Aumni Spotlight: Cody Nevels, Director of Product Strategy, Data Modeling
Q: Could you share a little bit about your professional background and what led you to Aumni?
A: After graduating from law school, I started my legal career with a combination of child and family services law and criminal defense. About a year in, I decided to explore a different aspect of law. I joined a boutique law firm specializing in venture representation, a referral from Tony Lewis, who I met during college. I enjoyed that work immensely. A few years later, I was recruited by Tony to work in his new firm, Matterhorn, and not long after that, Tony and Kelsey (Chase) began exploring a new business idea.
Eighteen months later, they founded a company called LinkLegal, which ultimately transitioned into what we know and love today as Aumni. Due to my experience in both early-stage company and venture fund representation, Tony and Kelsey invited me to join Aumni permanently. I immediately accepted the offer because I believe in our mission to transform the dealmaking experience by providing a platform to store, analyze, report, and manage decisions regarding all aspects of investment assets in the private capital market.
Q: Could you tell us more about your role with Aumni?
A: My skill set lies in understanding the core nature of complex legal documents and breaking them down into their constituent parts. Early in my role as Director of Product Strategy, Data Modeling, I supervised the process of extracting data from our customers' executed legal documents, and have since shifted my focus to building future Aumni offerings.
My expertise lies in determining what information to collect and how it should be categorized. As Aumni developers generate the code that powers our product offerings, I work closely with the team to design our unique data model and blueprint its evolution. I bring this foundational expertise to our product development process, from strategy to iteration. For example, I identify a complex legal term and then work to structure how that specific language will exist and interact in our database as determined by the specific characteristics of those individual data points. Next, I collaborate with the product team to determine ways of displaying and visualizing that data to bring optimal clarity and insight to customers. In the final step, I ensure that the descriptions and use cases are properly articulated and easy to leverage when making decisions.
As Aumni integrates new legal document types from across the private capital ecosystem, I provide consistent leadership and an experienced perspective. We are streamlining data models and improving the presentation of insights shared across all fronts. Our work helps forge new ways of understanding and evaluating investments. It’s a huge privilege to provide much-needed accuracy and transparency to investors and founders alike.
Q: What have you enjoyed about the startup environment?
A: As one of the first employees at Aumni, I was fortunate to see the company develop from the ground up. It was inspiring to work with the founders to determine how to solve vexing problems for everyone that participates in venture capital. Everything was growing and changing rapidly; every day felt new. The team was small, but I knew everybody well. We’re all still here today, but I don’t get to work as closely with each of them the way I used to during those early days. It was quite memorable, as we were all wearing many hats, focused on executing in the present moment, yet looking ahead to the changes our momentum required each week.
The company has grown dramatically, which is super exciting, and I am honored to have seen it all first-hand. The current stage is even more rewarding for me, though – in fact, it’s the most fulfilling experience I've had in my professional career, hands down.
Q: What motivates you most about your work at Aumni?
A: The total addressable market for Aumni’s platform is what excites me most. Right now, we've focused almost exclusively on venture capital funds and their portfolio companies. However, there are segments across the private capital market that will be vastly improved by the data platform we’ve built at Aumni. As we process and validate a growing number of legal documents, our team grows, and we continue to seize opportunities to increase the number of asset classes that we serve. Each new customer and each new customer type joins our mission to transform the private capital market.
Q: What would you say makes Aumni's data model unique?
A: Our model thrives on creating efficiencies and unlocking insight found in the complexity of the legal documents and the dependencies inherent to the numerous investment rounds in venture capital. The structure that we've introduced to collect and analyze fundamentally unstructured financial transaction information that resides in legal documents -- which are, almost by design, impenetrable to a layperson -- is unprecedented. Our team has been able to organize that complexity and present the information with clarity. This is how Aumni customers are empowered to make data-driven decisions.
Q: Which of Aumni's four core values resonate most with you and why?
A: For me, it's definitely: “Be a force multiplier.” Business domain knowledge, technical knowledge, and product knowledge have limited value in silos. I appreciate Aumni's efforts to balance and spread those various knowledge types to every team member at the company. While I have subject matter expertise in a certain type of asset class in my particular field, I'm not traditionally a product-minded person, nor am I a developer. The way that we collaborate -- the product managers, subject matter experts, developers, architects, etc. – inspires me. We are all “force multipliers.” Our company believes in the power of shared knowledge. We believe in learning, in teaching, in challenging the status quo. It all leads to creating in collaboration, which makes the product and the experience much more valuable.
Q: What advice would you give to private capital market participants considering partnering with Aumni?
A: Every time we onboard a new customer, we are surprised to discover documents that don’t contain any information for one or more of their portfolio companies. Often, there are inconsistencies in reporting and material legal errors in executed contracts. The real issues surface when it’s too late: missing pieces come back to bite you at the worst possible time – e.g., when a lawyer during IPO or the acquisition stage detects the error in your documents -- it's going to be exponentially more expensive to resolve.
Aumni exists to prepare VCs to make the most of each transaction by tracking down all of the necessary documents and ensuring that the information is in optimal working order. Our customers are thrilled to see that they will not encounter these problems, nor the associated legal fees, down the road. Aumni works to make the private capital market more accurate and accessible for all parties. We are solely dedicated to that private capital market and we’re here to help.