Tricks of the Trade

Just want to share best practices and hear what other people do to be more efficient.

I'm wrapping up 1st year associate in middle-market growth equity shop...

PortCos

  • Keep a folder for each portco in outlook where I save all correspondence
  • Save all files received from each portco in specific folder on the drive (and copies of important docs on my desktop)
  • Run daily news screens for each portco sector to stay on top of everything (google actually pretty good for this)

Research / outreach

  • Use mainly CapIQ and google, but also use BamSEC for public cos
  • Salesforce to track outreach... (kind of hate this, but it's our system)

Miscellaneous

  • Recently discovered www.Logointern.com for logo slides / industry landscapes (1 of our partners LOVES industry landscapes for new companies)

Comments (92)

Mar 22, 2017

Always interesting to see what other people are doing. Totally agree with the daily industry alerts. I always set a bunch of google alerts for industry activity and just set it for the mornings so that I would get an info dump for when I got in. Nice to be the one on a deal team to circulate something pertinent.

On the sourcing front, I found that having a bare bones excel file was the best way to consolidate contact info of companies when crushing outreach. Just a quick file with columns for company name, website, contact info and result of the outreach made it so that I didn't waste time taking down too much info when most outreach yielded no response.

Always hyperlink the company name to your CRM so that you can log activity and more detailed notes as you gain traction.

This website (http://mailtester.com/testmail.php) was also a godsend when trying to figure out if I had the right email for an exec. Massive waste of time just trying to guess at someone's email....

Does it go without saying that you should download the FactSet or CapIQ plugins for excel Day 1 too?

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Mar 22, 2017

I actually don't love those plugins - we use CapIQ, but try to avoid them as much as possible. Thanks for the tip on email testing!

Mar 23, 2017

Anyone else??

Mar 31, 2017

What do you all use to keep up to date with the industries of your portfolio companies? Right now, I am using CapIQ alerts as my main source, but I'm also looking for better options.

Mar 31, 2017

I honestly just use google alerts and will opportunistically subscribe to newsletters for that industry (can't always find one)

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Aug 3, 2018

Finding the correct email address is such a pain. Reaching out to corpdev guys / CFOs at random cos you've never heard of is the bane of my existence

Would be interested if anyone has other suggestions / tips for doing this more efficiently

Jan 2, 2019

manta is also good for exec emails on LMM

Mar 23, 2017

It's really dumb in hindsight, but I didn't think of having a to-do list outline in Excel, grouped by deal/portco, until nearly the end of year 1 as an associate. So much better than paper lists or trying to remember everything.

The organizational stuff is huge - piles of paper for every portco, a foolproof electronic filing system.

I also think having a routine is huge - I get to work the same time every day, have a coffee and eat a clif bar, spend 20 minutes on industry newsletters, WSJ, and the daily news screen. Gets the easy stuff out of the way, but you feel like you're being productive, and if something hit the fan overnight, you know first thing.

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Mar 23, 2017
petergibbons:

It's really dumb in hindsight, but I didn't think of having a to-do list outline in Excel, grouped by deal/portco, until nearly the end of year 1 as an associate. So much better than paper lists or trying to remember everything.

The organizational stuff is huge - piles of paper for every portco, a foolproof electronic filing system.

I also think having a routine is huge - I get to work the same time every day, have a coffee and eat a clif bar, spend 20 minutes on industry newsletters, WSJ, and the daily news screen. Gets the easy stuff out of the way, but you feel like you're being productive, and if something hit the fan overnight, you know first thing.

Yep, this is huge

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Best Response
Mar 24, 2017
petergibbons:

It's really dumb in hindsight, but I didn't think of having a to-do list outline in Excel, grouped by deal/portco, until nearly the end of year 1 as an associate. So much better than paper lists or trying to remember everything.

The organizational stuff is huge - piles of paper for every portco, a foolproof electronic filing system.

I also think having a routine is huge - I get to work the same time every day, have a coffee and eat a clif bar, spend 20 minutes on industry newsletters, WSJ, and the daily news screen. Gets the easy stuff out of the way, but you feel like you're being productive, and if something hit the fan overnight, you know first thing.

Pro tip - change the Cliff bar for something else. I used to do the same until I realised that it is the equivalent of eating a snickers bar. Now I eat Pure Protein bars from Costco, they have more protein, and almost no sugar and are at approximately the same price point (18 bars for 20$).

