Vector Essential Fund Launch Webinar Recap: Leveraging Your Service Providers & Tech Stack

On August 9th, we had our fourth episode in the Essential Fund Launch Webinar Series. Accompanying us were Strut Consulting VC Ops experts, Kristen Ostro, Founder and CEO, and Nicole Fuller, COO. With their expertise, they walked us through the nuances of optimizing VC operations and making pragmatic choices regarding service providers and technology. Throughout this blog, we’ll be sharing the key points from our fourth webinar session from the series.


What are the primary service providers required when launching a fund?

When embarking on the journey of launching a fund, a collaborative effort with key service providers becomes essential to establish a robust operational foundation. Among these pivotal partners are legal experts who play the role of structuring the fund’s legal framework. They navigate the intricate web of regulations, ensuring compliance and crafting agreements that align with industry and regulatory standards. Fund administration, another critical facet, involves professionals who manage accounting and operational tasks. By assuming responsibilities such as reporting and investor communication, they ensure the smooth functioning and transparency of fund operations. Additionally, an audit partner contributes to accountability and transparency by validating financial data and instilling investor confidence through diligent oversight. Banking partners facilitate financial transactions, simplifying the movement of funds and optimizing cash management strategies. In the context of tax implications, engaging tax professionals is imperative. They provide insights into structuring the fund for tax efficiency, especially in scenarios involving cross-border transactions. Each of these service providers forms a crucial piece of the puzzle, collectively contributing to the successful launch and sustained operations of a fund.


When should a fund manager engage with specific service providers during this process?

The timing of engaging specific service providers holds a strategic significance in the trajectory of a successful fund launch. Legal experts, for instance, should be brought into the fold early on as fund ideation takes shape. Their insights guide fund managers in navigating regulatory landscapes and crafting agreements that underpin the fund’s structure. This becomes particularly vital when formalizing terms and addressing investor inquiries, setting the groundwork for a robust legal foundation. Similarly, the involvement of fund administrators should occur earlier rather than later. This early engagement allows for the establishment of streamlined operational practices, optimizing accounting and reporting procedures. Bringing the auditors on early can also ensure transparency through the set up process, along with tax. Their insights guide fund structuring for optimal tax efficiency, a critical consideration, especially in scenarios involving cross-border operations. The strategic timing of involving these service providers ensures not only their availability but also the integration of their insights into the fund’s launch and ongoing operations.


What key characteristics should firms look at when selecting new providers?

When firms are in the process of choosing new service providers for their fund launch, it’s imperative to consider specific characteristics that align with their needs. Adopting a matchmaker approach is valuable, as it involves a careful assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of various providers within each category. Beyond this, it’s essential to align the chosen providers with the unique requirements of the firm, whether that entails a preference for comprehensive white-glove service or a more technology-focused approach. Additionally, comparing quotes from relevant providers and delving into their offerings line by line aids in making a well-informed decision. Lastly, evaluating the experience and expertise of the provider’s team is crucial, ensuring their ability to cater to the firm’s structure, size, and investment focus.


Can you describe some best practices for managing the relationships with service providers? How do firms work best with the providers they’ve chosen?

Effective management of relationships with chosen service providers is a cornerstone of streamlined operations. Understanding the pricing structure is fundamental, particularly when dealing with hourly billing models. This comprehension ensures transparency and aligns with budget expectations. Periodic check-ins, especially in legal matters, are crucial to keep track of billing and avoid surprises. Regular communication is pivotal; weekly check-ins maintain service providers’ awareness of developments, enabling them to plan and execute tasks effectively.

In addition, a human-centric approach is essential. Treating service providers with respect, responsiveness, and understanding fosters a positive partnership. Acknowledging their contributions and challenges enhances response and turnaround times. Notably, recognizing service providers as integral team members ensures a collaborative environment that promotes efficiency and success.


What are the benefits of hiring in-house versus outsourcing?

The decision to either hire in-house or outsource warrants a thorough examination of strategic benefits. Outsourcing to service providers comes with a lot of advantages. First and foremost, expertise and broad industry exposure are key. Service providers will work with a varied clientele, equipping them with unique insights and innovative solutions that might elude a single in-house hire. Particularly in the context of constrained budgets, outsourcing offers a cost-effective avenue to tap into comprehensive skill sets. With specialized providers, firms can gain access to a diverse range of competencies, from legal and fund administration to tech stack management. As the venture landscape constantly evolves, a trusted external partner can nimbly adapt and cater to emerging needs. This collaborative approach fosters efficiency, strategic guidance, and operational flexibility, all at a competitive price point.


