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Part 2 - How to work with your investors at early stages

Aurore Falque-Pierrotin
December 1, 2022

One of our goals as investors is to help our portfolio companies be as successful as possible. In addition to financial commitment, we strive to add value. Typically, the more information you share with us, the better we are able to understand your business and give relevant advice. To us, communication is the only way to drive alignment.

As such, we see Investors Relations (i.e. the management of reporting documents, boards, and monthly calls) not only as a way to ensure legal compliance and our fiduciary duty to our Limited Partners, but also as a way to ensure information alignment between us and our portfolio companies. They are essentially communication channels.

You will find below some general considerations on how to best handle investor relations. Every company and every board is different but this is what we have seen work best. Even if they are best practices typically put in place at the Series A, even at the Seed stage, the idea is to progressively work towards this - demanding - standard.

Our first part of this two part series, on Company Reporting, can be found here.

“Board management” is the second pillar of investor relations. A functioning board can be a powerful weapon and a key competitive advantage for a company. If handled correctly, it should be much more than a “reporting” tribune.

Before the board: How to produce the best Board materials
  • Boards should be scheduled >6 months in advance to optimise for availabilities; they should last approx. 2 hours.
  • Ideally you need to send the materials >72-48h in advance; board members send you back questions >12h in advance to give you some time to prepare. At the board, it can be assumed that everyone has read the materials beforehand.
The materials should include:
  • A precise agenda for the c.2 hours to allocate time properly.
  • A high level review of the “High / Lows” of the quarter as it forces the board to take a step back as a group on the last months and review success and current challenges together.
  • A review of key decisions made at the previous board, and the progress made since then.
  • A summary slide with the top 3-5 Northstars metrics for the next 12 months to start the calibration / metrics section.
  • Deep-dives sections (i.e. Product, Sales etc.) typically prepared by Founders and/or key c-levels.
  • An updated organisational chart to better understand the reporting lines, the hiring gaps etc.
  • A snapshot of the financial reporting including a P&L, some projections / Business Plan for the next 12 months.
  • Finishing by a clear view of Money-in-the bank, current net burn and runway.
  • The format doesn’t matter; it could be PPT slides, Notion, or Amazon-style Word docs - even an email. As long as it is analytical and data-driven. Along with the board materials, you can also send the KPIs dashboard and the financial reporting in Excel so people can refer to it.
  • For each board, it is useful to identify 2-3 strategic topics you want to discuss, sending them beforehand so board members have time to reflect on it. The discussion will be more insightful.
During the board: How to nail Board management
  • You can start with the “High / Lows” to set the context and the tone of the board.
  • If board members have sent their questions in advance, you can then directly jump into questions, the strategic topics and the discussion items - avoiding spending the entire time on reporting.
  • Generally, strive to find the optimal level of granularity to make the most of your board meetings. Avoid spending too much time on descriptive matters that can be conveyed asynchronously and focus on framing forward-looking, strategic discussions.
  • C-levels responsible for deep-dive section could be presenting; it is a good way to engage your management team. However, you want to keep the numbers of people around the table limited to foster discussions.
  • At the end of the board, you can include (not always relevant):
  • C-levels / execs quick review.
  • 5-min “investor-only” discussion for your investors base to get align and to summarize the board position on the key topics (without the Founders).
After the board: How to manage board follow-up
  • Always make sure the next board is pencilled in. Ideally the next 2-3 boards are already organised.
  • Send across a key summary and/or the board minutes, and more importantly the operational “To do’s” to hold people around the table accountable.
  • Put down the board’s high level conclusions / decisions in writing so as to start the next board with the review of those decisions items.

**

At Samaipata, we are always looking for ways to improve. Do not hesitate to send us your thoughts or share other Investor Relations best practices that we might have missed. We strive to partner with early-stage founders and to support them in taking their business to the next level. Check out more ways in which we can help here or for all our other content here.

And as always, if you’re a European platform founder looking for Seed funding, please send us your deck here or subscribe to our Quarterly updates here.

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