Fireside Chat with AngelList Venture’s BizOps Lead Nigel Koh
AngelList Venture allows investors to invest deal-by-deal in world-changing startups. From Rolling Funds to Syndicates, Roll-Up Vehicles and more, AngelList has made it simple for Fund Managers to Set Up, Raise, and Deploy.
Fund Managers can streamline their fund with AngelList's best-in-class software and tools. In the meantime, AngelList Ops Teams (Compliance, Data, Etc.) are handling all the legal formation, capital calls, tax documents, and all the other back-office service your fund needs, no matter its size.
How do you organize Operations at AngelList today?
There are many ways to staff an operations team. At AngelList, we break down by stage of deal: there's a team for setting up an entity to close, executing the work itself (LPs, GPs, documents), and a team for after a deal closes (post-closed actions whether it's a new round of financing, exit, or anything in between).
What are you responsible for at AngelList Venture? How has it evolved?
I started off at AngelList doing financial operations. This involved managing anything and everything that happens with companies, such as the exits and distributions, and the processes that come with that.
I moved on to work on data-related items because I recognized a gap at the time. As is common in the early stages of a company, we didn’t have a data team. I started a data request board and was pulling together people’s data requests. It ballooned into something much bigger, and it became clear that we really needed to use the data we were pulling and get it back into the system.
"I wanted to help people understand where they should be looking for information and how they could harness the data to improve the business." - Nigel
With this realization, I worked with one of our data engineers to build a data stack, rolled out Metabase, and finally had a flurry of dashboards that informed us of every single product within the company and every single user flow. We got to the point where we had all this data, and I thought to myself: “What’s next? How can we can we use this to actually improve the efficiency of operation workflows?” And that is where BizOps comes in.
What was your focus when you launched BizOps?
I began leading the DRI’s trying to understand what are the team’s bottlenecks and how were they solving them. I worked cross-functionally with Engineering and Product to understand if they can build the solutions or implement something lightweight. In that respect, we realized we had to go the lightweight route, which is when we implemented Avenue.
Your role evolved from the data layer to the BizOps side. What were the biggest challenges your new team faced?
Our BizOps team has two primary goals: Looking at OKRs and KPIs to make sure they are being tracked correctly, and the second piece is working on the go-to-market strategy, pricing, and other higher-level work. The struggle operationally was that there were always so many moving parts, and so much of the work was manual. I knew we had to automate some of the processes.
How do you think about scaling an Operations team?
Operations teams often manage a lot of manual work that often goes untracked and is therefore difficult to quantify. For us, it was helpful to implement a tool like Avenue which lets us understand in more detail the activity of our operations team, how frequent certain problems occur, the SLAs of resolving them, and have a baseline to measure improvements over time.
What are you most excited for?
I’m very excited for AngelList Stack. It has a lot of potential. When you think about AngelList Venture, there are heavy operations there. The Stack side is purely software, so it’s almost fully automated.
Do you have advice for other Ops teams?
Documentation. When we started off, we had people who knew a lot of the process, but they didn’t have any of it documented. That person loses productivity because they are helping everyone, and it becomes a giant catch-up process.
I suggest stress-testing your documentation by giving a playbook to someone who doesn’t know the process and is seeing the guide for the first time. Then you’ll really know if you have documentation.
Finally, having some sort of cadence or check-in to make sure all the documentation is up-to-date and that the mechanics of the operation are still going smoothly is the final piece.
This post is part of Avenue's Fireside Chat Series.