and builds charts to turn the information into a Visible Update that can be shared with other investors and stakeholders. Visible AI Update Example Using the qualitative answers and data included in your Request, we’ll help you turn the response into an Update using the following logic: “{Company Name} Investor Update” — For example, “Acme Co Investor Update” In order to create the content of the update we built a prompt for OpenAI that contains questions and answers from the request. We will create charts and tables for any metrics using the following logic: If a metrics question contains >3 metrics we will create a single table with all these metrics within the update Otherwise, we create bar charts for each metric in the question. Note: if a metric only has a single data point we will create a number chart instead. As always, we recommend reviewing your Update and making sure all of the content is correct and fits your voice. You can check out the full example of the Update here. Visible AI Takeaways Providing investor updates regularly increases your likelihood of success and your ability to fundraise Visible AI transforms your Requests responses into a professional narrative update that you can share with all your stakeholders The Future of Visible AI This is our first introduction of AI into the Visible platform. In the months ahead we plan on exploring AI models to help with fundraising email copy, identifying potential investors for your business, and more. We are always looking for feedback. Feel free to share your AI-related ideas to support at visible dot vc.
founders
Reporting
Using AI Prompts to Write Your Next Investor Update
Sending investor updates is a surefire way to tap into your current (or potential) investors' knowledge, capital, and experience. Investor updates keep your company top of mind and improve your odds of getting help with fundraising, hiring, strategy, and other issues that arise as a founder. However, sitting down and writing an update can be challenging for many founders. By leveraging AI, you can get over the cold start problem and get a head start on your next update with just a few data points. Integrating ChatGPT can further enhance the reporting process by adding depth, analysis, and narrative context to the raw metrics. Here’s how founders can do it. Related Resource: AI Meets Your Investor Updates Data Preparation Begin by exporting the key metrics and data points you want to share from Visible. This could include charts, graphs, or tables related to sales, customer growth, churn rate, financials, etc. Ensure your data is well-organized and accurate so you can share the results with your generative AI model of choice. Have specific numbers on hand for quick reference, such as revenue growth, churn rates, user acquisition costs, etc. Prompt Tips Review & Personalize Take the insights and analysis from ChatGPT and integrate them into your investor update. Adjust the language or depth of analysis to match the preferences and knowledge levels of your investors. Incorporate Visuals Visible already offers compelling visual data representation. Ensure that the written context provided by ChatGPT complements these visuals. For instance, a chart showing revenue growth coupled with a ChatGPT-derived narrative can provide a comprehensive view of financial health. Fact-Check & Verify Always double-check AI-generated content for accuracy. Ensure that the insights and interpretations align with your understanding and are factually consistent with the data from Visible. Feedback Loop After sending out the investor update, gather feedback. This will help you adjust the depth, tone, and content for future communications. By integrating ChatGPT's narrative capabilities with Visible's data representation, founders can create rich, insightful, and highly contextual investor updates that not only inform but also engage stakeholders in meaningful ways. Benefits of Using ChatGPT for Investor Updates Utilizing ChatGPT or other advanced AI language models can significantly enhance the process of crafting investor updates in several ways: Data Interpretation Insightful Analysis: AI can quickly process and analyze large datasets, highlighting important trends, anomalies, and patterns that might be missed with manual analysis. Contextual Comparison: By comparing your metrics with known industry benchmarks or historical data, AI can provide contextual insights into the company's performance. Narrative Creation Cohesive Storytelling: ChatGPT can help craft a narrative around raw data, turning numbers into a compelling story that communicates the company's journey, challenges, and triumphs. Consistent Tone: AI ensures that the tone of the update remains consistent throughout, whether it's formal, friendly, or somewhere in between. Time Efficiency Quick Turnaround: Drafting updates can be time-consuming. ChatGPT can rapidly generate well-structured drafts based on provided data, which founders can then review and adjust as necessary. Multi-version Generation: AI can generate multiple versions of an update, tailored to different investor personalities or