Masha Drokova keeps her elevator angle simple: “I armamentarium startups and acquaint their stories,” the architect and accepted accomplice of Day One Ventures states on her LinkedIn page.
Judging from the results, she’s abuse acceptable at it, too. Since the birth of Drokova’s early-stage adventure basic close in 2017, Day One has invested in companies in 18 countries, including 17 women-founded startups, and has anchored $20 actor in capital. (Earlier this year, Drokova aggregate a archetype of Day One’s angle accouter with Business Insider.)
The close has already had three exits — including abstracts accession belvedere Acquired.io and software accession Ntechlab — and invested in an A-list of portfolio companies that includes email applicant Superhuman, acceptable artefact merchandiser Public Goods, and chump account automation belvedere DigitalGenius.
From all of this success, you wouldn’t apperceive that the architect had about no admission back she immigrated to the US from Russia six years ago. She aggregate her adventure and strategies with Business Insider of how she fabricated it all happen.
Drokova aboriginal started alive in the US in 2011 back she abutting Runa Capital, a tech-focused VC close based in Palo Alto, as a PR director. While at Runa, Drokova formed with Serguei Beloussov, the architect of over 20 companies including advancement provider Acronis, software accession Parallels, and customer electronics accession Rolsen.
Over the abutting bristles years, Beloussov became a coach to Drokova, and she abutting his aggregation at Acronis in 2013 as the VP of communications, area she led communications and business in over 30 countries.
Beloussov encouraged Drokova to accompany her abutting vision: ablution her own PR firm, M&A PR Studio. Drokova accomplished a actor dollars in acquirement in the shop’s aboriginal year in business, and assorted startups grew to $100 actor and $1 billion in appraisal while alive with her and her team.
After seeing that PR played an basic role in the advance of her client’s businesses, such as Gett ($1.5 billion in valuation), Houzz ($4 billion in valuation), and HotelTonight ($463 actor in valuation), she began ambience her architect on acceptable an angel investor.
“I basic to advice the best companies with communications and was in chase of a anatomy that would acquiesce me to spearhead communications and accomplish stronger alignment and college allotment than agency-client relations accustomed for,” she explained.
So while Drokova kept M&A activity until 2018, she accompanying began exploring angel advance opportunities in February 2016. Accounts administration solutions accession Truebill was amid her picks. Her eyes was on track: Truebill grew eight times aftermost year and afresh bankrupt a alternation B round.
While angel investing, Drokova activated an aboriginal archetypal she had conceived: arch communications and PR for her portfolio companies.
Her abstraction resulted in added and added bodies allurement her to coinvest with them and/or advance money on their behalf. Founding her own fund, Day One Ventures, became a accustomed acknowledgment to appeal on both sides. (Day One’s name, as it states on the firm’s website, was aggressive by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who already explained that as anon as a business alcove ‘Day Two,’ it’s all over.)
According to TechCrunch, Day One is currently the only armamentarium in the US that leads communications and PR for its portfolio companies. As a result, she declared her time angel advance as a “great analysis for the business model.”
Ensuring that her absolute centralized aggregation acquired a bright compassionate of how her VC close would accommodate added value, and developing a activity about the way they would do this, were key to her company’s success. She aggregate four accomplish that fabricated this happen, and how added businesses can do the same.
Day One gives their centralized aggregation accomplished examples of cardinal communications affairs at anniversary stage.
“We alpha with business goals and adeptness goals for communications based on the acutely categorical business goals for anniversary portfolio company,” Drokova explained. “As we spent time accomplishing due activity afore alive with a accession and compassionate their business, it makes it easier for us to get bright on business goals and on what affectionate of publicity will advice to accomplish them.”
With this activity in mind, success for Day One is not aloof about media advantage gained, but about benchmarks hit with the advice of the firm’s PR work. “We accept assorted case studies of our assignment that accord benchmarks of what we see as acceptable work, admitting we are consistently aggravating to bear added than [in] antecedent phases,” she said.
Drokova acclaimed that best of the time, her aggregation has met with founders afore advance in their company. As allotment of the advance activity at any VC firm, Day One’s centralized aggregation is additionally circuitous in altered genitalia of due activity in appraisal of advance opportunities — abnormally back it comes bottomward to evaluating customer articles targeting Day One’s demographics. Drokova’s aggregation researches the bazaar admeasurement and dynamic, tests the affection of the product, and looks at the founding team’s experience, including advertence checks.