Can you provide advice for VC firms just starting to decide on their tech stack and how to build it?

Navigating the tech stack selection, especially for emerging VC firms, should involve careful evaluation and research. A good approach extends beyond just surveying industry peers to gain insights into the tools and systems they utilize. In order to get the tech stack right, managers should take a step back to evaluate the firm’s unique objectives, team composition, and data requirements. Delve into the nuances: What portfolio data is essential for not only my own insights but also important for my LPs? What are the criteria for my investment thesis and how does that impact my tech requirements? Who is using this platform and will there be collective team buy-in? Will I be able to commit to using this tool as manager? With a holistic perspective, determine the desired functionalities and budgetary constraints. Armed with these specifics, managers are better equipped to engage in product demos. Tech stack is a big investment and getting it right from the beginning allows managers to create efficiencies across multiple business facets, make more informed decisions, and ensure the money spent isn’t going to waste.


What types of tech platforms does a fund need, especially for a first-time manager?

There are several tech platforms that can be crucial for a fund’s operations. These platforms include a reliable email management system, a robust document management system to organize vital information, effective communication tools such as Slack or email, and a task management tool for day-to-day operations. Video conferencing solutions like Zoom are integral for remote interactions. Additionally, a strong password management tool is vital for security compliance. 

For fund management, a CRM system aids in managing LP and deal flow. Managers don’t always have to start with fancy, robust systems. Creating a well-organized Excel, Google Sheets or Airtable base for data tracking can be sufficient, especially for fund managers on a tight budget. The key here is to ensure you are staying well organized with a thoughtful process, documenting the necessary data to keep your LPs engaged and make the best investment decisions, and keeping these files up-to-date. 


How do you evaluate and choose the right portal platform for LPs?

When thinking about LP communication, it’s essential to prioritize simplicity and streamlined access to information. Many factors can come into play when looking for the right platform, including legal and fund administration partnerships, cost, and user preferences. There are also digital subscription tools that can simplify the closing process to consider. The goal is to ensure that LPs can swiftly locate and interact with the information they need without requiring too many logins.


How have changes in technology and service provider offerings impacted VC fund operations over the last few years?

The tech landscape within VC fund operations has seen significant changes recently, resulting in both positive and complex effects. Various tech solutions have emerged across areas like CRM, document management, and data tracking. While these options offer advantages, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Choosing the right tools necessitates team buy-in and aligning with critical operational needs. It’s important to start with foundational tech that suits the present needs and gradually upgrade as the firm grows.


What are some trends in the evolution of the tech sector within the VC industry?

Over the past decade, the VC industry has seen significant growth and expansion, leading to the development of more tools and solutions to address its unique challenges. Managers are focusing on enhancing the investor experience, streamlining subscription processes, and tackling areas like KYC/AML, and identity verification more efficiently. Additionally, technology is being integrated into fund administration workflows to improve reporting efficiency and quality of service.


How have banking providers for VC firms changed recently?

The landscape of banking providers for VC firms has seen significant changes, driven in part by the fallout from the financial crisis and changing ownership of certain VC industry-specific banks. In the wake of these changes, new players like Citizens and HSBC have entered the market, aiming to fill the void left by the departure of previous banking providers. For example, Citizens recently made announcements about new teams and services, affirming their interest in servicing the VC industry.

However, while these new entrants show promise, it will take time to ensure their long-term ability to cater effectively to the unique needs of VC firms. The traditional players like First Republic Bank (FRB) and Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) have also experienced transitions, with varying levels of commitment to the VC space. The industry is closely watching how these changes unfold, hoping for more options and reliable banking partners that understand the complexities of the venture capital ecosystem.


What are the challenges and considerations for funds that deal with crypto and digital assets when choosing service providers?

Traditionally, some service providers have been cautious about embracing these new asset classes due to their complexity, regulatory ambiguity, and distinct accounting practices. This hesitance has posed challenges for funds seeking to integrate crypto and digital assets into their portfolios.

Technologically, these funds require specialized solutions that can accommodate the intricacies of digital assets. Additionally, as the regulatory landscape around crypto continues to evolve, funds need tools that can adapt and remain compliant. These requirements often lead funds to seek service providers who have experience and expertise in dealing specifically with crypto and digital assets.


What recommendations do you have for emerging managers regarding data storage for investor information?