preferences. Content Suggestions Comprehensive Reporting: AI can suggest relevant content to include, ensuring that critical aspects are not overlooked. This might include operational updates, financial highlights, or market trends. Personalized Updates: ChatGPT can generate updates tailored to specific investor groups or individual stakeholders based on their interests or investment focuses. Error Reduction Grammar & Syntax: ChatGPT ensures that the language used is grammatically correct and professionally composed. Fact-Checking: While AI isn't a replacement for manual fact-checking, it can help identify inconsistencies or potential errors in data presentation. Feedback Analysis Interpret Responses: If founders receive feedback or questions from investors, ChatGPT can help interpret and suggest appropriate responses or clarifications. Iterative Improvement: By analyzing feedback over time, the AI can refine the style and content of updates to better meet investor expectations. Scalability Handling Volume: For founders managing multiple ventures or reporting to a large number of stakeholders, ChatGPT can scale the update creation process without sacrificing quality. Template Generation Standardized Reporting: ChatGPT can help create templates for regular updates, ensuring consistent reporting structures while still allowing for customization based on the period's specifics. While ChatGPT and similar AI models offer numerous advantages in crafting investor updates, it's crucial for founders to remain actively involved in the process. The authenticity of the founder's voice, combined with the analytical power of AI, can create powerful and impactful communications. Prompts for Crafting an Investor Update with ChatGPT There are a few ways to approach ChatGPT as a source to help with your investor updates. Individual Section Prompts On one hand, you can enter each individual update section into ChatGPT and use a prompt for each section. For example, let’s say you have the following highlights from the last month: Hired 2 new sales reps — Brett & Amanda Grew 50% quarter over quarter to hit $1M in ARR Launched Big Product X You can enter the above into a prompt like this example "Briefly recap our company's highlights..." and carry on with this approach for each individual section of your update. Check out the most common content sections in Visible Updates below: One Prompt On the other hand, you can take any individual data points, qualitative or quantitative, from the previous period and enter them into ChatGPT with a prompt like the following: "Turn the following into an investor update with additional context around the month-over-month KPI data and an intro of 40 words or less [Copied in Update Contents]" Before ChatGPT Using the prompt above, we took the follow update points and turned it into an Update Highlights Hired 2 new sales reps — Brett & Amanda Grew 50% quarter over quarter to hit $1M in ARR Launched Big Product X Lowlights Blake, our lead developer, has quit KPIs Product Launches Big Product X has been a success. We have signed up 1,000 users in the first week and $10,000 in revenue Asks We are looking for users for Big Product X. Ideally they are a marketing professional with a team of 5 or more Looking for a lead developer that is based in Chicago with 8+ years experience Fundraising Efforts We are kicking off our seed round. Need intros to SaaS, Seed stage investors in midwest. Thank Yous Thanks to Kelley from Venture Fund X for making introductions to Big Company Y, our biggest customer yet. After ChatGPT In October, our journey marked significant achievements amid a few challenges. Let's delve into the details: Highlights Team Expansion: Welcomed Brett & Amanda to our sales team, enhancing our capabilities. Impressive Growth: Achieved a 50% QoQ growth, hitting $1 million in Annual Recurring Revenue. Product Success: The launch of Big Product X was a triumph, securing 1,000 users and $10,000 in revenue within a week. Lowlights Talent Loss: Unfortunately, our lead developer, Blake, departed. KPIs - A Closer Look September 2023: Revenue: $100,000 Cash Balance: $1,000,000 Gross Profit: -$10,000 Headcount: 12 October 2023: Revenue: $150,000 Cash Balance: $1,100,000 Gross Profit: $100,000 Headcount: 14 Asks User Acquisition: Seeking users for Big Product X, particularly marketing professionals with a team of 5 or more. Talent Search: In pursuit of a lead developer based in Chicago with 8+ years of experience. Fundraising Efforts We are launching our seed round and would greatly appreciate introductions to SaaS and seed-stage investors in the Midwest. Thank Yous Our heartfelt thanks to Kelley from Venture Fund X for the introductions that led to Big Company Y becoming our largest customer to date. Your continued support is invaluable, and we look forward to sharing more accomplishments in the months ahead. Sincerely, [Your Name] [Your Title] [Your Contact Information] Learn More About Visible Updates With Visible you can find investors, send monthly Updates, share your pitch deck, and manage relationships with our CRM. Give Visible a free try for 14 days here.
