Raising a fund on your own — some insights in hindsight

Annelie Ajami
Anamcara Capital
Published in
8 min readApr 6, 2023

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In 2021 I launched Anamcara. Anam Cara stands for ‘soul friend’, a person with whom you can share anything with without judgment. Anamcara is a thematically focused fund that invests in pre/-seed stage companies building business technologies across Europe. Our mission is to find some of the most creative, innovative and contrarian thinkers of our time and to build meaningful partnerships to help them achieve greatness.

Looking back, the entire fundraising process, from beginning to end, was almost existential — a continuous repetitive narration (and iteration) of how, why now and why you. And when the no’s come, you dust yourself off and get back out there to tell the same story but with even more rigour, fire and confidence. It is a deeply personal journey. A process of relentless self reflection. A battle of the mind against itself.

On a few occasions during this time, especially in the latter half, people have come to me for insights on how to raise a fund. While I’m always happy to provide some perspectives, I don’t have all the answers. Perhaps not even any. I also think that writing a “fundraise 101” after raising one fund feels self indulgent. (I hope this assures the reader that I indeed have some level of self awareness..) However, I do think some of my learnings could help shed some light or, at the very least, save some time. So here goes —

  1. Find your USP and productize — having a thematic focus and differentiated value proposition helped us stand out from the crowd. I put a lot of effort into developing (and articulating) our “product”. Anamcara is a specialised B2B investor that writes angel sized checks. We complement this with a strong advisory network of world class operators that have decades of expertise in areas such as engineering, sales and customer success. This network supports our portfolio and allows us to scale our value-add. It is this “business angel +” approach that is really at the core of the Anamcara USP.
  2. Early champions — these are the people who believed in me before anything really materialised. They were crucial in helping me exponentially scale the network of potential investors that I had access to. These champions are people I highly respect, value and trust. I knew I could rely on them for advice and honest feedback. They were vocal in their support and helped me amplify my mission with other people in the industry. I remember sitting at a dinner in New York when one of my LPs announced I was building the most successful seed fund in Europe. Obviously I laughed at the grandeur of that statement but somehow I think he meant it. It is this type of support, a belief in you that is stronger than the belief in yourself, that ultimately helps you to continue to drive the mission. Fall, get back up. Repeat.
  3. Time — even when you have nothing, you have time. And when you have everything, time is all you have. As a solo GP when you are raising a fund on your own and deploying capital in parallel, time is your most valuable asset. Spend it wisely. Curate the events you attend. Be selective with the people you meet. Say “no” more. Another important “hack” (I hate this word) is to cut your losses at the right moment. In the beginning I wasted too much time chasing potential LPs. While many may not agree with me on this, but if someone doesn’t reply after 3 follow-ups they are not interested. Move on. Time is better spend on another lead.
  4. Fund set up — before I went to market I set up the fund, got licensed, opened a bank account, engaged third party service providers and prepared the documents. This ensured that every conversation I had once I kicked off the fundraise was always “live”. Whenever I would get a verbal commitment the subscription docs would be in their inbox the next day with my fund administrator in cc to help onboarding. Strike while the iron is hot. It ensured that I didn’t have to put these commitments on ice (literally) and return to them later. Especially in choppy markets, they might not be there anymore for you to collect. Lesson here — when there is money on the table, take it.
  5. Build a smart pipeline — it is general knowledge that some LPs have the ability to commit faster than others. HNWs have the ability (and agency) to commit after a short call whereas institutions are fiduciaries and have to follow stringent and often longwinded processes. My advice is to start your fundraise by engaging with institutions first and HNWIs/FOs/friends etc. second. In all likelihood institutional investors will not come into your first close but rather your second and third. Considering they need so much more time it makes sense to start talking to them early so they don’t drag out your fundraise when you are almost ready to final close.
