10 ways a fund manager can truly create value for their portfolio companies


“As I went to bed this evening after yet another long day of working with our portfolio companies, I thought I’d share some high-level thoughts and reflections on what it takes to be a truly good VC with your portfolio companies,” writes Zacharian George, chief investment officer of Startupbootcamp AfriTech.

As the saying goes: “Anyone can be a father. But it takes someone special to be a dad”. As a dad, I know this all too well. And similarly in the venture world – “Any VC fund can write a check. But it takes a really special VC to truly create value for their portfolio”.

Here’s how I think VC fund managers should be constantly evaluating themselves.

Do you:

  1. Regularly check in with your founders (at least once a month) and help with introductions to channel partners, customers, corporations and distribution networks?
  2. Help with access to world-class advisors that are industry/sector/product/regional experts that can sit on advisory boards of your portfolio companies?
  3. Help introduce your portfolio companies to later-stage funds for future funding rounds and volunteer to help them with due diligence?
  4. Get your LPs to look at co-investing alongside you to help close out funding rounds for your target companies so they spend less time fundraising and more time on running operations?
  5. Help your founders with recruiting the best talent?
  6. Meticulously go through your portfolio each month and proactively see how your various founders can add value to each other’s businesses irrespective of what sector or region they are in?
  7. Constantly keep track of the top events, forums, conferences and summits where your founders can showcase what they do to the world, and help get them priority access to them?
  8. Help your founders find the top resources in and negotiate the best terms with professional firms with regard to legal, tax, audit, IP and other ancillary services?
  9. Regularly try (wherever possible and relevant) to incorporate elements of your various portfolio companies’ product/service offerings into how you and your personal network of friends, acquaintances and business connections go about their daily lives?
  10. Once every six months (or at least once a year) spend time with the founders of all your portfolio companies on physical or virtual off-sites to make sure their goals, visions and values are constantly pointing in the direction of greater economic, social and environmental well being?

If you do not place founders as your number one priority, and aren’t doing at least six of the above on a regular basis, you will likely struggle to see true world-class returns over your fund life cycle.


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Key players from Africa's startup and investment ecosystem post on issues close to their heart for Disrupt Africa.

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