investors
Reporting
Operations
[Webinar Recording] How to prepare for your 2023 fund audit
The volatility of the markets and decline in deal activity makes private valuation adjustments especially challenging this year. Yet even under these circumstances LP’s expect portfolio valuations to be accurate and justifiable. As a VC, you should be prepared for auditors to be even more involved during this year’s audit process as they ensure valuations are as close to reality as possible. Webinar Overview Belle Raab from Visible and Danielle Darley from Weaver discussed how to best prepare for your end-of-year audit. Discussion topics: What, why, who behind the audit process What to anticipate for this year's audit Preparing for the audit process Establishing an audit timeline Recommended do's & don'ts Related Resources: A Simple Breakdown of the VC Audit Process Venture Capital Valuations: Tips for Preparing Valuations for Your Annual Audit Five Simple Steps Key Venture Capital Staff Can Take to Support a Successful Audit Establishing a Valuation Policy
founders
Reporting
How to Build a Strong Investor Relations Strategy
Raise capital, update investors and engage your team from a single platform. Try Visible free for 14 days. Startup founders are responsible for many duties. — from hiring top talent, building and selling a product, fundraising, communicating with stakeholders, and everything in between. Founders often get pulled in many directions so overlooking certain roles or duties can be easy. When done right, an investor relations strategy can take up little time every month and pay off with added help with hiring, fundraising, strategy, and more. Related Resource: Investor Relationship Management 101 Learn how to get started with an investor relations strategy below: What is an investor relations strategy? As put by the team at Investopedia, “The investor relations (IR) department is a division of a business whose job it is to provide investors with an accurate account of company affairs.” Investor relations are typically associated with publicly traded companies to help investors make a decision to invest in a company. As you’ll notice in the definition above, they use a “division or department” whereas at a startup this is typically a department of 1 — the founder or CEO. However, an investor relations strategy can be a lever for success for startups and privately held companies. An investor relations strategy will help founders tap into their current investors’ capital, time, network, and experience to help scale their business. Challenges in investor relations Building relationships with investors is easier said than done. Building a startup is full of ups and downs so approaching the individuals and firms that are invested in your business can be intimidating. Like all things related to building a business, there are some challenges when it comes to investor relations: Sticking to a schedule Sharing bad news Finding the right information and data to share Learn more about overcoming these challenges in our post, The Complete Guide to Investor Reporting and Updates. Why an investor relations strategy is crucial for startups As we previously mentioned, keeping up with all of the roles and responsibilities can be difficult. Having an investor relations strategy is a good way to tap into your existing stakeholders to unlock help when it comes to hiring, fundraising, strategy, and more. Builds trust and credibility First things first, investors need to trust you and your business so you can lean into them for help with your business. Investors are a well-networked community so word will get around quickly how you communicate with investors. Something as quick as a monthly update to existing investors, will put you ahead of the majority of startup founders and help you stand out from the pack. Attracts and retains investors As put by Laurel Hess, the Founder of Hampr, “Taking the time to review your business with your stakeholders is actually a really great opportunity for growth – if you view it that way, there is a ton of potential to unlock. I have gained the following from my regular updates: Intros to potential investors Additional capital for a round I’m working on Intros to new verticals for expansion Advice on strategy for a problem we are working on Intros to new mentors/advisors to unlock the next phase of growth All this for just 1 hour of my time each month? That is the definition of “no brainer.” This 1 hour of monthly work can pay dividends when it helps to raise a new round of capital from existing investors or asking for introductions to potential investors down the road. Helps with hiring, fundraising, and strategy Startup investors are likely investors in 10s or 100s of other businesses and have a professional background of their own. Because of this, they are typically well-networked in the “startup world” and are able to help when it comes to hiring, fundraising, company strategy, and more. In order to tap into their network, they need to trust you and be willing to put their reputation with their network on the line. As put by Elizabeth Yin of Hustle Fund, “If you don’t write regular updates, your investors won’t want to help you. It’s hard to help a company and put your own social capital on the line with your network when you have no idea what is happening in your own portfolio company.” Essential components of an investor relations strategy An investor relations strategy will look different for every business. However, there are a few key