  6. Know your audience — There are many capital allocators in the market. From family offices to fund of funds. Trying to understand who you have in front of you is critical in running an efficient fundraise process. Understanding where a FoF is in their deployment cycle or whether they are fundraising gives you good insight on whether your fund is interesting to them or not. Always good to build relationships but probably not worth entering a lengthy due diligence process with them. For FOs or HNW, it is crucial to understand their process and who the decision makers are. Therefore, spend time investigating. Speak to your network and reach out to some of the funds they have backed. In one instance a fund manager told me in confidence a specific LP did extensive DD only to end up committing a very small amount. The manager quite literally said, don’t waste your time. All it takes is 1 call to find out. It’s worth it.
  7. Momentum— keep controlling the process. Some early advice I got about fundraise was all about giving LPs FOMO. I actually found this very difficult because you would have to say something like — we are nearly oversubscribed. I’m sure some people do this very successfully but for me personally, at some point an LP is going to figure out this is not true. Also, I have to admit, I’m not super sales-y. I think the best way to call LPs to action is to show momentum. You can do this through quarterly updates, launching monthly newsletters, building your portfolio, and showing progress etc. The key is to show LPs you are executing on your strategy and validating your thesis.
  8. You are not a priority (sorry) — LPs are unique creatures and behave in curious ways. Some commit after a 30 minute call and some take months of back and forth before they decide to invest. I have often been asked why LPs drag you like that. I really don’t know. But I think is it safe to assume you are not a priority. You are not even in the top 10. With this in mind, I tried to work on strategies that could get me from 100th place ranking in their list of priorities to the top 5. How? Some ideas — 1. schedule a follow up meeting to discuss next steps. This seems obvious but key here is to get them on a call to drive the process and for you to know what need to be done to get them over the line 2. regularly update them on your progress and share achievements 3. try to see them F2F (pretend you are in town :)) 4. build momentum (see point 7) 5. push them to activate by setting clear dates — first close and final close. Without setting dates, LPs are likely to push decisions out. Make yourself a priority. And.. have patience.
  9. ASK! — this was a hard lesson for me because I don’t like to be blunt. Just doesn’t feel natural. However, I probably met a dozen of LPs who could have invested but didn’t because I didn’t ask the question. At the end of a meeting just ask — could this be interesting for you? LPs have countless of investment opportunities at any given time and so they will not just offer you money. You have to ask. I know it is easier said than done..
  10. Ask again — once you are close to your final close go back to your existing LPs and ask them to top up. At this point you can already show some progress and some LPs may be more comfortable doubling down. It is worth a try!
  11. Know your strengths — or weaknesses rather.. 6 months into our raise (and post-first close) I realised (not surprisingly) that for someone with my skillset it was a total operational nightmare to run a heavily regulated full-on GP/LP structure. I just didn’t have the knowhow and insights. Understanding this early, pushed me to start looking for someone infinitely better at this than me. Someone like-minded but different and complementary. Immediately upon first close, Aakriti joined me as Anamcara’s Operations Manager. Some would say this is a risky move so early in the fundraise but.. I live by the mantra “you either do it or you don’t”. Full steam ahead. Today, Aakriti is the engine of Anamcara. She is what makes us airborne and ready to fly. I could not have done this without her. Hire talent!
  12. Build your community — as a solo GP you don’t have partners on your investment team to help you debrief or to share ideas with. You are often alone with your thoughts, your doubts and reflections. I found much refuge in my immediate network. Family, friends, VCs, and LPs. The Arab and Irish “mafia”. You know who you are. From deals, to fundraise, to setup. I know for a fact I have bothered a few of them endlessly with the most mundane line of questioning on operational setup. I definitely corned my husband more than a dozen times (usually on flights so he couldn’t escape) to fire a barrage of urgent questions at him. Absolutely invaluable. No one manages to raise (and run) a fund truly on their own.
  13. Celebrate small wins — one of my LPs told me — “Annelie, just to be clear this is a marathon, not a sprint. Everything takes a long time.” From fundraising to feedback cycles. I learnt quickly that despite making good progress there was always more to do, more to achieve. This continuously left me with a feeling of unease and a feeling of not having accomplished much. This taught me to appreciate small wins and celebrate them. This sounds like a pointless exercise and totally trivial but it mattered to the psyche. As a result, I have a handful of videos of me dancing (wildly flapping my arms into the air and running around the living room) to celebrate each of my LP commits. It helps.
  14. Dont count the no’s — just don’t.
  15. Bonus — don’t deal with @ssholes — makes your life easier.

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