Using Roam Research to manage the firehose of information in venture capital — part 1

In venture, we invest information as well as capital into startups and outsize returns can be catalysed with the right information being available in the right moment.

Information has many forms and some of the big ones for me are companies, people, trends, technology and lessons learned. Collecting this information is very difficult and making it available when we need it in our work is harder still. Some investors are blessed with a gift of memory. I am not one of those investors, so I need tools.

One of those tools is Roam Research. For the past 2 years, it has changed how I work in a material way. I am often asked how I use it so will start documenting here.

Why is information hard in venture capital and how does Roam make it easier?

Information storage and retrieval isn’t new. We have spreadsheets, CRMs, ERPs, note taking apps, task managers and good old fashioned notebooks. All of these provide part of the solution but still leave the following problems.

  • Siloing into folders and apps locks information away and introduces overhead for retrieval. What happens if a piece of information belongs in many places? For example, meeting a chemist who has figured out how to create enzymes for recycling plastic could lead to data entry into a CRM, into a database storing R&D activity around certain industrial use cases. Perhaps emails are exchanged leaving an information trail there. Two years later a startup needs this expertise. How do we find them? Do we search each silo hoping we can put together the whole picture?
  • Time and context are fluid. An atom of information could arrive in a cafe or when you see a poster on a train. What happens if this moment triggers the need for tasks, storage in a few different contexts that may need exploring more deeply later? Do we take the time to open multiple files and apps? Do we hand write it in a notebook to never be viewed again?
  • Synthesis is a core job of an investor. As important as storage is the retrieval and work with the information to synthesis new ideas and insights? Information is stored so that we can do something with it not just to have a record that we may (or likely will not) look at again. How do we pull together atoms of information from different places to create new ideas?

These are the three big problems that Roam Research solves well.

In Part 2, we will start building our solution.

If you are using Roam in your work as an investor, I’d love to hear your ideas on how you have built your workflow. I am @philmorle on Twitter.

This post was created with Typeshare

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Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.

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Phil Morle

Phil Morle

Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.

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