Family Office Hacks

These are 45 Hacks related to Family Offices and relations with them that we collected at the Family Office Online Conference (FOOC) on March 13th, 2024.

Thanks to everyone supporting our event and contributing to this knowledgebase!

Please, use the tags below to navigate and find hacks for Family Offices or those who want to set up relationships with them for investments.
This is not a direct guide, but ideas to jumpstart the investment process.

Roman Nefedov

By Family Office: structure & team, diversification of the investment portfolio, investment decision-making, how to set relations

  • Structure and team
  • As a SFO we recommend to build alliances with other SFO for the syndication of deals and global support of your portfolio companies once they want to scale internationally.
  • Invest in human capital
    Multi-disciplinary expertise: FOs benefit from a team with diverse backgrounds in finance, law, tax, and alternative investments. This holistic approach ensures informed decision-making.
    Industry-specific knowledge: Consider specialists in the family's preferred investment areas for deeper analysis and due diligence.
    Succession planning: Nurture talent within the family office or the next generation of the family to ensure knowledge transfer and long-term sustainability.
  • Be structured. This may seem obvious, but FOs can often be a bit mercurial and free-wheeling since they are operating at the wishes of a family. Set up clear decision-making and ownership throughout the team to minimize frustration and time wastage.
    • Always be willing to innovate in cybersecurity and portfolio management software and tools.
    • Don't endorse AI hype catching.
  • Investment decision-making
  • Incentives drive human behavior
    There is a famous story when Charlie Munger found a money manager to manage the Munger family money in China. His advice to that money manager (Li Lu, Founder and Chairman of Himalaya Capital) was to copy the structure of financial incentives that Warren Buffett created for himself as a General Partner of seven famous Partnerships when Warren set up his famous Buffett Partnerships during the period of 1956-1970. This is the best advice for every family office investment team worldwide .... no matter where they are in the world or what their strategy or focus is they need the right incentive structure set by the trustees and family leadership to guide them away from speculation and gambling towards deep long term generational wealth building.
  • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Always make sure to do your diligence and reach out to others that know more about the space you are considering. I talk to companies all the time that try to convince us they have the best/only solution to a particular problem. Investing in companies with revolutionary technology is difficult, seek out different opinions.
  • Group think kills risk-taking. Have a group set objective investment restrictions and budgets but then trust in the individuals to execute the strategy.
  • Build the relationship first, and understand the cultural dynamics at play.
    • Planning & Strategizing investment diversification in short-, medium-, and long-term returns. Further broken down in: Operational interests, and funding interests.
    • Do a webinar to get the best of investment strategies.
  • Diversification of the investment portfolio

  • Build relationships with key industry influencers that are adjacent to the niches and verticals that you are getting into. Learn from them but also form a worldview that can be shared with the industry at large. Understand that part of building your deal flow, pipeline, or investments is about finding the people who believe in your worldview and trust that you have the right skills to build on.

    Producing your insights on a regular basis (not just LinkedIn posts) will broaden your network over time, build trust in your industry, and build your confidence, esteem, and authority when you finally do start to trigger direct investment conversations.
  • Invest in emerging managers – this is where the alpha lies.
  • How to set up relationships with Family Offices
  • I am sure that for startups looking to engage with Family Offices for investments, it’s essential to understand the unique priorities of each Family Office. A powerful approach is to emphasize alignment with the Family Office’s values and long-term investment philosophy. Articulate clearly how your startup’s mission and potential for societal impact align with the Family Office’s legacy and vision. Additionally, be prepared to show a robust, risk-adjusted financial model that resonates with the Family Office’s preference for the preservation of capital and long-term wealth creation.
  • The first time we meet you shouldn't be when you urgently need us. It is important to forge relationships with prospective investors (i.e., family offices) over time, particularly since our families tend to want to know the people with whom they are doing business.
  • Make the investment of time to build a durable relationship with them. Treat them like a bank... make a series of small investments in them before you try to make a withdrawal!

By other stakeholders: how to set up relationships with Family Offices for investments

  • Leverage the power of "niche expertise"
    Why this works:
    Stand Out in a Crowded Market: Many entrepreneurs approach Family Offices with generic pitches. By demonstrating deep expertise in a specific niche, you'll immediately differentiate yourself.
    Problem-Solving Focus: Family Offices often face unique challenges or have specialized investment interests. Positioning yourself as a solution provider in a niche area makes you invaluable.
    Builds Trust and Credibility: Demonstrating deep knowledge of a specific sector or technology indicates a level of dedication and understanding that resonates with FOs.

    How to implement this:
    Identify Your Niche: What specific industry, technology, or market segment do you know exceptionally well? This could be based on past experience or a particular passion.
    Develop Thought Leadership: Share insights through blog posts, LinkedIn articles, or speaking engagements within your niche. This establishes you as an authority.
    Target the Right Family Offices: Research FOs that have a track record or expressed interest in your niche area. This increases the chances of finding a strong fit.
    Example: If you have deep expertise in sustainable agriculture technology, focus on showcasing this knowledge. Target Family Offices with investments in food security, organic farming, or impact investing.

