Q & A With Prologis Ventures
Pawan Murthy, Aumni’s Head of Marketing, connected with Breton Birkhofer, Principal at Prologis Ventures, to discuss how Aumni has become an invaluable platform for Prologis over the past couple of years.
Prologis is a corporate venture fund focused on the future of commerce backed by Prologis, the largest owner of logistics real estate globally.
Pawan Murthy: How has the investment landscape changed over the years as it pertains to data?
I think there are a couple of trends that have led to a heightened need for data analytics around investments. On one end you have a dramatic growth in the number of venture deals over the last decade or so. Certainly in recent years there are a lot more data points in venture investments being made available either on the free platforms or the paid platforms. That creates this opportunity to make more data driven decisions about where to invest and when to invest. There are already some VC funds out there that are very vocal about how they are embracing a data driven investing approach.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have VC funds continuing to manage data in excel and shared docs. I think there is huge potential for a lot of firms, including ourselves to invest more in the tech stack, automate the back office and put analytics in the hands of the investment team to make better decisions.
First and foremost there is the great opportunity to leverage data on our own portfolio to make better decisions on how we manage our portfolio and allocation. Over time I think there is an even bigger opportunity to leverage data on the broader landscape to make better decisions around new investments and use benchmarks to understand market terms, market valuations and to ensure our decisions are in line with that.
Pawan Murthy: What were one or two challenges your team faced that made you consider Aumni as a solution?
There were a few things that were pressing needs that pushed us to adopt Aumni and they were around the burden of data management and reporting on our portfolio. The point particularly for us came when we got around 15 or 16 portfolio companies. The manual processes we were running (the spreadsheets) fell apart, and we faced a few challenges:
- There were many inaccuracies in our data points such as information from the cap table or certain investor rights we were tracking out of the deal documents. It became hard to ensure all that data was accurate and consistent over time.
- Managing all the deal docs as we added more portfolio companies was a huge challenge.
- Making sure we had the final executed version of all the docs and that there were no errors in the final versions. This could create significant issues down the line.
Pawan Murthy: Was there an improvement in front and back office communication with Aumni?
There definitely was an improvement. The way we managed things before was in spreadsheets and email. There was a manual process to collect data and then get that into the inboxes of all the right stakeholders. Consequently, we experienced delays or had forgotten to email a certain person a certain piece of information. Then it's a scramble to go figure out where that data is located.
With Aumni, all of this was greatly improved. Now all of our stakeholders (the back office and the investment team) are all on the platform so they can quickly and easily get at any data they are looking for.
Pawan Murthy: Is there a feature or two that stands out as you use the Aumni platform?
We particularly love the ‘My Economics’ section and the ‘Legal terms’ section. Whether you are trying to model potential return outcomes, analyze a follow on deal with a portfolio company or research a specific question from a stakeholder, we found it was challenging to get those answers quickly with traditional methods. Sometimes we didn't have a specific data point in our tracker causing us to re-review the deal docs.
Now, everyone on the team has access to the same information in the Aumni dashboard. They can quickly check deal summaries pages or key deal terms. Anyone in our office can quickly get the data point they’re looking for and go on to make the decision they need to make.
Pawan Murthy: Would you recommend Aumni to other venture firms?
Absolutely, I would recommend Aumni. It has been a great tool for us because it has automated operational workflows. It has saved us a lot of time across the investment team and the back office. Aumni has helped clean up our deal docs, and it has helped us improve our reporting.