How to communicate your impact as a platform professional

A question that so often plagues us VC platform folks is how to communicate the impact of our role. In a profession with no standardized KPIs and a host of stakeholders, it can be a struggle to convey success effectively.

But before we discuss how platform professionals should communicate success, we need to zoom out and understand what 'success' means:

As I've stated in previous articles, the primary goal of platform is to help generate superior financial returns for our limited partners. The platform role has proven to have this impact, as shown in an extensive research report that I helped publish last year with my co-author Dale Chang for the VC Platform.

The Power of Platform Report provided a data-driven analysis to show that funds with larger platform teams correlate with outsized fund returns.

Generating returns in VC is a long road, and to accurately measuring this takes 10-plus years. But this should not deter high-performing platform teams from implementing periodic assessments to ensure they are on track.

For every initiative, event, customer introduction, or candidate outreach, it’s imperative to establish measurable and tactical KPIs that help sharpen your goals. There is no universal metric for the right KPIs, and debates over what constitutes a good NPS for a founder summit, or what newsletter open rate to aim for are endless. Instead, what truly matters is that you actively measure your efforts in the way that makes the most sense to you, ensuring that 1) your method aligns with your north star of generating outsized returns, and 2) you communicate your efforts effectively and strategically to your key stakeholders.

For this article I will discuss the four key stakeholders with whom we communicate our impact to and share how to effectively do that based on what they care about:

Taking a distinct approach to communicating impact with these four stakeholders proves a solid framework for developing your impact communication plan.

Communicating Impact to GPs

Regardless of your seniority or to whom you report, the GPs at your fund are your bosses, and communication is essential in any working relationship. 

This is even more crucial given the unique dynamics of the investor/platform relationship. Historically, the venture business operated in a leaner fashion, without the platform role assisting in value creation. As such, an unspoken reality of platform is that we must constantly prove our worth and proactively communicate why management fees should be allocated to our salaries and initiatives. When done correctly, your role is to ensure your GPs recognize that you provide leverage by executing top priorities aligned with the ultimate goal of driving fund returns, freeing them to focus on being a great investor.

How to communicate impact to GPs

The first step to any productive communication is understanding what your audience cares about. 

Your GPs do not care about your email open rate, the number of posts in your founder Slack community, or how many candidate interviews you conducted last week; they care about how your work will lead to fund returns. They want to know how platform initiatives are driving revenue for portfolio companies, supporting executive teams with critical hires, helping CEOs secure future financing, and driving efficiency for the investment team.

For example:

You just launched a new newsletter for your fund focused on foodtech. Here's what a platform professional might want to share with their GPs, though it may not be the most effective communication strategy:

Our new foodtech newsletter is a hit! In the first 3 publications, we gathered 9,302 subscribers from 14 countries. The click-through rate is 42.5% and 12% of our subscribers came from organic sources. We've had 20 influencers promote it on LinkedIn and X which has led to 32,000+ impressions.

Instead, you want to communicate impact in a way that aligns with your GP’s priorities.  Here’s a framework to do this effectively:

Here is an example of how this might sound in practice:

Our new foodtech newsletter has shown promising results aligned with our long-term objective of sourcing opportunities in the foodtech sector. In the short term, we've achieved high email open rates, influencer promotion, over 32,000 impressions, and we’ve already seen five high-quality inbound deals as a result.

To what end?

Framing your impact in terms of how it drives your GPs' priorities is the most effective way to demonstrate that you are indispensable to your fund. It is this approach that has the highest chance of leading to growth in your role, a promotion, substantive carry in your fund, and being seen as a partner within your firm.

Communicating Impact to LPs and Potential LPs

Many platform professionals work at funds with savvy LPs who have significant exposure to the venture asset class. These LPs are seeing similar platform initiatives from countless funds every day. Whether you are communicating with an LP already invested in your fund or one considering an investment, it is important to ensure that what you're sharing is differentiated, and of tangible value.

How to communicate with LPs

When communicating your impact as a platform professional to LPs, the focus should be on proving that your fund is a uniquely positioned steward of their capital. Demonstrating differentiation and a thoughtful strategy will show that your fund stands above the crowd and is poised to deliver outsized returns on their investment.

For example:

You hosted your annual founder summit and want to share the success with your LPs. Here's what a platform professional might want to communicate, though it may not be the most effective communication strategy:

We just successfully executed a high-end annual founders summit at one of Napa Valley's most pristine wineries. 90% of our portfolio founders attended, as well as dozens of corporate executives, for our three-day retreat with mindfulness sessions, nature walks, and, of course, premium wine tastings. Everyone left refreshed and said it was one of the best summits they'd ever attended, we received an NPS of 85!

While this may sound impressive, it does not convey what you achieved from this gathering that positions your fund as a unique steward of their capital. In fact, for some more conservative LPs, the way you have phrased this could be seen as a waste of time and management fees.

Instead, you want to communicate impact in a way that aligns with your LPs priorities. Here’s a framework to do this effectively:

An example of how this might sound in practice:

We recently hosted a highly successful CEO-focused founder summit aimed at driving revenue growth and enhancing CEO leadership effectiveness. The majority of our portfolio CEOs were in attendance and shared feedback saying it was unlike any VC summit they’ve ever participated in and provided them with immediate value.  Specifically, the summit led to 50+ follow-up meetings between founders and potential customers, representing millions of dollars in new sales pipeline for our portfolio companies.