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Mar 27, 2017
takenotes08:

petergibbons:It's really dumb in hindsight, but I didn't think of having a to-do list outline in Excel, grouped by deal/portco, until nearly the end of year 1 as an associate. So much better than paper lists or trying to remember everything.The organizational stuff is huge - piles of paper for every portco, a foolproof electronic filing system.I also think having a routine is huge - I get to work the same time every day, have a coffee and eat a clif bar, spend 20 minutes on industry newsletters, WSJ, and the daily news screen. Gets the easy stuff out of the way, but you feel like you're being productive, and if something hit the fan overnight, you know first thing.

Pro tip - change the Cliff bar for something else. I used to do the same until I realised that it is the equivalent of eating a snickers bar. Now I eat Pure Protein bars from Costco, they have more protein, and almost no sugar and are at approximately the same price point (18 bars for 20$).

I like the Quest bars, not sure how they stack up against yours

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Jul 31, 2017

Pure Protein ftw. This is what I keep

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Feb 2, 2018

Excel to-do's by PortCo & Deal = great idea. Anyone have an example template they can share?

Mar 24, 2017

Yay bamsec. Logointern seems neat. Thanks for the post.

Mar 24, 2017

What's the pricing for logointern?

Mar 24, 2017

Free

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Mar 24, 2017

Contactout extension in LinkedIn for emails. Windscribe VPN to use WSO on work PC.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

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Mar 24, 2017

I scan all call notes - I find it easier to quickly find/reread when grouped in a folder as opposed to a note book.

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Mar 24, 2017
babymonkey357:

Just want to share best practices and hear what other people do to be more efficient.I'm wrapping up 1st year associate in middle-market growth equity shop...PortCosKeep a folder for each portco in outlook where I save all correspondenceSave all files received from each portco in specific folder on the drive (and copies of important docs on my desktop)Run daily news screens for each portco sector to stay on top of everything (google actually pretty good for this)Research / outreachUse mainly CapIQ and google, but also use BamSEC for public cosSalesforce to track outreach... (kind of hate this, but it's our system)MiscellaneousRecently discovered www.Logointern.com for logo slides / industry landscapes (1 of our partners LOVES industry landscapes for new companies)

If you dont mind me asking, how do you use google to run daily news screen on an industry?

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Mar 24, 2017
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Mar 26, 2017

Was wondering the same thing. Setting some up as we speak. Good info babymonkey!!!

Mar 24, 2017

Thanks for sharing, especially Logointern!
Perhaps more of a best practice: Annotate your hardplugs (including sums of hardplugs) in Excel with the source and any explanatory comment. It's a pain and takes up a good bit of time, but having a reference to where the number came from, especially if the file will be used by others, is essential. Also spelling out any comment on why numbers jumped in any given year will help you remember so much more than just reading them in the annual report and will make you look good when you're showing your work to your superiors. "Why did the margin drop in '14?" "The company closed their XYZ business / hired X staff / invested $X in ABC"

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Mar 25, 2017

https://www.skrapp.io to guess emails from linkedin profiles and rapportive plugin to verify them in gmail

I also practice yesterbox (www.yesterbox.com) to limit email distractions while still not dropping the ball on anything.

Waybackmachine to get the history of a firm or find contact info that used to be visible on their website.

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Mar 31, 2017

I use Rapportive more than any other method for email verification. It's always surprising to me that LinkedIn allows email verification so easily.

Mar 26, 2017

Wow...this is an amazing thread. It's very helpful even for corp dev. Thanks.

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Funniest
Mar 27, 2017

I keep a fleshlight in my desk, serves as a stress buster and it never complains!

Get busy living or get busy dying.

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Mar 27, 2017

keep a nail clipper in your desk. you never know when you have to jump out to meet with someone, whether be potential LP, co-investor, or even banker. First impression plays a large role in our business!

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Mar 27, 2017

Only if you go to the restroom to clip your nails. Or at the very least over a trash can. I cannot stand seeing people clip their nails in a public place - subway, restaurant, bus, office, etc. Idk what it is, perhaps I'm the weird one, but it's freaking gross.

Apr 1, 2017

I don't think you're the weird one. I once had a client who use to clip her fingernails AND toenails (she would wear open-toe shoes) in meetings - mostly the ones she organized and filled up with consultants who reported to her. it was unbearable and my entire team agreed it was gross. also incredible distracting to see her round up her nails on the edge of the table while opining on some topic.