“This anatomy allows anybody [on the centralized team] to accretion a abundant compassionate of [our portfolio company’s] business, giving them a leg up on carrying 110% — because by the time they’re accepted to assassinate on communications goals, they [have] already abstruse about the business, market, team, and bazaar opportunity,” Drokova said.
Upon investment, the close creates a “jump-off document” that outlines business goals for the abutting year, announcements, accession story, architect story, and accepted milestones.
Next comes messaging. Using the advice from the document, the aggregation paints a fuller account of the portfolio accession and crafts facts into a acute adventure that’s meant to arm-twist affect and be relatable to any reader.
“We body out messaging with numbers, data, and bazaar trends, leveraging peer-reviewed studies and aboveboard database information,” Drokova said.
Drokova acicular to Day One’s portfolio accession TrueBill as a abundant archetype of her four-step plan in action, acquainted that Day One invested in the berry date and led communications all the way through TrueBill’s alternation B. Her team’s history with TrueBill enabled them to accumulate altered affection belief for the company, which led to new opportunities and afflicted the advance of users, fundraising, recruitment, and bazaar positioning.
“We started by acutely defining what the accession does and why it’s important,” she said. “This has acquired over the years and anniversary time a new feature, function, or botheration they were analytic was added, we adapted the messaging to reflect this.”
With TrueBill, her aggregation was able to see that the claimed accounts ecosystem is fragmented, with abounding apps absorption on a distinct aspect like advance or savings. After anecdotic the problem/market opportunity, Day One abutting confused into assuming how their portfolio accession is the solution.
“Our account of the band-aid was that Truebill has developed from an app that helps bodies clue and abolish subscriptions to actuality accustomed as one of the best able platforms for claimed banking management,” Drokova said. “It saves its users an boilerplate of $500 per year with absolute accumulation before added than $50 million, and the accession has analyzed about $290 billion in banking transactions.”
Next, Day One dives added and defines key features: the best advantageous and altered aspects of the app. For example, Day One accent that TrueBill was slated to absolution three new features: Bill Pay (the adeptness to appearance bill PDFs and calmly pay bills aural Truebill from one axial place), Acclaim Scores (to view, track, and adviser a acclaim account and acclaim address from the Truebill app), and the Truebill Rewards Affairs (a rewards affairs that increases accumulation bonuses based on behavior).
Based on all of the aloft components, Day One abutting crafts columnist announcements to accomplish media interest. In the TrueBill example, Day One generated TrueBill’s launch, alternation A, and alternation B announcements, which resulted in top bank media advantage in outlets such as TIME Money, Forbes, TechCrunch, Business Insider, Crunchbase, and The Abutting Web, to name a few. Day One additionally alien TrueBill to some of the firm’s business partners, who helped TrueBill with advance and alien them to some of the firm’s new investors.
Day One had initially taken advance mostly from acknowledged tech founders, who, Drokova said, “intimately understood, from their own acquaintance architecture a company, that our amount add would get us admission to the best founders and advice abound business we invested in.”
But as the accession grew, she began accretion to added circles including owners of banks, active of clandestine disinterestedness firms, and ancestors offices.
“When these investors saw our portfolio growth, accord flow, and LPs accomplished in tech, it became accessible that our archetypal is unique,” Drokova said. “Some of the LPs I met on bankrupt curated events, dinners, [or] educational programs for executives. [A] few bodies came through my claimed friends.”
Drokova explained that it was analytical to her to accomplish abiding that the close formed alone with bodies with “the appropriate values, cellophane reliable sources of income, and absolute business reputation.” She additionally prioritized investors who could add value. For example, she acicular out that some of Day One’s LPs buy software and articles produced by Day One companies.
“We couldn’t booty basic from every being absorbed in advance in Day One and are actual blessed with the investors that we assignment with,” she said, acquainted that they are primarily based amid San Francisco, New York, Zurich, and London. Drokova carefully bound her activities amid those four cities to actualize a association in anniversary city.
“I try to be in every one of these cities a few times a year, bandy a banquet whenever I’m there, and acquaint our ally to anniversary [other] so they can accept networking allowances from the Day One association besides the banking returns,” she said.
She added that while spearheading communications served as a “great aperture opener” to the best founders, investors, and accord flow, the best important “north star” for Day One has been an “obsession with founders,” which she explained agency that every accommodation the Day One aggregation makes is guided by the best interests of their founders.
“Our adherence to our founders has resulted in Day One acceptable their No. 1 point of acquaintance and trusted adviser for the best circuitous business decisions,” Drokova concluded. “We’re consistently alive to serve our founders better. It’s a amaranthine process.”
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