The Making of DiligenceVault
DiligenceVault was an idea born from hours of wasted time. My experience in managing risk for a multibillion-dollar GP and a portfolio of LP investments had many rewarding qualities…efficient decision making was unfortunately not one of them. Inefficiencies in the due-diligence process were hindering a team of otherwise intelligent individuals with attention to detail and expert-level judgment. It was insanely frustrating to be slave to one million emails, documents, and disparate sources of information. Attempting to synthesize data into a well thought out investment decision was fraught with countless hours of mind numbing data entry, copying/pasting and manually generating reports. I realized that information has to be timely and relevant to be meaningful in decision making. In our current process, it was neither.
From Experience >> IDEA
Applying my personal experience to the broader buy side industry - I realized the huge potential for a homogenous industry platform for due-diligence. Why do we HAVE to rely on emails, DDQ / RFP documents, and shared drives? Why not SOMEHOW leverage what data and technology has to offer? Why not empower both the direct and indirect fiduciaries on the GP and LP sides of the industry?
That was the moment DiligenceVault was born - A marketplace connecting investors with investment managers containing a set of questions and questionnaire templates. A centralized platform that automates repetitive tasks and makes investment decision-making easier! These templates would provide a starting point for investors to evaluate a manager and an easy way to seamlessly slice and dice data. As the number of users increase, the platform can ultimately standardize the way this fragmented industry preforms due-diligence.
Standardization, in turn, would level the playing field across different investor types while allowing managers to respond to questions asked in a consistent way....A Win-Win!
I Quit My Day Job. NOW What?!?
At some point in your life you reach a point where you face jumping off the cliff to spread your wings and fly, or staying and playing it safe. Choosing to bring this idea to fruition brought me to that point.
Having wrapped up my last day in the office, the reality of the situation only sank in when I woke up at 6am the next morning...thinking to myself "NOW what?" Answer to self? "Time to get started on your startup!"
What's in a name? Choosing a name was the first order of business. And after way too many hours of agonizing over the perfectly descriptive, financially savvy, yet hip and cool name, I finally realized that I really ought to just pick something and move on. DiligenceVault seemed perfect.
Building from the ground up. Next came scaffolding the vision. I started talking to every industry contact that I could, with a goal of at least one new conversation a day. I was on the way to forming a product based on industry feedback.
Many thanks to everyone who helped shape the initial MVP of DiligenceVault! Your feedback kept us going!
Hiring is an art form and you screw up more often than not. Armed with user validation and product-market fit, I started scouting for a technology team. I completely underestimated the complexity of bringing on the right people, without the resources and brand equity of a large firm. I opted for an outsourced team, which ended up being the wrong move. The team was frustratingly disengaged, not sharing a similar vision of building something great. This went on for too long. Lessons learned? Hiring for startups is an art form, with alignment of interests and shared vision as key components. More importantly, if something is not working out, cut the chord.
The starting lineup Recovering from the first mistake, I made a decision to build an internal team, and though it was time consuming, ended up being a rewarding decision. Because our team rocks! We are a team that is passionate about building a product that users love, a team that takes pride in their effort…a team that argues over technical accuracy, but is flexible too. A team that realizes that we are not going to create a world class solution in a single iteration. A team of smart, motivated, interesting (and fun) people to take the product to the next level. We are Team DV.
Making the complicated simple We realized early on the importance of creating a platform with a delightful, seamless user experience. The financial industry has traditionally lagged in this area, offering interfaces you would need a personal translator to effectively navigate. We were going to be the ones to change that. Therefore it was paramount to get user feedback early and often, and iterating based on multiple user testing sessions and meetings. Which is what we did, and continue to do as we ready for launch.
A BIG thanks to those who participated in user testing and feedback sessions!
It’s been a personal and professional growth story for the Team DV. And we are excited about the next stage of the platform where we begin to engage with broader set of users, and add a layer of data analytics.
Haven’t demoed DV yet? Here’s where YOU come in! Take the first steps and sign up for a free trial here! Help us become awesome :)