By Ryan Hoover on Feb 11, 2021
As an early stage investor, we receive investor updates from our portfolio companies. We also write them for our LPs at Weekend Fund. New fund managers often ask how we update our LPs, so I thought it might be useful to share our process publicly.
First off, LP updates are very important. We owe it to our LPs to keep them informed on how we’re investing their capital. It’s also serves as an opportunity to put them to work for our portfolio companies and remain top of mind for future deal flow.
For this reason, we put a lot of time into this, often 10 hours, into a single update. Our LPs seem to appreciate it. Here are some of the replies we’ve received:
“You write the best LP updates. Thoughtful, informative, and delivered predictably.” – Ben Parr
“[Weekend Fund updates are] consistent and detailed without being overwhelming. Succinct but with lots of clickthroughs if you want to delve deeper. Visually simple and easy to read on the phone.” – Rui Ma
I share these quotes not to boast (because honestly, this is really easy stuff) but instead to illustrate how much LPs appreciate consistent, detailed updates.
We send updates every ~2 months. It’s reasonable to send quarterly, but anything longer than that is too infrequent.
A few weeks before each update, we contact new portfolio founders asking for sign off on what we share. This is incredibly important as some founders are more sensitive to sharing information broadly and as an investor it’s our duty to “do no harm” to portfolio companies.
We also reach out to many of our portfolio founders to see if they have “asks” they would like us to forward to our LPs, which include talented founders and operators in marketing, engineering, design, sales, and other fields.
The update is written in Google Docs and shared via email. We used to email updates in their entirety to reduce friction even further (no need to click out) but found the reading experience to be easier in Google Docs.
Each LP update follows a consistent structure:
Let’s break this down…
We open the update with a short summary like this:
Since our last update, we invested in 3 new companies: My Yoga Teacher, Wise, and Addressable. We also doubled down on our prior investments in Certn.
As always, please keep this update confidential.
This is followed by updates on our experiments, trends we’re excited about, and intel on how our investing strategy has evolved.
Markups are a proxy for fund performance and worth highlighting to LPs. After getting the founder’s sign off, we list the companies that raised since our last update. It looks like this:
Certn – $33.8M Series A led by Inovia Capital, [redacted] markup
Welcome – $6M Seed led by FirstMark Capital, [redacted] markup
Northstar – $7.3M Series A led by M13, [redacted] markup
Many portfolio companies raise additional capital on a SAFE or note, but we only include companies that raise on a priced round so that we can provide an accurate markup multiple and stronger signal of progress.
We link to a private Airtable base with a list of all portfolio companies and include the company’s name, short description, URL, category, and which fund(s) we invested through (Weekend Fund 1 or 2).
The majority of the update is contained in this section. We introduce new portfolio companies by sharing a modified version of our internal investment memo. Our goal is to give LPs a clear overview of what the company does, why we’re excited, and the team behind it. We include some of our research and details on our thinking in hopes that LPs learn something through our updates.
Here’s an example of Dukaan (written in November 2020) which the founder gave us permission to share publicly:
Shopify for India
$150K on a $[redacted] post-money valuation
Why we’re excited:
Dukaan is an app that lets Indian SMBs create their online store in 2 minutes (in short, Shopify for India). And it’s growing FAST.
They enable SMBs to start selling directly through a web app. Store owners:
- Customize their online store with a logo, themes and domain
- Add their products/services to their product catalog
- Service orders through their in-built order management system
They also offer merchants (depending on the plan you’re on):
- Marketing tools
- Reports/analytics dashboard
- GST (goods and services tax) support
- Custom domain
- Multiple store management
India has between 65-75M SMBs (depending on which estimate you look at) and growing 10% CAGR a year. However, only 16-18 million have an online presence (a website, an online listing, or social media presence). Only half out of the 5 million registered domains have live websites. The percentage that actually do business online is much lower than that.
Covid-19 accelerated the digitization trend. A survey in June 2020 showed that 30% of MSMEs (Indian word for SMBs) in India started a business website or an e-commerce shop during lockdown. However, Shopify is too complex for most Indian SMBs to use especially for a mobile-first audience.
Dukaan is building an ultra-light Shopify for India. They’re giving Indian SMBs the commerce infrastructure to build, launch and manage the day-to-day of their businesses online.
Longer term they have a large opportunity to expand vertically across the entire commerce stack.
Dukaan is co-founded by Suumit Shah. Suumit has years of experience in growth, working with startups through Risemetric, a growth agency he started.
He also worked with InVideo, an India-based startup that WF invested in, to help with growth. The reference check with InVideo’s CEO, Sanket, was extremely positive.
The team has significant traction in the first two months of launch with over 1.3M stores created, 12K average orders per day, and 170K DAU.
They’re acquiring customers primarily through WOM and in-product marketing (“this store was built with Dukaan” – example here).
They’re closing a $6.1M seed with participation from Lightspeed India, Matrix India, Shaan Puri, and others.
This section highlights meaningful updates from a subset of portfolio companies that want to be included. Updates include big product releases; notable press, blog posts, or podcasts; and most importantly, “asks” from the founder(s).
While we don’t require our LPs to “work” for the portfolio, many are eager to do so and help with recruiting, partnership intros, and promotional support.
Turn tax credits into cash flow
MainStreet automates discovery, application, and collection of government hiring incentives and tax credits for startups and small businesses.
Their business is booming. It’s the fastest growing company (by revenue) that we’ve invested in to date. They went from $0 in May this year to $13M ARR in November.
How you can help: Unsurprisingly, their engineering needs are now greater than they can handle. They’re hiring for the following engineering positions:
- Fullstack Engineer
- Product Designer
- Senior Product Manager
Lastly, we end the update with a brief personal note from myself and Vedika. This is often unrelated to the fund and intended to give LPs a peek into our lives (if curious!).
Here’s an example:
Like many of us, I grew up playing video games. My parents owned a video game store. It was the best. Gaming is largely responsible for my early interest in tech although I’ve successfully avoided playing for the last decade… until now.
I’m trying to adopt new hobbies other than work activities, so I bought a gaming PC. I’m currently playing Call of Duty: Warzone and Among Us. Ping me if you’re down to play! :)
If you’d like feedback on your LP updates, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if useful, here's a Google Docs template for your own updates.
And if you missed it, read Vedika’s post on the tools, workflows, and habits we’ve adopted at Weekend Fund to run the fund efficiently.