components that most founders will benefit from including in their investor relations strategy. Communication plan Communication is at the core of any relationship. By sticking to a regular communication plan you’ll be able to strengthen relationships and build trust. For many early-stage founders a communication plan might look something like: Regular monthly updates at the start of the month Quarterly board meetings (in person or over Zoom) One-off communication and phone calls as needed Your mission, story, and vision Investors need to buy into your company’s mission, vision, story, and values. This is typically done during the fundraising process but it is important to continually hit on your mission and vision. Financial reporting and disclosures Of course, investors need to know how your business is performing. At the end of the day, if investors are not aware of your financial position and core metrics, they will not be able to help where needed. Check out the most common metrics that VCs expect from their portfolio companies below (read more here): Investor relationship management As we previously mentioned, investor relationship management will look different depending on the founder or investor. However, when it comes to communicating and sharing information it typically helps to include some or all of the following: Wins and mosses Key metrics Make specific asks Stay consistent Respond promptly Learn more about the importance of investor relationship management in our blog, Investor Relationship Management 101: How to Manage Your Startups Interactions with Investors. Crisis management and contingency planning A core part of an investor relations strategy is crisis management and contingency planning. For many startups, this will come to life during board meetings. However, having a plan for how to deal with a crisis is important. For some founders, this could be a one-off phone call to board members or the most engaged investors. It could come in the form of email, in-person meeting, etc. At the end of the day, having a plan in place for when emergencies hit is important. Investor feedback and engagement For an investor relations strategy to truly work, your investor needs to be engaged. An investor relationship requires work from both the founder and the investor. Sticking to a plan and regular communication schedule will lend its way to investors engaging and offering feedback. Being pointed about where you need help and how you can help investors is a great way to spur engagement. Another pro tip is to publicly call out the investors who are going above and beyond to help your business – this will help gamify your investor relations and encourage other investors to speak up. Related Resource: Investor Outreach Strategy: 9 Step Guide Maximize your investor relations strategy with Visible Visible is the home of investor relations for thousands of startup founders. Use our Updates tool to reguarly share your key qualitative and quantitative data with investors. Build relationships with potential investors using our pitch deck sharing and data room tools and ultimately keep tabs on interactions with every investor using our investor CRM. Give Visible a free try for 14 days here.
investors
Reporting
Product Updates
Q3 Product Webinar – Streamlining end of year reporting with Visible
Check out Visible’s recorded product webinar to learn about the most recent updates to Visible’s portfolio monitoring and reporting platform. The Visible team demonstrates how to leverage recent product changes to improve your portfolio reporting in Q4 and beyond. Product webinar topics: Common use cases for one-time Requests and how to set them up Saving time by syncing company qualitative responses to Dashboards and One-Pagers Exporting data to Google Sheets for external analysis and reporting Embedding a dashboard in Notion to share with your team Q&A
investors
Reporting
Operations
An Essential Guide on VC Fund Administration
What is fund administration? Fund administration is a third-party service that handles the accounting, cash-flow movement, and LP reporting for Venture Capital funds. Hustle Fund argues that fund admins are the most important part of a VC’s back-office operations. Key fundamentals of funds administration in Venture Capital Fund Admins play an essential role in ensuring critical fund operations run smoothly and also can help VC firms maintain credibility with Limited Partners (LPs). Below we outline the key fundamentals of Fund Administration. Cash flow management and capital allocation Fund administrators are responsible for wiring money directly to founders. The main reason fund administrators handle this process and not the GP is to protect against fraud and ensure accuracy. Fund administrators also handle the capital transactions between LPs and the fund. This includes managing the call-down process, determining how much to request from each LP, and sending letters to each LP with wire instructions. After an exit event, the fund administrators are also responsible for figuring out how much to distribute back to each LP. That’s a lot of separate transactions to manage which is why this can be an extremely time-consuming process. It’s also a high-stakes process with no room for mistakes. An error in the numbers can even result in a lawsuit based on gross incompetence. Limited Partner management Since Fund Administrators are responsible for sending communications related to capital transactions and reporting to Limited Partners, it’s critical that