An introduction to the Cavalry Platform
This post reflects our platform strategy, the reasons behind building the Cavalry Platform, and an outlook of what is to come.
The starting point
Some background. Cavalry is an early-stage venture fund with a very strong entrepreneurial DNA. Before setting up Cavalry, we started, scaled, and exited multiple million- and even billion-dollar companies. We have partnered with various venture capital funds during our entrepreneurial journeys, which is where a lot of the inspiration for Cavalry and the way we work comes from.
We are a “what you see is what you get” VC; we keep the overhead on the end of our portfolio companies as little as possible and truly make an effort to deliver actual value to our portfolio companies, as opposed to “trying to be helpful”:
Ultimately, our ambition is to be the best possible partner for our portfolio companies by supporting them in many aspects of their journey to building large successful companies.
Building the foundation to delivering value at scale
Early-stage venture capital is a people business where many of the most impactful connections and moments in a company’s journey depend on personal relationships and, more often than not, a good amount of chance. Productising value-add is hard.
Cavalry, since its inception, has put a strong emphasis on building up long-lasting relationships. Today, we are backed by more than 200 individuals (founders, angel investors, industry experts, corporate leaders) and institutions, many of whom we have known for years. Their trust provides us with a vast network of valuable and accessible parties (after all, everyone is an investor in Cavalry), which we wanted to leverage for our portfolio companies. Being builders ourselves, we decided to start building the Cavalry Platform towards the end of 2019 to set up a team and processes to deliver value at scale.
Basic principles of our platform
As a foundational principle, we are taking an ecosystem approach to the way we think about the Cavalry Platform. This means that our platform will never just be a piece of software, but rather a combination of our network, consisting of founders, investors, and experts, our internal teams, as well as a solid software stack — all designed to deliver a positive impact to our portfolio companies.
Here are some of the principles that inform the Cavalry Platform way of working:
- Quick turnaround times: We respond and act quickly.
- Availability: Never a situation where founders can’t reach us.
- No ghosting: Stuff does not get forgotten, we follow up.
- Upfront communication: Setting clear expectations and telling it like it is.
- High quality: We don’t do quota work, our support shall have an impact.
We are holding our portfolio companies to high standards, therefore we see it as our obligation to do the same. After all, we are also building a company at the same time, albeit with a different product (selling money).
Running something like the Cavalry Platform requires a good software stack. While not rocket science, having proper tools in place is a prerequisite for scalable processes as well as the foundation of making informed decisions based on data. As a general rule, we found it helpful to start from a single source of truth/system of record (e.g. the CRM) and start building from there.
What the Cavalry Platform does
As mentioned above, the Cavalry Platform is not purely software but also consists of a dedicated team in charge of executing all platform-related activities as well as further developing the capabilities of the Cavalry Platform.
Here’s an excerpt of what the Cavalry Platform delivers to our portfolio companies today:
- Introductions. Our vast network allows us to connect portfolio companies to potential customers, talent or investors. Furthermore, it provides us the opportunity to connect our founders to experts for sparring around various relevant topics (e.g. cross-portfolio). The ability to deliver high-quality introductions efficiently is a big focus for Cavalry and something we are becoming very good at.
- Perks. We have a portfolio of 50+ pre-negotiated discounts for relevant companies (CRM software, HR tools etc.), effectively allowing our companies to save cash.
- Workshops. Regular workshops on a variety of topics, ranging from category building to enterprise sales or talent acquisition.
- HR. Strategic guidance and best practice sharing from our in-house HR experts.
- Communications. Hands-on support in all matters related to communications, public relations and marketing. For instance, in 2021 alone, we have consulted more than half of our portfolio on these topics and overall spent 540 hours working with them. We helped draft 13 press releases and introduced portfolio companies to an average of 20 journalists each. The areas of support vary depending on the needs of the company ranging from media relations to social media, events and award management, media training, marketing, etc.
Since the exact activities are somewhat of a secret sauce, we kept this list somewhat generic but we do hope that this inspires other funds to step up their support game as well, finding their own ways to deliver value.
The Cavalry Platform by the numbers
Data is crucial to measuring the impact of our activities and for continuously improving our processes. As a general rule, we aim to track every relevant interaction with a portfolio company either automatically via an integration between email/calendar and our CRM, or manually, in case an interaction has taken place outside of the realm of connected systems. In addition to simply tracking interactions, the correct classification of events and closing loops are critically important to drive process improvements.
For example, introductions might be of different types (business development, partnerships, recruiting, etc.) and the definition of a successful introduction is potentially also defined differently, depending on the type of the introduction.
While we won’t be able to dive too deep into how we are doing things exactly (secret sauce and stuff), below you will find a chart of the development of the number of introductions facilitated by portfolio companies. This obviously is not the most granular way of looking at data, but hopefully highlights a starting point that illustrates where a dataset, that can be sliced and diced, might be helpful to support decision making within a fund.
Number of introductions taking off with the launch of the Cavalry Platform at the end of 2019
We are still at the very beginning of building the best VC platform we can possibly think of. There is a lot to be done, and we are very excited about the road ahead of us.
Are you interested in joining the Cavalry Platform Team? Check the Platform Manager (m/f/d) role here and get in touch 🤠