Often we’re asked how we support portfolio companies and what our approach to portfolio management is. The phrase portfolio management always feels a little strange as it implies we’re managing companies. We want to enable them, power them and give them whatever they need to flourish. But not manage them.
We invest in great teams that have the capacity to change the world or make a significant impact on the world through their product. But we understand that even the best entrepreneurs need constant dialogue as questions arise. They want to know how to respond to the world.
Our goal is to be part of that dialogue as often as required to help shape the execution and the vision founders have. As a team of former founders and operators, we feel we can add a lot of value in this area. For example if you’re building out your management team we’ve done this many times and have a network full of top tier operators.
At ADV we don’t believe the board of directors is the right place to do that. We think its primary purpose is for governance. Obviously we recognise this is a very different approach to other investors and we’re by no means saying all should follow this approach.
Governance is still hugely important and can make or break a company, but it’s not the only value we can add as investors. Mark Suster’s blog provides some great guidance on the difference between management, boards and governance.
On an ongoing basis we seek to engage with founding teams where brainstorming is free and governance is not discussed.
That said, we obviously have a responsibility to our investors to report on progress and how each investment is doing. We make this light touch, determined by the plan we agree on at the point of investment.
Some key principles to our portfolio interaction:
> We can help guide your ambition. Building a future that nobody can comprehend is tough. We’re always happy to brainstorm and help refine your strategy.
> Full access to our team and network. We’ve got a global network of investors, entrepreneurs and talented operators at our fingertips. Our team has a diverse career background as serial entrepreneurs, operators, techies, policy experts and a couple of investors.
> We’ll help you reach the right investors for your journey. Our backers are large financial institutions that want to support generation-defining founders. Our partners are some of Europe’s smartest early-stage investors. If you want to reach them, we’ll help!
> We want to be a long term backer of your vision. As you go through our investment flow, you’ll hopefully notice our focus on the long term. We want to be the right partner for you and your vision. Hopefully we can be there for the long term.
We asked our portfolio companies to comment:
Dan Bladen, CEO of Chargifi: “When ADV invest, they don’t sit back, their shared conviction for the future we’re building permeates every interaction. When they’re in, they’re all in. This means the world for founders going out on a limb to change the world.”
Toby Mather, CEO of Lingumi: “ADV is one of the few investment teams who really digest the mission, then think backwards to today. Many investors look at historic numbers, then think forwards to the next fundraising. ADV, partially because of the culture and partially because of team backgrounds as operators and founders, think in terms of how to make a big vision achievable, and help shape the strategy that’ll get you there.”
Kenny Ewan, CEO Wefarm: “We’ve had a lot of great interactions with multiple members of the ADV team and always found everyone very open to making time to talk things through. I’ve also found the team extremely helpful and open to making introductions and connections, particularly during funding rounds.”
Quintus Liu, CEO Healthera: “From my experience the ADV team is great at inspiring and empowering founders. Often we are too deeply involved in the day to day operations of the business, and it’s helpful to have the ADV team remind us of our bold 10 year vision and dream.”
We’re open to feedback and would encourage founders building a relationship with ADV to speak first with our portfolio (which we’re happy to facilitate).