fund administrators keep an up-to-date list of Limited Partner contact information. The fund should share updated contact information with fund administrators as changes occur. Reporting Fund administration also handles the formal LP reporting process as outlined in a fund’s Limited Partnership Agreement. This typically includes putting together quarterly reports of each company’s latest valuation on a quarterly basis but the reporting requirements can vary from fund to fund based on LP requirements. To put together this reporting, fund administrators will source the latest investment information from the VC fund which is why it’s important for firms to keep investment data and fair market value changes up to date and accessible. Preparing these quarterly reports helps streamline the annual audit at the end of the year. Visible provides investors with an easy way to maintain accurate investment records that can easily be shared with fund administrators and auditors. Compliance assistance An important role of a fund administrator is making sure funds are maintaining compliance with the terms outlined in their Limited Partnership Agreement (LPA). This can include terms related to the timing of distributions, what can be considered a fund expense, and the deadlines for reporting. Audit and tax A fund administrator will work closely with other fund service providers such as auditors and tax-related providers to ensure the fund is performing in accordance with regulations. Related resource –> Venture Capital Audit Process: What it is and how Visible can help Modern technology and software solutions There are a variety of fund administrators dedicated to serving the VC industry. As discussed, VC fund administrators play a key role in VC firm operations so it’s worth taking the time to select the provider that is going to be the best fit for your firm. A great way to start is by asking your community for referrals. From there, it’s wise to interview the administrators and actually speak with the representative who will be assigned to work with your fund. Fund administrators differentiate themselves by variables such as the level of sophistication of their tech stack, whether they offer an LP portal, and also by the quality of the service they provide. It’s important to note that the quality of service can be dependent on the representative you work with at the organization. This is why it’s a great idea to meet with the rep in advance of signing a contract. The benefits of working with fund administrators Working with the right fund administrator can mean fewer headaches and more time to spend finding and supporting the best investment opportunities. Below we outline the top benefits of working with fund administrators regardless of your fund structure. Saves your firm time and resources Working with a fund administrator instead of trying to manage accounting in-house can save a firm time and money. This is because fund administrators are laser-focused on all the back-office functions and can be less costly than adding a full-time finance expert to your team. Provides expertise and experience A great fund administrator can provide funds with expertise based on working with dozens or even hundreds of VC firms. This can save less experienced GPs from costly accounting, legal, or capital transaction mistakes. Assists with investor relations management A fund administrator should provide timely and accurate communication to LPs. When fund administrators are executing well it should make the lives of the LPs easier which reflects positively on the fund. Provides compliance and regulatory support Since fund administrators have worked with hundreds and potentially even thousands of VC funds of varying stages, they’ve been exposed to many of the edge cases that could cause an inexperienced fund to make costly mistakes that could hurt their reputation. Fund administrators are well-versed in Venture Capital regulation and compliance which means GPs can leverage their fund administrators’ expertise when questions arise. When is the optimal time to start working with a fund administrator While not always required, it’s a good idea to start working with a fund administrator before even closing your first fund. This ensures your back office operations are set up for success right from the beginning. Many fund administrators have special pricing for emerging fund managers that makes it more affordable to get started. Looking to improve your portfolio monitoring processes at your fund? Visible streamlines the way you keep your companies’ financial KPI’s and investment data up to date and organized so sharing key information with service providers like your fund admin becomes even easier.
investors
Reporting
Operations
A Simple Breakdown of the VC Audit Process
