I listen to podcasts for all sorts of reasons—market updates, entertainment, and relaxation. Last year, my husband sent me an Invest Like the Best episode about a company that is transforming private investing through technology. He knew I’ve thought for years that this sort of change is long overdue in the industry. Neither of us knew, however, that this would be an introduction to my future employer.
So I listened to the episode, and talked about the company, CircleUp, with several LP contacts. Many of them joked they were surprised I didn’t already work there.
Months later, I was floored when CircleUp approached me with the opportunity to run its capital formation team. The role was a fantastic fit, as it married the two stages of my professional life—10 years in the quant space and 8 years in private equity.
When making career decisions, I look for three key pillars that align my professional interests and personal values:
1) An innovative approach based on transparency and edge.
2) A high-performing fund with processes that drive inclusionary outcomes.
3) A talented team that combines work ethic with empathy.
It’s rare to find a place that nails all three of these components. As I began digging in, I soon found that CircleUp checks each box.
Creating Transparency and Edge
I spent the first half of my career as a product specialist working on quantitative strategies. I saw firsthand the type of information advantage that a data-driven approach can provide. Quant investors can quickly distill a large universe of opportunities into a small list of attractive targets. The most successful investors are those who are best at aggregating information across multiple sources and utilizing that data effectively to separate the signal from the noise.
That approach contrasted with my experience as an investor relations professional in private equity. I found private investing to be opaque and extremely localized, which made decision making inefficient. It was nearly impossible to access the right types and quantities of data to make decisions with a high degree of objectivity.
CircleUp is fusing private equity and quant strategies in a way I’ve never seen before. Using Helio, its proprietary technology platform, CircleUp combines the best of both worlds to transform private investing processes that have remained unchanged for decades. CircleUp’s strategies rely on massive amounts of data to power investment decisions, helping to lower the risk of human error and debundle the investing process. With Helio, CircleUp can detect signals that lead to strong but also repeatable fund performance—free from Key Person risk.
Delivering Returns and Opportunity
General Partners have a fiduciary responsibility to their institutional investors. CircleUp has delivered top-notch fund returns to date as trusted stewards, leveraging the data advantage Helio provides.
But as impressed as I am by the strong performance of CircleUp’s funds, I’m equally amazed by the inclusionary outcome of the data-driven approach. Helio doesn’t care what entrepreneurs look like, where they went to school or where their business is headquartered. It cares about where these entrepreneurs are going: the technology assesses growth potential based on several factors indicative of future success, such as product differentiation, brand strength and distribution growth. By finding and evaluating companies through data instead of traditionally manual processes riddled with unconscious bias, CircleUp has ended up with a portfolio that is far more representative of the world in which we live.
As a female and a minority, those statistics hit close to home. These numbers are far lower in the broader VC universe, and while it shouldn’t be groundbreaking for portfolio composition to be more in line with demographics, that is the reality of the world we live in today. This is not a system of bad actors; it is one of structural inefficiencies that must be resolved. Private investors will continue to overlook entire segments of the private company landscape unless they can systematically uncover breakout businesses outside their immediate purview. CircleUp’s technology allows us to do just that: merit-based decision making means driving growth and creating value for institutional investors and entrepreneurs alike.
The Importance of a Great Team
After 18 years in the industry, I’ve learned that it is both difficult and critically important to find a team that fits your style and values. So I approached the interview process for this job as a two-sided exchange: I was evaluating the CircleUp team just as they were evaluating me.
When I’m considering an opportunity, I ask a lot of due diligence questions. That’s not just because I’m concerned about my own fit, but because I know that clients tend to ask those types of questions as well. Conversations with CircleUp’s team were candid throughout the process.
When you ask the same question to everyone you meet, the responses can be telling, particularly when it comes to the overall vision of a company. At CircleUp, everyone is clearly rowing in the same direction. There were no mixed messages—everyone’s consistency in approach and sense of purpose shone through. The more I learned about how well they worked together, and how genuine, mission-aligned and motivated they were, the more impressed I grew.
And so now I’m here, and I’m ready to get to work. I still think back to a year ago, and am thankful that my husband recommended that podcast. I’m even more appreciative of the CircleUp team for their decision to bring me on. This isn’t just a job. It’s how I want to spend my time—and make an impact in the world.