Mar 27, 2017

A couple of free resources I use during different projects:

  • For consumer focused companies, using online trend monitoring websites (e.g, Google Trends, Twitter, Alexa, etc.).
  • For diligence purposes, I use LinkedIn and Indeed to evaluate job openings at targets to ensure that the earnings are based off a full team. This is particularly helpful if G&A or HC has remained flat in recent months or years.
  • Also helpful are government websites (BLS, DOT, etc.) for monthly, quarterly, and annual reports.
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Mar 28, 2017

Yeah Alexa's pretty cool - but wish it were still free. We also use linkedin to evaluate number of employees, employee vacancies, etc.

Jul 31, 2017

Buddy sent me this this site this AM: https://www.similarweb.com
Seems pretty nifty for comparing web-based businesses

Mar 31, 2017

A friend turned me onto this recently: when sourcing or conducting product / market diligence conversations, you often get good unexpected leads by asking "Is there anyone else you think [I/we] should reach out to?"

Got 1 promising lead today.

Aug 2, 2017

Ive been doing some sourcing nonsense recently, and find myself using linkedin the most. Tried this tactic and got a couple additional leads.

Mar 31, 2017

If you are ever working with a dataset that you reference in a presentation/memo/etc, keep a copy of that dataset in the same place as the presentation. Someone will come back to you in six months asking where that number came from and you will be scrambling to find it again (especially if it's something you worked out yourself). Ties into the annotation comment above.

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Mar 31, 2017

Another free resource that's really helpful is Rocket Financial. 20 yrs of financial data, SEC filings, news, alerts, institutional ownership, insider transactions, etc.

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Apr 2, 2017

Issue trackers in Excel. Columns: Unique Identifier, Status (open/closed), Open date, Issue, H/M/L priority, Related Risk, Remediation, Solved by/how/impact/etc., Close Date. Has saved my skin multiple times.

Excel 'toolboxes' designed to perform specific functions to compliment day-to-day work. 1) Have a model utilizing Black/Scholes for things like beta of risky debt, real option (invest now v. wait 6 months), and other things that require Black/Scholes. 2) Dashboard (no VBA): 3 tabs, tab 1: the user interface aka dashboard made up of graphs and distributions, tab 2: the pivots driving the dashboard, and tab 3: where the flat file goes. 3) credit tests (e.g. altman's z-score) and quality of earnings tests ready to go.

Oracle Crystal Ball plug in for easy Monte Carlo and great probability distribution outputs. Great tool.

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Apr 3, 2017

I wouldn't use these in my job, but these sound cool and I want to try them. +1 SB

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Jul 27, 2017

We were thinking of doing a basic Monte Carlo for a natural resources asset - is Crystal Ball overkill?

Apr 4, 2017

Any other tips for origination and sourcing with regards to finding email addresses/phone number would be helpful. I'm a bit weary of linkedin (or linkedin based programs to extract emails etc) because I dont want my profile being seen on other peoples profiles.

Apr 4, 2017

Buddy was telling me about hunter.io recently, but I haven't used it.

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Apr 4, 2017

There's also apps in CRMs like data.com in Salesforce that are helpful or good ole http://www.guesser.email/

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Apr 6, 2017

Been getting some email contacts and company websites off of tradeshow websites (list of sponsors / attendees) - great way to find lists of companies that play in a particular niche.

My VP and I stumbled across a few of these trying to find all the players in a particularly fragmented vertical

Feb 9, 2018

I have also had good luck with RocketReach

Jul 31, 2017
  • Will absolutely echo using folders for each portco. Additionally, I create a folder in Outlook for each deal in the pipeline after it reaches a certain "stage" for us (when we want to do an IOI-stage valuation). I'd add that generally creating folders in Outlook for all sorts of activities (e.g., Processes, IT, portcos, deals, Prof. Development, Articles, etc.) is very useful
  • Keep protein bars, caffeine pills, and Tylenol/alternative in your desk
  • Have some method of increasing your focus. I like to use brain.fm or sometimes just listening to music on my phone works
  • My firm uses OneNote for meetings notes and other things a lot, and I keep a personal folder on there for my own To Do list. Even adding the smallest things that come up, as soon as they come up (like following up with a banker to let them know you're passing on a deal), helps tremendously with not letting anything fall off your radar
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Sep 28, 2017

What's the website for creating maps? Googled Mapping Intern - but didn't find the website I was looking for.

Sep 28, 2017

MappingIntern.com - I'm waiting to get beta access though.

Sep 28, 2017

Thanks!

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Feb 5, 2018

I've tried MapChart for maps. 100% free, but the maps you download have their logo on a corner.

