January 30, 2024

Automated data-driven venture capital deal flow - From first ideas to two UVC Partners data products

In an era where data is a business currency, our latest interview with UVC Partners' Data Team offers a captivating look into the world of data-driven venture capital. Maria Poursaiadi dives deep with Dr. Daniel Reese, Head of the Data Team, and Noel Schwarz, a Junior Data Analyst, who are developing with their other team members innovative tools and processes for advancing UVC Partners through automated data processing. This discussion not only reveals the technical aspects but also illuminates the human stories behind the successful implementation of data-driven strategies in venture capital. Also, the interview provides insights into how UVC Partners is redefining the traditional VC approach.

Maria: Daniel, you're in charge of our Data Team. Why is it crucial to implement automated data processing to take a Venture Capital firm to the next level?  

Daniel: Automated data processing is transforming the VC landscape into a more efficient, insightful, and competitive field. This shift towards data-driven approaches enables VCs to enhance deal sourcing and screening, leveraging AI to identify early growth signs in companies. This strengthens the strategic decision making for the optimal timing for investments while being operationally more efficient. It's not about replacing the intuition of our investment team but to enrich the subjective startup impressions by incorporating more “non-biased” signals that support a more dynamic, inclusive, and effective decision making.

The venture capital industry, traditionally reliant on network referrals and inbound deal flow, is now increasingly moving towards outbound strategies and early tracking of high-potential startups. Implementing automated data processing is not just about keeping up with the current pace of the VC industry – it's about setting the stage for innovation and maintaining a leading edge.  

Maria: The project team has been around for about 1.5 years. What has happened since then?

Daniel: Since the inception of our Data Team, we've been operating with the agility and innovation-driven mindset of a startup within UVC Partners. We have standups to keep the team aligned, sprint planning to prioritize work, sprint reviews to assess progress, and sprint retrospectives to learn from each iteration. This is the foundation for the development of the two products we launched so far:

  • Tool for deal sourcing: We built the entire tech stack in-house and did not outsource any part of the development. First, we combined both internal and external data to ensure the information is both expansive and up to date. Then, the data is securely stored and managed, allowing for robust accessibility and manipulation. The core of the product lies in its automated processing pipeline, which cleanses, refines, and consolidates data to highlight viable investment opportunities, utilizing UVC Partners proprietary models to distill actionable insights. The process culminates in the generation of customized reports, tailored to the specific requirements of the UVC investment team. Meaning each advisor receives his/her tailored sourcing report.
  • Tool for enhancing team efficiency: We've also focused on empowering the investment team with tools that provide dynamic access to all internal UVC Partners data. These tools are designed to optimize the team's efficiency, enabling them to access real-time data and insights that support more informed decision-making. Here, we leverage ChatGPT to build our own uvcGPT.

Maria: Noel you are one of the youngest members of the Data Team; what were your tasks in this project?

Noel: My overarching task and objective was to help UVC Partners in their process to establish a data-driven VC approach internally best abolishing with data analysis and business intelligence. The initial project was to find a way to source and screen with data-driven principles at scale. This project turned out to be multi-faceted and we were able to produce multiple spin-off projects from the concept, which the Investment Team can now actively leverage.

Maria: You have a background in computer science and are currently investigating the correlation between business performance and the creation of business accelerators. What did you achieve in the Data Team and what did you learn?

Noel: Over a year ago, when I joined the Data Team, we were in the midst of laying the groundwork. It is cool to see the evolution from an initial foundational infrastructure to developing two fully functional products. These products have become essential tools for our investment team, significantly enhancing their operational efficiency and decision-making processes.

My time at UVC Partners, where I honed my skills in business intelligence and data analysis, was extremely helpful in my professional growth. I was given a lot of ownership which made me grow as a person and I feel self-assured in my capabilities since I contribute meaningfully to UVC Partners’ investment strategy. The professional experience I have gained has not only enhanced my technical abilities but also my understanding of the broader VC landscape.

Maria: Daniel, you, and your team have already implemented many processes at UVC Partners. What is different now than before, and can you give us some success figures?

