Altvia CEO Brie Aletto – Featured Panelist at MIW SPEAK Event

As noted on their website, the organization called Mergers & Acquisitions “has been honoring the Middle Market’s Most Influential Women for 7 years and in 2022, we’ll tap into this powerful group of executives to have them share their views on the market and professional growth advice to help provide INSPIRATION to the next generation.”

Altvia CEO Brie Aletto was honored to share her insights at an MIW SPEAK event. Brie joined Suzanne Yoon, Founder and Managing Partner, Kinzie Capital Partners, and Julia Karol, President and COO, Watermill Group, in a session titled MIW Maximizing Growth at Portfolio Companies. Withum Partner and Market Leader, Transaction Advisory Steve Brady moderated the session. 

We provide highlights of the event below.

What Does Growth Mean to You?

Julia answers this question by saying that to her firm, growth means that when they have finished working with a business in a stewardship role, they leave it “strong and thriving,” with an excellent management team in place and performing optimally.

Brie notes that top-line growth is important to the PE/VC-backed businesses that Altvia works with and that technology like Altvia solutions can be vital to driving that growth. She says that the Rule of 40 is the metric we strive for with our clients.

Suzanne shares that because her firm is involved in deals where they provide first-time institutional capital, they see growth as helping companies with established offerings develop more efficient processes. Often this involves assisting companies to implement operational technology to accelerate their growth.

What Are the Challenges and Opportunities Around the Use of Advanced Technology?

Brie tackles this question first, pointing out that growth-stage businesses must support the implementation of tech solutions all the way up to the company’s board. It’s also critical in acquisition to keep legacy employees in place so that they can transfer their knowledge to new team members. She goes on to describe some of the tools—like video capture tools for capturing and sharing meeting insights—that are crucial for businesses looking to grow and expand. Fund lifecycle management solutions like Altvia’s also help firms manage fundraising and deal pipelines and make fund managers more competitive.

Julia emphasizes that having access to necessary data is critical. She shares that companies used to focus on implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. These large, expensive solutions could damage a business if the company implemented them incorrectly. That risk has made many companies fearful of technology in general today. However, choosing the right tools and implementing them the right way reduces that risk. 

Suzanne adds that all areas of every business today use technology in some way. From communication tools to HR systems, companies should equip every department with solutions that help them operate better. She also mentions that the “old-line” businesses they often work with are increasingly transitioning to cloud-based solutions. Suzanne goes on to note that Kinzie Capital Partners uses Altvia solutions.

How Does the Ability to Attract and Retain Great Talent Affect Growth?

From Suzanne’s perspective, identification, assessment, and development are the three pillars of human capital management. She says that companies must address all three deliberately and rigorously. That includes having a strategy for staying in front of recruiters. Suzanne also mentions how costly bad hiring decisions can be and, consequently, how important human capital assessment tools are.

Julia states that one of the most important things companies can do is align incentives with the metrics or goals of the business. “If you get that right, you’re three-quarters of the way there,” she says. She also mentions that a sense of purpose is essential to today’s employees. Companies used to talk about purpose in terms of business strategy. However, now it’s vital to ensure that employees feel like they’re part of something and understand the “why” behind their work.

Brie expresses that she’s encouraged to hear Suzanne and Julie focus on the people and culture sides of businesses. She notes that one of Altvia’s top three goals for this year and an important metric we’re tracking is employee retention. Brie also agrees with Suzanne’s point about how employees view growth and development in their careers as significant factors in their loyalty to their employer. Altvia has implemented a tool to assess and align personal development goals with company goals.

In addition, she highlights the importance of the positive culture that exists when you have the right mix of energetic new employees and seasoned veterans, along with technology that takes some of the training burdens off those veterans.

View the Session and Learn More About Altvia

This interesting and informative event concludes with the panelists sharing their thoughts on marketing and sales. You can hear all that Brie and the other panelists have to say on maximizing growth at portfolio companies by viewing the recording of the session.

To learn more about Altvia’s industry-leading solutions for alternative investment firms and request a demo, visit our website.

A traditional crm was built for general ‘customer’ scenarios

Software platforms have made the world a better place by making work a better place. Indeed the world is better off when people enjoy their jobs even marginally more, and workplace applications on big CRM platforms like Salesforce.com have done that and much more.

