Welcome to Automatter!

Let's zap our cognitive burdens

Venture capital and startup investing is not something you can learn from a book. It draws on so much tacit knowledge that the only surefire way to improve at it is to meet more founders, see more pitches, spend more time thinking about them, and make more investments. Or, to paraphrase Nikhil Basu Trivedi: Find -> Decide -> Win -> Help -> Exit (and repeat).

There’s long been tension in the practice of venture capital between the cognitive, creative, and generative work that is the core process of VC — the part that Nikhil laid out — and the layers upon layers of internal and external communications, company research, data gathering, basic portfolio and LP management, and other admin work that comprises the actual nuts and bolts of the job.

And yet many investors — particularly smaller firms that invest relatively early — spend virtually no time on internal process design and automation. And sure, venture investing is as much art as craft (to say nothing of science) and no two startups or investment processes are alike, but this is about more than writing down standard questions or a rubric to score investments. Those are basic steps. With a handful of simple tools, you can remove cognitive burdens you never knew were there, increase transparency and reliability in your internal communications, and spend more time getting in reps on the core process:

  1. Find great companies and meet their founders

  2. Conduct due diligence confidently and quickly and decide

  3. Win the privilege of investing

  4. Help your founders and portfolio companies — both proactively and reactively

  5. Exit at the right time and in the right way

On Automatter, we’re going to show you how to turn those nuts and bolts into reusable scaffolding.

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Here’s what we want to do here:

  • We’re starting with articles about process automation -- specifically, concrete guides with specific examples that you can use as inspiration for building better processes at your own firms.

  • We’ll ruminate on communication, cognitive burdens, decision-making, and more. We’re starting with a high-level focus on software and applications in venture capital but we may broaden over time.

  • We’ll analyze current events in automation. This might take the form of a regular news rundown covering developments in APIs, a deep dive into a company’s new or changing automation offerings -- hello Airtable! -- or even a review of companies trying to take your Command key to brave new places.

Here’s what we’d love from you:

  • Follow us on Twitter! Jeremy is @jer_diamond and Halle is @____hka.

  • Send us your tips and questions! Nothing is too small or too big! This space is crying out for regular Q&A. (Let us be your Dear Abbey. We can call it Dear Zippy.) And let us know what you think. Just hit reply here or tweet at us.

  • Subscribe! We’ll have more for you very soon.

Bonus process content:

^ Halle’s first sketch of an automation framework for VC