Katie Birge, Head of Platform, and Ruth Brungard, Platform Associate, share a few key takeaways from this year’s VC Platform Summit.
The M25 platform team is still buzzing after the 2023 VC Platform Summit! This year’s conference, hosted in New York City, was all about re-discovering your network. It brought together VC platform professionals from across the globe for two days of networking, panel discussions and presentations all designed to strengthen the community of platform people and teams across VC firms. The M25 platform team was thrilled to be in attendance, and we wanted to share some key takeaways from our favorite professional development event of the year.
Platform Teams are Growing
This year’s VC Platform Summit was the largest event yet, with 500 platform professionals in attendance. In addition, membership in the VC Platform community nearly doubled since this time last year, with nearly 1900 community members across over 900 firms. Informal polling during some of the sessions also suggests that most firms anticipate growing their platform team in the next couple of years as they look to level up their support to portfolio companies. Smaller teams are looking to add additional members, and internships were a frequent topic of conversation during networking time.
Platform Teams are Making an Impact
A recurring theme for the 2023 Summit was the impact of platform teams on VC firms and portfolio companies. From sessions about metrics to panels about ways platform teams can impact investor relations, fundraising, and talent, and business development, the impact of platform was front and center at this year’s event. More exciting updates are coming on that front by the VC Platform organization, but regardless, firms are seeing the value of putting a team in place to help their portfolio succeed. Next steps for the community: figuring out standardized ways to measure platform impact, more detailed ways to get feedback aside from simple NPS scores, and what areas of specialization within platform teams will benefit portfolio companies the most.
Platform is the Foundation of VC Brands
Brand encompasses a lot more than what you’re sharing to social media or what your website looks like. Brand is the overall perception of your firm. What makes your firm stand out? Platform teams are able to help promote a brand that overlaps with the firm’s investment thesis and goals. Tracking networks, getting involved in your geo / city ecosystems, attending events and hosting happy hours are all great ways to help build a reputable brand. Partners are also a direct reflection of the firm, so building their personal brands to match and build upon the firm is crucial. The most important, yet most difficult thing to track is overall perception and word of mouth. While platform teams support the portfolio and help with branding, getting the entire team to participate in building a brand is key. There may not be an immediate impact, but over time, the firm will be associated with the brand that is being promoted.
Platform requires Prioritization
There are ten components to VC platform. On small platform teams, it’s important to focus on a few components and do them well. Trying to do too much at one time will stretch the team too thin and have you questioning the quality of the work. It’s important to decide what is being prioritized, which is why the M25 team focuses on five components. When prioritizing portfolio assistance, it’s important to dedicate time to companies that need it most. Set goals on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis and make sure there is good communication between the portfolio and your team to determine where your priorities lie within the platform.
Many thanks to the VC Platform Community board and executive team for another great event in New York. We enjoyed getting to collaborate with peers from firms of all sizes and share more about what we’re working on at M25. Looking forward to the next 2024 Summit!