Case Study: IVP Uses Altvia’s Platform To Streamline Investor Communications

Success isn’t built overnight, just ask Altvia client, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP).

IVP first opened its doors in 1980 starting with a $22 million venture capital fund, and a goal to partner with future focused market leaders.

Today, IVP’s commitment to growing its relationships with top entrepreneurs has led to investments in more than 400 companies, 112 of which have gone public, and now managing $7 billion in assets.

The Challenge

For 15 years, IVP used basic desktop database software to manage its Limited Partner contacts and interactions, but it was no longer sustainable for the successful growing firm. It became clear that they needed to evaluate their options for a new technology partner.

Along with a single platform to manage, the team needed new capabilities and workflows to help manage day-to-day activities. Another must-have was the ability to have a multi-sign -on, so members of the firm could update records in real-time.

IVP decided to implement a basic version of Salesforce.com with some built-in customization offered by an independent consultant.

While going through their first fundraise in Salesforce; they realized rather quickly, it wasn’t the right match. Frustrated, IVP’s VP of Business Development and IR, Kelly O’Kane noticed the workflows and contact fields needed to manage the fund were not scalable.

“We knew we had to go back to the drawing board,” O’Kane told Altvia. After their fundraising was complete, they did just that.

They knew they wanted to stay with Salesforce but chose a more finance-centric consultant to build out a better, more scalable workflow for their Investor Relations team. It was during the second attempt that O’Kane dove into Salesforce and learned the robust capabilities it offered.

She became more familiar with the capabilities of Salesforce, not only could the platform be utilized for fund administration, but it was also a great tool to use for the firm’s marketing efforts.

While IVP’s business development team was celebrating the latest Salesforce configuration, a new problem arose, their third-party data room was not only not integration-friendly, but was left out of a process that was now heavily centered around IVP’s instance of Salesforce.

The Solution

“Our team would spend anywhere from 5-10 hours cross-checking our investor reports for distribution,” O’Kane stated. She went on, “when you have last-minute capital calls, distributions, audits or any other various items that come up, not having an integrated solution proved itself to be problematic”.

It was during this time that O’Kane was introduced to Altvia’s GP-LP Portal, ShareSecure, and communication tool which together could integrate with Salesforce, and in turn, create a fluid process for the firm.

“This whole thing could have been avoided had we started with Altvia earlier. We could have spared, time, money, and possibly some frustration.” One can imagine the change wasn’t exactly welcomed after a 15 year-long run of the legacy system, and a rough start during the first implementation. With O’Kane, Altvia helped the IVP team get excited about the new technology implementation.

“The team saw wins the first week. They have been excited about how much easier their work has been for them.”

IVP can now give their partners peace of mind with ShareSecure, where they can request signatures, track documents, and activities. “I was in good hands with Altvia, not only because they had the experience and understood the nuances of private equity, but also in the way I was assisted through the entire sales process, and implementation.”

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.