But the potential that platforms like these offer presents diminishing returns: once the platform provider has engineered too many industry specific components into its platform, its usefulness for other industries begins to be threatened, and with that so do the usefulness of the component tools built into the platform.

So it is with the CRM category that Salesforce.com has defined: it is generic enough to work for many industries, and yet still offers the potential for others to round off the edges and nail more vertically-oriented and extremely tailored software solutions.

Private capital markets are actually a great demonstration of this dynamic. Where generic CRM platforms simplify — appropriately so — to assume there’s a business, a customer, a sale, and service of that customer, there are a few industry-specific pieces that are missing.

Take for example, that investors become customers by investing through legal entities the GP raises. It’s a subtle but important nuance that just doesn’t make sense at a platform-as-a-service level (because it’s overly complicated for a simple one-time sale that many industries require), but which can easily be added without 10 years or software engineering. Once provided, the rest of the platform’s components become tremendously powerful again and you’re set to take over the world.

As a traditional CRM in our pillars methodology, these nuances must be present to properly account for investors in these legal entities, potential target companies and which are owned by these entities, the context of all interactions with these parties (as well as the appropriate overlap, ie co-investments), and how you’re arriving at finding these opportunities on both sides of the equation, such that you’re able to piece together what’s effective and what’s not. Not just because we say so, but because these are the very relationships and data that are key to the motivation behind a CRM in any industry.

It’s critical, too, that the valuable publicly-available information that helps to enrich CRM systems and save users painful steps of entering it themselves is fully-integrated at the platform level.

Again, look no further than the 3,000+ pre-built integrations that Salesforce.com — the creator of the CRM platform concept — has at a platform level to do so, and which only exists by way of holding just short of overly-specifying certain industry workflows that would present challenges to properly integrate.

Stakeholder reporting and communication (investor relations) draws on a range of datasets

The traditional “customer service” model of CRM systems once again makes overly-simplified assumptions about the customer relationship when applied to private capital markets.

In fifteen years I personally have yet to hear the terms “warranty” or “service call” in this market because it’s just not the same. But make no mistake, as uncomfortable as it may be to say aloud, customer service is more important now than ever and it’s constantly happening; the industry is, after all, considered to be a financial “service”.

As it turns out, that service is primarily information-based — it’s driven by data and takes the form of reports and analysis that drive decisions, and then end up again in investor-facing reports and analysis.

The foundational elements of a private capital markets CRM must be built such that they accommodate this data (like we discussed above), but so too that it can accommodate additional supporting data that investors (customers!) need in the context of service.

Oftentimes this supporting data — financial metrics and time-based values, for example — is believed not to meet the traditional definition of CRM and the natural thought is “well, better do this in Excel!”.

While I happen to believe Excel is still the greatest software application ever built, its introduction to this value chain we’ve discussed herein actually creates the problem many firms suffer from: key data needed to provide customer service (again: effectively the entirety of a firm’s reports and analysis) is now in disparate systems and detached.

Both of those dynamics are important and distinct: not only is this supplemental data disparate, but when brought together there is no logical association that can be made between the two data sets.

Allow me, then, to make the point very simply: not only can this financial and time-based value data (you may be thinking about is as “portfolio monitoring” or “accounting”) be a part of a CRM, it is arguably the most important part of a CRM because it’s at the core of what providing service to the customer entails — information that comes out of data!

Firms need a digital method to engage stakeholders (ie investor portals)

Investor portals are not new; in fact, for many of us — including myself — they conjure up horrifying nightmares in which we’re aimlessly guessing at folders to find the newest document we need.

So in lies the opportunity: not only have the portals we’ve come to hate not simplified the process of acquiring information, they’ve failed to create an entirely new experience that is “customer service” driven.

To be fair, this is not a B2C market where you’d be long out of business for not having focused on customer service and thus the customer’s technology-driven experience. But don’t expect to be around too much longer if you aren’t thinking about this shift.

Today’s institutional investors increasingly expect this same consumer-like experience, and a massive opportunity is being missed by not providing it. It’s not about providing them the experience they desire; it’s more about the ability to measure engagement that is had in return.

Put simply: what’s keeping the market from providing this experience is the availability of the information that’s required to create the service that provides the experience.

If you’ve hung in this long, you know that by focusing on your CRM, you have the data that’s required to manage the customer relationship and the technology-driven experience through which that information is shared to create a differentiated and opportunistic customer experience.