To what end?

Depending on the size, structure, and hierarchy of your fund, your interactions with your LPs will vary significantly.  Some platform folks may not even know who their LPs are and have very little interaction with them. Other platform professionals may engage with their LPs on a weekly basis and have their impact showcased over a 20-minute presentation at your annual AGM.  

For platform folks who have exposure to their LPs in one form or another, mastering this communication can have a significant impact on both your individual career and the longevity of your funds. 

Enhanced visibility among LPs solidifies your indispensability to your fund. On a larger scale, effectively communicating your successes can drive LPs to continue supporting your fund and consider larger allocations in the future.

Communicating Impact to Portfolio CEOs 

In many ways, CEOs are the most important stakeholders when it comes to showcasing your impact as a platform professional. The bottom line is that if your activities are not serving your portfolio companies, you are not focussing on the right activities. 

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to communicating with founders and executives is that their time is severely limited. They need to spend their resources and energy on their business, so distracting them with non-priority initiatives will hinder rather than advance your goals.

How to communicate with CEOs and potential CEOs 

Keeping their limited bandwidth front of mind, communication with CEOs or potential CEOs should always be short, sweet, and to the point: how have your platform initiatives affected their bottom line? How have you saved them time? Generated revenue? Hired talent for their team?

For example:

You just helped a founder with the PR strategy around their latest funding round. One approach to communicating your impact might look like this:

Our support in promoting your funding press release resulted in 17,000 impressions, and a 12% clickthrough rate, with 5% identified as executives in your target customer persona and potential future investors.

Instead, you want to communicate impact in a way that aligns with your CEO’s priorities. Here’s a framework to do this effectively:

An example of how this might sound in practice:

For your recent funding announcement we facilitated a crucial connection with a leading journalist in your industry, securing valuable PR coverage. This exposure is already attracting prospective investors, partners, and customers. Feedback from our peer VCs has been overwhelmingly positive and we’ve heard from top execs in your industry who are excited about what you’re building. Moreover, your Head of Sales directly attributes the featured article to successfully closing a new customer within the last few days. 

To what end?

For firms investing in larger companies (Series B to Growth Equity+), your platform initiatives may target individuals beyond the CEO and founders, such as the head of talent acquisition or product managers further down in the organization. While your advisory sessions, customer introductions, and events provide significant value to these individuals, the impact may not always be known to the CEO. For this reason, it's crucial to consistently communicate and remind the CEO of the value you bring to their company and the entire employee base.

Mastering communication with your portfolio executives to ensure they are plugged into the value you bring as their investors is beneficial for multiple reasons.

Not only does it set your fund up to receive generous follow-on allocation for those high-performing companies, but it also raises your fund’s standing among the wider founder community. You know you are communicating impact in the right way when you receive the coveted “investor shoutout” in your CEO’s monthly email update 😉.

Having founders sing your praises for the tangible impact you have had on their success is a sure way to cement your reputation as a fund (and individually as a platform professional).  

Communicating Impact to Yourself 

Last, but certainly not least, is how you measure and communicate your impact to yourself. 

Now this may sound fluffy and unnecessary, but having worked in a platform for a while, I know first-hand that the job is often a lonely and thankless one. Being singularly focused on quantitative KPIs to a wide range of high-expectation stakeholders can be demotivating. Especially when your north star, driving fund returns, feels like a distant beacon. 

How to communicate impact to yourself

There is no ‘right’ way to take stock of our impact, and I find that the best way is the way that personally motivates you, whatever that looks like.

For example, I know many platform professionals who keep some version of “😃 happy emails“ folder in their inbox to save recognition and thank you emails that make them smile. Whether it was from a CEO who thanked you for an introduction or an investor who acknowledged how wonderful of an event you organized, these qualitative pieces of feedback can help you keep your head up when it may feel that your measurable impact is so distant.

This type of feedback-tracking forces you to take a step back from NPS scores and look at the stories and sentiments of CEOs you have helped, GPs who have appreciated your impact, and LPs who have gone out of their way to comment on your work. 

To what end

This approach to impact measurement might not seem like it will directly lead to your next promotion or secure your firm's next investment, but satisfaction in one's roles drives better performance. 

Taking a step back and regularly asking ourselves, ‘Have I moved the needle?’ is a way to energize and motivate ourselves in a role that does not always come with instant results and will benefit you significantly in the long run.

Conclusion

Our guiding principle should always be fund returns, as they signify the ultimate measure of success in the business of VC. Yet communicating our impact as platform professionals along the way is an important piece of the puzzle for so many reasons. 

Not only does it prove the necessity of our role and our resources, but the act of effectively showing off our wins can meaningfully impact the overall success of our fund and our founders. 

In the hopes of empowering fellow platform folks to communicate their impact intentionally and effectively, I have created a worksheet to serve as a single tool for developing an impact communication strategy for any platform initiative.

VC Platform Impact Communication Worksheet100.94 KB • PDF File

Understanding who we are communicating to, and where their priorities lie is the key to effectively sharing your impact, be it with our GPs, LPs, founders, or ourselves.

This post is brought to you with the help of Yaffa Abadi of Abadi Brands, a premier personal branding firm for leading executives and VCs.

Join the conversation

or to participate.