Sean Jacobsohn (@sjacobsohn) is a Venture Partner with Emergence Capital, a leading venture capital firm focused on cloud applications. Before Emergence, Sean was an executive at Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD), HighTail, and WageWorks (WAGE). Salesforce, InsideView, Box, Yammer, CoTap, and Hightail are among Emergence’s investments and tools Sean and his team use regularly.
I’m often asked which cloud solutions I use day to day in my role as an early stage investor. The solutions tend to fall into three activity categories: meeting companies, performing due diligence and supporting investments.
Getting to Know You
Once I get introduced to an entrepreneur, my first step is to enter the contact details in Salesforce. I’ve now used Salesforce at 5 companies since 1999. Salesforce is my primary means of accessing contact details, tracking the stage of the discussions, and collaborating with my team on all the information we have about a company. I use it to set up follow-up tasks and track call notes directly into each contact’s record.
At Emergence, we integrate InsideView into Salesforce. For both potential and actual investments, InsideView gives us a real-time snapshot across a myriad of data sources, so we can keep track of the latest news and information for each company.
In first calls with entrepreneurs I’ve had the opportunity to work with a range of presentation tools, e.g. Webex, Skype, GotoMeeting, etc. However, my favorite presentation tool is Clearslide. Not only does it allow for a great experience during the meeting, but I can also easily reference the materials after the meeting, share with my team, and know that the most recent materials will be updated in Clearslide. For the video component, FuzeBox and Zoom are great tools to personalize meetings. Although PowerPoint tends to be the presentation standard, Prezi is a great cloud-based alternative to express ideas and keep the audience engaged. My meeting notes are recorded directly into Salesforce.
After the initial meeting, I’ll start receiving documents from the company. To keep these together and easily accessible, I store them on Box. Box is also integrated into Salesforce, so that each document is automatically associated with the relevant account.
If the company looks like a good fit for the Emergence portfolio, I’ll want to discuss the new opportunity with the rest of my team. I’ll add that company to our investment team agenda on Yammer. We also use Yammer’s newsfeed feature for sharing news articles or industry learning relevant to potential or current investments.
Moving Through the Diligence Process
After my initial meetings, I will invite other members of my team to participate. As we head to the meeting, I use CoTap for sharing last minute information about the company we are about to meet. The application gives us real-time messaging capability from our mobile devices directly to our team.
Back in the office, our team splits up due diligence tasks with the help of Asana. Each task is assigned (1) an owner within Emergence; (2) an owner at the company we’re evaluating; and (3) a due date.
From there, we begin creating company analyses (e.g. financials, market studies, competitive analyses, etc.) and uploading those to the Salesforce account record through Box. Members of the team can each review and edit those documents in the same folder.
If any of these large documents need to be signed or sent to others, I forward them through Hightail, a cloud-based service that is directly integrated to my Outlook account.
Supporting Portfolio Companies
Once a portfolio company has received funding from Emergence, we can help them with go-to-market strategy and execution, recruit talent, sharing best practices, and networking with peers. We also plan knowledge sharing events for our portfolio where entrepreneurs can network with their peers. These meetings are an integral part of building relationships in the business cloud ecosystem. I use Google Docs to collaborate on the invitation lists with my colleagues and to track RSVPs.
By leveraging the cloud, I can do my job from anywhere, collaborate more effectively with my team, and feel confident that I always have the most updated versions of all materials. Business cloud solutions save me time and effort, giving me more opportunities to meet great entrepreneurs and executives.