Daniel: Absolutely. Deal sourcing: With regards to supporting our investment team with identifying promising startups, we can now tap onto a database of ~700k datapoints covering thousands of individual startups from the DACH region and UVC Partners sector focus. Those are monitored on a weekly basis and further startups are added continuously.

This impact on our actual deal processing is equally noteworthy. Since January 1, 2023, the Data Team has identified 400+ startups which have been subsequently evaluated in detail by the UVC investment team, reflecting a significant enhancement in the deal flow pipeline. On average, 23.4 new startups are sourced each week with the assistance of the UVC Partners database. Our approach benefits the team in two ways: It enriches the existing deal flow but also ensures a steady supply of new potential investment opportunities to assess.

Tools to enhance team efficiency: uvcGPT enhances UVC Partners' capabilities by interlinking all internal knowledge bases, including databases of startup metrics, historical pitch decks, and proprietary research. This integration allows for the cross-referencing of information, yielding a more comprehensive view of each investment opportunity.  

Moreover, uvcGPT is designed to leverage these internal data sources while enriching them with external information. It can systematically review public databases, news outlets, and industry reports to contextualize internal data with real-time market trends, competitor movements, and technological innovations. This dual approach of deepening the analysis with external data ensures that UVC Partners maintains a holistic and updated understanding of the market landscape.

Maria: Daniel, this sounds really like a groundbreaking approach for a VC. And you are surely very proud of your team and its achievements. What do you particularly enjoy about working together, and what have you been able to learn?

Daniel: Working with a team of young, driven students is a truly rewarding experience. Their boundless appetite for growth energizes our entire workspace. What I enjoy most is their thought leadership and the way they own their workstreams with such motivation and drive. They do not just complete tasks; they innovate and find solutions. On a practical level, collaborating with them has been a daily learning journey for me. I have gained insights into better coding practices, more robust infrastructure, and the development of more effective algorithms. Their fresh perspectives constantly push me to expand my own skill set and approach challenges in novel ways.

Maria: Thank you for these humble words, Daniel. Noel, will soon move on - What was special for you about working with the Data Team and UVC Partners?

Noel: What was special to me was that I had the flexibility to approach the projects in my own way without being micromanaged and the fact that I was able to present my own projects and initiatives - that way I really felt like having a direct impact with the projects I contributed to. I was not given “busy work” but rather projects that had the possibility of improving processes at UVC Partners - a possibility for me to leave a mark behind.  

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About Dr. Daniel Reese:  

Having lived, studied, and worked in 6 different countries, Daniel has always been driven by the desire to learn about and embrace new ideas. On a professional level, Daniel’s curiosity led him to work as a project leader in the LEAP business-building practice of McKinsey & Company, building innovative corporate B2B tech ventures. Hence, a broad range of entrepreneurial experiences has shaped Daniel’s understanding of technology and new business models. He applies those at UVC Partners, where he channels his curiosity toward supporting founders who build scalable companies that make a long-lasting impact. Daniel is an avid entrepreneurship scholar researching and publishing around founding teams: For his PhD he investigated the success of young tech companies and their founding teams at the University of Dortmund and as a visiting researcher at Stanford.  

About Noel Schwarz:  

Noel is currently pursuing his master's degree in management & technology at TU Munich with a focus on computer science. In his studies he is currently engaging himself in the areas of entrepreneurship and innovation as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning. As a member of UVC's Data Team, he has contributed to developing the concept of data-driven VC further at UVC Partners.

About Maria Poursaiadi

Maria Poursaiadi is the director of marketing and communications at UVC Partners. She is a passionate storyteller with more than 15 years of editorial experience. Her motto is "Understand, create, and inspire." In this way, she aims to take her readers and viewers on a journey and help them gain important insights. Especially when the topics involve a certain complexity, she feels challenged. Whether as a journalist, an opinion researcher, a PR consultant, a marketing manager, or a corporate spokesperson, she develops brands, makes their stories and achievements visible, and positions them in the business and public spheres.

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