Mar 3, 2018

And it's all one static image which is garbage. Mapping intern at least delivers everything as separate PPT objects

Feb 3, 2018

Trello is a pretty easy to use website/app that I have started using to keep tabs on different projects. I used to share a page with my manager which is how we managed workflow and keep each other up to date, but I also had my own page for outside projects & personal use. Fairly basic but effective nonetheless.

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Mar 3, 2018

I've used trello and I like it. Started using it for todolist on recent project

Mar 3, 2018

+SB for the awesome name @ShelbyCompanyLimited

Nov 12, 2018

Ive been using trello as well for my personal to do checklist. Transitioned from paper notebook this summer for most stuff, and been liking it so far

Mar 7, 2018

Always keep the essentials in your drawers under your desk. Razor, shaving foam, tooth brush, tooth paste, anti-perspirant. Sometime all nighters catch you off guard.

Apr 16, 2018

And the tide stain eraser pen. Must have.

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Mar 10, 2018

RE: to-do lists --- Asana is much better and free. I'd recommend that > Excel.

Apr 16, 2018

I'm a night time person and would often be sleepy during the day, wide eye awake from 10pm to 2am. I spent many nights spent lying in the dark wanting to get to sleep.

One thing that helped me was doing a lot of exercise. Whether it was burning more calories, re-centering my daily peak activity/energy levels or whatever else, I found it easier and easier to get to sleep earlier.

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Apr 16, 2018

Might be a silly question, but do you workout early in the morning then?

Apr 16, 2018

SB +1 on the exercise idea. I find working out about 2-4 hours after waking up allows me to go to bed at a more reasonable time later at night. (Total night owl here).

Also SUPER helpful to limit the Netflix / phone activity before bed. I've found these are some things that make my brain start running for hours and don't let me sleep.

...

Apr 16, 2018

Try taking melatonin and magnesium supplements roughly 15-25 min before sleep, it should help keep you asleep.

Diet/caffeine-wise maybe don't drink coffee after roughly 6 PM or so? It's helped me in the past.

Apr 16, 2018

Awesome feedback guys, thank you.

Apr 16, 2018

melatonin, start with the smallest dose possible (1mg) and move up as needed (max 3mg), has worked well for me for 10 years

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Apr 16, 2018

With your workouts try not to do them within 4-5 hours of bed. Also I found listening to white noise type music calmed the mind (specifically rainfall).

Apr 16, 2018

Melatonin is fantastic for this. I personally found I needed to drink a lot of coffee later at night to power through, but mediating for a few minutes and taking a melatonin normally knocked me out quickly.

Apr 16, 2018

Had exact same problems and then some for nearly all my life, used to be an extreme night owl and the quality of sleep just sucked.

What helped was forcing myself into a routine of going to sleep and waking up at the exact same times, even on the weekends (when I used to go to bed at 4 AM and sleep way past noon). I've been going to bed at 1 AM sharp and getting up at 8.30 (I live two blocks from the office) for the past few months, and I feel much better.

May 8, 2018

I had to follow a similar regime to turn my sleep schedule around

Apr 16, 2018

What are you doing in the ~2 or so hours before you sleep?

Apr 16, 2018

Try to keep a steady sleep schedule if you can. If you tend to stay up later than you normally do on weekends and sleep in, then you simply won't be tired enough to fall asleep at your normal time the next day.

Fapping works well too due to the melatonin release.

Apr 16, 2018

With that kind of sleeping pattern I assume you are under severe stress or worried about
something?

Apr 16, 2018

So, first, put the phone down. Seriously. So many studies about how the light fucks with your brain and doesn't let you sleep.

Second, have you been checked for sleep apnea? Really, look into it. Sounds like you're having similar issues to what I had a while back, turned out I have sleep apnea. It'll kill you, long term. Basically you stop breathing in your sleep and snore a lot otherwise. Not everyone snores though, it's a really weird disorder. If you've ever woken up coughing/choking, do not pass go and go directly to the doctor.

Apr 16, 2018

F.lux and Twilight are great apps (for desktop or phone) that will change the light on your screens, and will help you a lot to fall asleep after late night screen exposure.

Apr 16, 2018

I listen to podcasts and audiobooks to help get to sleep. It helps switch off the "monkey mind" that would leave me otherwise overthinking about stuff and unable to switch off.

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Jan 16, 2019

+SB for the monkey mind

Apr 16, 2018

Sleep apnea. Try recording your sleep hours with one of those apnea apps.

Apr 16, 2018

Thanks again guys, gonna get checked for apnea soon.

Apr 16, 2018
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