VC Audit Definition Before we address best practices it's important to define what the VC audit entails. A VC audit is when a Venture Capital firm enlists a third-party auditor to evaluate its financial compliance. The auditor will review key fund documentation alongside recent portfolio performance to ensure the firm's valuations are accurate. Which VC Firms Require an Audit On August 23, 2023 the SEC approved new rules for private fund advisers. The changes will require all SEC-registered private fund advisers to have an annual audit regardless of size. Prior to this change, some funds were considered exempt but it was still common for VCs to conduct an audit to help better position the firm for future fundraising from potential LPs who want to see audited financials. Purpose of an Audit The purpose of a VC audit can be summarized in three parts: Ensure the fund’s General Partner(s) are operating in accordance with the fund’s LPA and that the financials reflect compliance Confirm the fund’s valuations of portfolio companies and the fund’s ownership position in them Give LPs confidence that a neutral third party validates the fund’s financial statements and assessment of its own success General VC Audit Timeline Audits are typically conducted on an annual basis using end-of-year figures. The audit process typically starts in the final month of the calendar year and wraps up during the first quarter of the calendar year. Although audits only happen once per year, it’s important to maintain clean records of things like company valuations, company financial metrics, fund expenses, capital calls, and other transactions throughout the year. Continual hygiene of fund records translates into a smoother audit process at the end of the year. Here's a general timeline for the VC audit process: Q1 - Q4 - Collect portfolio company KPI's and monitor valuation changes Q4 - Establish audit timeline with fund admin and auditor. Additionally, the pre-audit process should kick off so auditors have a chance to understand a firm's operations. Q1 - In January, firms should be doing year-end valuations and closing their books. During this month fund managers should also be reviewing the books before sending the final figures to an auditor. During January or February, the audit process officially begins. Q2 - April 30 is the official audit deadline but extensions to the deadline can be requested. For more audit best practices check this webinar co-hosted with Visible and Weaver -- How to Prepare for Your 2023 Fund Audit. How to Prepare for a VC Audit Choosing an Audit Firm This is an important step in setting yourself up for audit success. When choosing an auditor it's important to choose a service provider who specializes and understands the nuances of Venture Capital. Otherwise, you risk spending time during the audit process having to teach your auditor about your industry. You can do this by checking out their website and if they have published resources on Venture Capital then this is a great indication that they have knowledge of your industry. You should also ask the team you'll be directly working with whether they have experience in the VC industry. If you're an emerging manager and expect to need hand-holding during the audit process, make sure you choose an auditor who is open for ad-hoc questions. During the diligence process, you should ask the auditor about their policy for asking questions and if there is an additional charge. Related Resource: Five Simple Steps Key Venture Capital Staff Can Take to Support a Successful Audit Establishing a Valuation Policy It's a great idea to establish a valuation policy before your first audit. This policy outlines how your firm will justify its portfolio company valuations under different circumstances. Related resource: Establishing a Valuation Policy Preparing the Required Documents and Information While not a comprehensive list, here are some of the items that funds will likely be asked to provide to auditors: Limited Partnership Agreement Financial statements Fully signed deal documentation Invoices to prove the firm is charging LPs for permitted expenses Transaction records (capital calls, distributions, bank balances) Updated ownership positions in each company (cap tables) Proof of valuation calculations/policies Portfolio company contacts (name and email address) Portfolio company financials (year-end) Portfolio company financing documents from most recent rounds Portfolio company balance sheets Portfolio company revenue reports An established valuation policy Pro Tip: Ensure you are sending your auditor the fully executed (signed) version of the documents. Doing this will help cut down time during the audit process and help firms save money. Hustle Fund reminds investors in this article Fund Audit 101 – Everything You Need To Know that it’s the job of the VC to provide this information to auditors and that the required documentation can change from year to year. It can be helpful to ask your auditor to provide quarterly updates about what they will be asking for during the annual audit. Related Resource: 8 Questions to Ask Before Auditing Your First Venture Capital Fund Monitoring Portfolio Companies Using Visible One of the most time-consuming parts of the audit process is the back and forth that can occur when auditors need more evidence on how the VC firm arrived at company valuation figures. To justify valuations, it's important to have key information from your portfolio companies at the ready. Check out the list below to see what you need to have on file. Portfolio monitoring audit checklist: Revenue budget vs actual Cash on hand Burn rate Company performance vs business plan Details about the last round of financing Visible equips investors with a founder-friendly way to ask for key audit information from portfolio companies. Visible's Request feature allows for any custom metric, qualitative question, files, properties, and more. This streamlined approach to data collection helps VC firms keep up-to-date and accurate records about their portfolio companies throughout the year — leading to a smoother audit process. Check out an Example Request in Visible. More than 400+ VCs use Visible to streamline their portfolio monitoring and reporting.
