As we share more about our fund investment thesis on the Foundry Group blog, I also wanted to give more transparency for how we interact with our GPs and how we aspire to help them. I’ve shared the text below from an email that we sent out earlier this year. I hope this provides a window into the form of interaction and collaboration we want to have with our friends and partners. We feel like we have a responsibility to #GiveFirst and act according to a Code of Conduct as LPs. We welcome transparency to the LP world with the #OpenLP movement and I hope we can be leaders in the push to bring this part of the ecosystem into the light. – LE
“Greetings FG Next Partners,
We hope you’re having a great beginning to 2017! Last year was an incredible start for Foundry Group Next. We raised the fund, transplanted a Texan, poached Jaclyn from the glory of big law, and, most importantly, we partnered with 10 great fund managers. We’re appreciative and excited to be working with such an awesome group of GPs and to welcome a few new ones in 2017.
Internally, we refer to our team as a family and our portfolio companies often refer to each other as cousins. We like to think of you as part of that extended family so in our vernacular your portfolio companies are second cousins. Taken together, this creates a meaningful extended network of exciting companies. While we believe that all partnerships and cross-selling should occur organically, we want to encourage this within the ecosystem and are looking for ways for the whole family to engage with and support each other. We’d love to hear any ideas or suggestions.
As we begin 2017, we wanted to touch base with all of you to introduce several new FG Next initiatives we’re rolling out. We welcome your feedback and are open to suggestions. As always, we’re here if you need us.
Team Foundry Group Next
Slack Channel. As we mentioned, this is an awesome group of GPs. We want you to get to know and learn from each other. You will be receiving an invite to an FG Next GP Slack channel. We encourage you to use the channel to communicate with and support each other the same way your CEOs use the communication channels many of you have created. Use cases might include:
- Service provider referrals and reviews;
- Connections to downstream investors;
- Sharing networks and industry knowledge; and
- Talent referrals.
While we know that you will occasionally find yourselves in competitive situations, we love to see several of our funds invest in the same company – we see this as a positive signal and are not concerned with diversification risk. We hope this will be an active channel, and we’ll seed it with some questions of our own.
We’re invoking circle of trust/cone of silence, so everything on the channel will remain confidential and only Foundry Group and FG Next GPs will have access. We’ll circulate a list of everyone on the channel so you know who you’re talking to and will announce new GPs as they join the family.
Data Collection and Polling. When asked what we can do to be helpful, many of you responded with “data on X, Y, Z.” We’d like to compile data on various aspects of venture and startups including, LPs interested in venture, compensation (for both companies and funds), financing terms, market trends, and service providers. As you are one of our greatest resources, we may tap your insights using periodic email polls.
Group Discounts. We’ve already rolled out eShares (a big thanks to those of you who have signed up). They’ve agreed to waive the setup fee for our Foundry family. We’re looking into other opportunities to obtain bundled services or discounts for our GPs.
Insider LP/Mentor GP. Part of the goal and purpose of our fund is to bring the entire ecosystem together and interact with you in a different way than traditional LPs. We encourage you to leverage our partnership in the following ways:
- Fundraising: LP introductions; deck review and pitch practice.
- LP Relations: LP communications/messaging advice; annual meeting prep.
- Operations/Strategy: thinking through strategy– fund size, portfolio construction, team, growth, transitions, etc; sourcing/interviewing/vetting potential hires.
Brad, Jason, Seth, and Ryan are available in these ways, as LPs, but can also be supportive as GPs that have been in your shoes. They can weigh in on deal dynamics, specific investors, industry-specific issues, growing pains (for the GP and portfolio companies), founder drama, board structure (and drama).
Mi Casa es Su Casa. We have a great office here in Boulder. Please feel free to hold your off-sites here; Brad also has a retreat center at his house 30 minutes outside of Boulder that is free to use. It’s a great way for us all to get exposure to our broader teams. Boulder is a perfect place to get away from the noise and enjoy the outdoors in a low-key setting. Groups have done a half-day in the office, half-day outside playing, followed by dinner with those of us who are in town to rehash the day. Whatever works for you, we’d love to host!
Best Practices. We’re working on putting together some best practices docs for you– e.g. must-haves in a pitch deck, LP-friendly reporting, and annual meeting guidelines.
GP References and Referrals. This is more of an ask. As we consider adding new managers to the family, we’d love to get your thoughts, as many of you have worked with our prospective GPs. We’ll send out periodic emails with a list of funds in our pipeline and welcome feedback from those of you who know these GPs well. Cone of silence applies, so you don’t have to worry about your comments getting back to your friends (or foes, as the case may be). We also welcome referrals to your GP friends who might be a good fit for us or would like a friendly LP’s perspective.
Family Dinners. We’d like to get the gang together for a few GP dinners this year. Not to start another East Coast v. West Coast battle, but we’ll probably do one in the Bay Area and one in New York or Boston to make it convenient for you. Jaclyn will follow up with you to identify some dates that would work.
Quarterly Calls. We’ve already got the ball rolling on this one and appreciate you working with us to get these scheduled. Some of you have requested monthly calls– big smiles on our end but we won’t force it on the rest of you. The purpose of these calls is to check in to see how you’re doing and if you need anything from us. We would also like to do a quick review of your portfolio and identify any potential direct deals we should have on our radar. Here’s a description of the types of deals that are a fit for FG Next. We’re always game to talk to founders about later stage fund-raising, even if they’re not currently in fundraising mode. We can also play matchmaker for Series A deals for our early stage fund.”