Emerging managers should prioritize maintaining their own data storage systems for investor information rather than solely relying on fund administrators. While fund administrators are crucial for various tasks, having an independent record of investor data offers several benefits. First, it enables managers to cross-verify information accuracy with fund administrators and other sources. Second, having immediate access to this information is crucial for making more informed decisions on the fly and responding quickly to investor inquiries.

Tools like Google Sheets, Excel, and Airtable are commonly used to create secure and organized data storage solutions. More advanced options include CRM systems like HubSpot or Salesforce, which provide enhanced features and security measures for managing investor data, communication preferences, and contact details.


Should fund managers be tracking their own schedule of investments?

Similarly to tracking their own LP information, fund managers should take a proactive approach to tracking their own schedule of investments internally. While fund administrators are valuable partners, relying solely on them for investment tracking can lead to potential delays and errors. Fund managers need immediate access to accurate investment data to make informed decisions and respond to investor inquiries promptly, especially during fundraising periods.

By maintaining their own set of records, fund managers can cross-reference the data provided by fund administrators, ensuring accuracy and consistency. This also empowers fund managers to stay on top of their investment portfolios, making adjustments and strategic decisions as needed, which is especially critical during quarterly reporting. The key is to strike a balance between leveraging the expertise of fund administrators while maintaining autonomy and control over investment data.


What final pieces of advice do you have for those starting or managing a VC fund?

Starting and managing a VC fund is a multi-faceted endeavor that requires dedication and strategic thinking. Embrace the role of a CEO; building and managing a VC fund is essentially running your own business. Strong relationships, including with the internal team, with service providers, and peers within the industry, play a pivotal role in your success. Prioritize and invest across various responsibilities, ensuring that you’re not neglecting any critical area.

Maintain a positive attitude and adapt to industry changes. Seek guidance from experts and don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed. This collaborative approach can help you avoid common missteps and pitfalls. Remember that building a VC fund is a long-term endeavor, and your reputation and approach will reverberate throughout your interactions within the ecosystem. Focus on nurturing those relationships, upholding integrity, and driving toward your long-term goals.



Thank you again to Kristen and Nicole for such fantastic insights into leveraging your service providers and tech stack as a fund manager! If you are interested in learning more about Strut Consulting and how they support funds, visit their website and reach out to



Disclosure: The content presented in this blog post is based on notes taken during a webinar and is intended for informational purposes only. The information provided in this blog has not been reviewed or verified for accuracy by any official or authoritative body. While every effort has been made to ensure the reliability and accuracy of the content, readers are advised to use their discretion and judgment before relying on the information provided herein. The authors and publishers of this blog disclaim any responsibility for any errors, omissions, or consequences arising from the use of this information. For official and comprehensive information on the subject matter, we recommend referring to reputable sources or seeking professional advice.



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Molly Yakubian

ceo & Managing Partner

Based in Boston, Molly has spent her career in the alternative investment industry, both as a consultant advising fund managers on regulatory compliance matters, and in business development roles working with managers to solve challenges related to compliance, technology, performance, ESG, cybersecurity and risk, and back office outsourcing. Molly graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in finance and is a CAIA Level II candidate.

Having worked both in-house at a private equity shop, as well as in consultative roles with hundreds of managers across a wide spectrum of industry challenges, Molly developed a passion for problem-solving, a commitment to enablement, and ambition for creating synergies between fund managers and service providers.

When not working, Molly spends her time with her three young children, and their family rescue dog, Lani, whom she loves to take for trail runs.

Matthew Wheeler

Founder & CEO

Matt is an alternative investment industry veteran with a passion for helping others – whether it’s assisting fund managers operate their funds, investors track their investments, team members develop their careers or service providers expand their practice. Matt and his team are working hard to build an industry-leading technology solution that brings these parties together.

An Ontario, Canada native, Matt graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a degree in business. He went on to earn the CPA designation before spending time in the Cayman Islands auditing alternative investment funds. Prior to starting Vector AIS (Alternative Investment Services), Matt was a director in the San Francisco office of a premier closed-end fund administrator where he led teams administering various investment strategies, including some of the biggest names in the venture capital industry.

Matt is obsessed with efficiency and enjoys designing elegant solutions to complex problems. He is an adventure seeker who loves hitting the slopes and single-track bike trails. He’s also into adventure travel, including jungle hiking and street food tours. In his down time, he likes to cook or read a book. Matt is currently based out of San Francisco.