founders
Reporting
The Most Common Update Content Blocks
Best-in-class founders use investor updates to help with hiring, fundraising, strategy, and more. To help understand what is included in their Updates, we took a look at our own data. The Most Common Content Blocks We recently launched Content Blocks for Updates. Content Blocks allow you to pick different text sections to build out an investor update template. The following have been the most commonly used Content Blocks: 81% of Updates include “Highlights” 47% of Updates include a “Team” section 42% of Updates include “Product Launches” 42% of Updates include a “KPIs” section 39% of Updates include a “Fundraising” section At the end of the day, sending investor updates on a regular basis is what matters most. Every business is different so be sure to use the content and data that is most relevant to your business. Send an Update with Visible Start crafting your investor update using content blocks below: Send an Update
investors
Metrics and data
Reporting
Streamlining Portfolio Data Collection and Analysis Across the VC Firm
Many Venture Capital firms struggle to efficiently collect updates from their portfolio companies and turn the data into meaningful insights for their firm and Limited Partners. It’s usually a painful process consisting of messy Google Sheets or Excel file templates being sent to companies. Then, someone at the VC firm is responsible for the painful task of tracking down companies and convincing them to send the metric template back to the investor. The end result is typically an unreliable master sheet that isn’t accessible or easy to digest for the rest of the firm. Visible has helped over 350+ VC firms streamline the way they collect, analyze, and report on their portfolio and fund performance. Keep reading to learn how. Streamlining Portfolio Data Collection To set up a more efficient portfolio data collection process at your firm make sure you: Don't require companies to manage another login Visible’s data Requests are delivered directly to your companies’ email inboxes and the secure-linked base form ensures there is no friction in the data-sharing process. Maintain founder privacy Visible supports over 3.5k founders on our platform and the consistent feedback we hear is founders do not want their investors to have direct access to their data sources. Founders prefer to have control over what and when their data is shared with investors. Customize which information you request from companies Visible allows investors to create any custom metric, qualitative question, yes/no response, multiple choice, and more. This provides investors with the flexibility to use Visible for more than just financial reporting but also impact or diversity reporting and end-of-year audit preparation. Related resource: Portfolio Monitoring Tips for Venture Capital Investors Related resource: Which Metrics Should I Collect from My Portfolio Companies Easy Ways to Analyze VC Portfolio Data While having up-to-date, accurate investment data is important, being able to extract and communicate insights about your portfolio data is when it really becomes valuable. Visible supports three different types of dashboards to help you analyze your portfolio data more easily. Flexible portfolio company dashboards — Visualize KPI’s by choosing from 9 different chart types and combine with rich text and company properties. These dashboards are a great fit to help facilitate more robust internal portfolio review meetings. Portfolio metric dashboards — This dashboard allows you to compare performance across your entire portfolio and easily identify your top performers and the companies who may need additional support. Fund analytics dashboards — This flexible dashboard lets investors control how they want to visualize and analyze their fund performance metrics. Choose from over 30+ fund metrics and auto calculated insights and easily add them to your shareable dashboard. View an example of all three types of dashboards by downloading the resource below. Sharing Portfolio Updates with Limited Partners It’s important to remember that while Limited Partners are primarily focused on financial returns they also care about insights. VC firms who empower their Limited Partners with updates about sector trends and high-level insight into portfolio company performance are setting themselves up to be both trusted and valuable long-term partners to their investors. LP Update Template Library — Visible makes it easy for firms to make engaging communication with Limited Partners a habit by providing free and open-source Update templates. Want to feature your LP Update template in out library? Get in touch! Tear Sheets — Tear Sheets or One Pagers can be a great way to provide high-level updates about portfolio companies to your LPs. Visible’s tear sheet template solution helps VC firms create reporting with ease by merging information and data into beautiful charts that are automatically kept up to date. View Tear Sheet examples to inspire your next reporting. Related resource: Tear Sheets 101 (and how to build one in Visible) Visible supports 400+ funds around the world streamline the portfolio data collection, analysis, and reporting process.
investors
Customer Stories
Reporting
[Webinar Recording] Leveraging portfolio analysis to improve your fund’s IRR
A recent poll of VCs shows that some of the primary reasons investors collect financial data from portfolio companies is to improve their post-investment support (66%) and inform future investment decisions (44%). To do this well, investors need to be able to analyze their portfolio company data through an advanced financial lens so they can extract actionable insights that lead to improved fund performance. We recently sat down for a conversation on Leveraging Portfolio Analysis to Improve your Fund’s IRR with Kristian Marquez, CFA. Kristian is the CEO of FinStrat Management and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder since 2004. The webinar was designed for people working in Venture Capital who want to level up the way they understand and analyze their portfolio companies’ financial performance data. Topics Discussed: The WHY behind surfacing portfolio insights Where to find benchmark data and how to use it Top 4 performance indicators, what they mean, and how to calculate them Using dashboards in Visible to evaluate portfolio company performance Tips for moving from analysis to action
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