    Remember, Family Offices value specialized knowledge and problem-solving capabilities. By positioning yourself as a niche expert, you'll become a sought-after partner, not just another face in the crowd.
  • Learn their passions, interests, and motivations
    I formerly worked with a well-established and significant family foundation for over a decade. Both founders have extensive private family offices and manage a large family foundation. A simple "hack" is learning what passions, interests, and motivations command the attention and focus of these philanthropic donors. That is not always easy, but in my experience, you can discover those passions with the right research. One of the founders had a very public campaign to increase awareness of gender inequities (particularly the challenges women face in accessing education and quality primary health care). The other had a growing public concern about the climate emergency and the need for innovation to help solve these seemingly intractable problems. I think you can learn more about a specific family office and its founder's passions, which can go a long way to helping you make sure that you're approaching individuals and offices that have an affinity to the problem you're seeking to solve or the solution you're seeking support to scale.
  • I did get investment from a FO for a start up I represented in the UK in 2020. I did some due diligence on websites and LinkedIn to select those that appeared more suitable, sent a short intro email with a "why Start Up X is good for you" and what we were looking from an investor, plus a one pager attached. I followed up with calls and organised meetings with those interested. I treated them like a VIP client and offered that relationship management even after investment. I also send speculative intros or attend related event to position myself as an experienced and well connected operator who can find them interesting investment opportunities.
  • Engage on a personal level
    Cultivating enduring relationships with family offices extends beyond securing investments. Engage with them on a personal level, understanding their unique values, goals, and family dynamics. Provide transparent updates on their investments' progress and offer valuable insights to guide their decision-making. Seek opportunities for collaboration, co-investment, and participation in exclusive events that align with their interests. Nurture multi-generational connections and tailor your approach to each family office's specific needs. By treating these partnerships as an extension of your own family and prioritizing their aspirations, you can foster trust, loyalty, and shared success for years to come.
  • Leverage your existing network and connections
    The most effective approach to connecting with family offices involves leveraging your existing network and connections. Utilize platforms like LinkedIn to identify mutual connections or reach out to individuals who may have ties to family offices. Attend industry-specific events, conferences, and gatherings where family offices are likely to be present. Additionally, consider adding value to the ecosystem by facilitating connections between family offices and other funds or investors whose goals align with theirs, even if they may not directly align with your own fund or investment thesis. Remember, investors serve as conduits to support startups and innovators driving progress in society, so fostering mutually beneficial relationships can be key to building rapport and gaining access to family office networks.
  • Cultivating genuine relationships with family office owners and staff has been invaluable. Through these connections, I've gained access to exclusive meetups, private events, and unique opportunities that foster trust and deep understanding of their investment theses. Building meaningful relationships within the family office community requires authenticity, patience, and a desire to learn and contribute. These connections have enriched my knowledge, allowing me to navigate the ecosystem with greater wisdom and purpose.
  • To expand my family office network and foster trust, I implement a comprehensive strategy centered on my "Startup Mentoring & Venturing" podcast. By extending invitations to Single Family Office Founders & C-level executives, I provide a platform for them to share their stories with my podcast audience. Through long-format in-depth interviews, these leaders have the opportunity to share their journeys, offer valuable advice, and impart wisdom gleaned from their experiences. Of particular interest are single family offices that also manage as anchor investors their own venture capital funds, as this convergence offers a unique perspective that resonates with my audience's interests. Engaging with such esteemed guests not only cultivates strong relationships but also bolsters the credibility and relevance of my podcast within the family office and VC ecosystem in Latam. Through these interactions, my goal is not only to expand my network and knowledge but also to establish a foundation of trust and mutual respect with key stakeholders in the industry.
  • Family offices value trusted resources. When presenting investment opportunities without that, your odds of success are fairly low. One way to build that trust is by offering help first. For example, you could make a helpful introduction or offer other help. Then after you have contributed value, you can explore opportunities for collaboration, which might include investments.
  • Running an applied science venture studio we often need to pull the context back to something grounded in the current narrative. For example, when one of our FO investors asked about investing in public antibody-drug conjugate stocks I was caught entirely off-guard as this is ancient technology in our world, we're building 2-3 generations ahead. So personally I've found the art is to explain the trajectory from the current narrative to what's next in a way that they can actively use to think about their later stage investment strategy whether that's series B through to funds and public stocks. Owning companies at the earliest stages is a bonus but the real interest is often more about understanding the bigger picture. That and also some nice tidbits to show off on the golf course at the weekend ;)
  • I believe in being genuine. I run into people and do me which is make jokes, share insights and passion for investment opportunities. Somehow I made a few family office friends and I connect opportunities that fit their portfolio. I think finding the people with whom you can shine bright like a diamond matters. It's not about 1000s of contacts but a few genuine ones who like you for what You're.
  • Use to research Family Offices based on their investment objectives and find a way that you can offer them value before pitching. See if you can connect at a conference, introduce them to someone who would be beneficial to what they are building and engage in their LinkedIn content in the comments offering insightful contributions. Once a relationship is established, ensure your opportunity is well aligned.
  • A. find a family office that has already been successful in the industry you are in, ideally the initial wealth stems from your or a similar industry
    B. confirm that their values align with yours
    C. reach out, highlighting the connection
  • "If you know one Family Office, you know one Family Office" - this saying refers to the general notion that each family office is very different. Family offices with younger managers are often active and accessible via LinkedIn. I also recommend to attend events with Family business owners and offer help wherever you can add value to them.
  • Connect to FO's via Linkedin or existing FO listings. Subscribe them to your email-listing. Inform them via a monthly newsletter about your activities, performances and facts-and-figures. Use standard digital marketing techniques to 'activate' the FO members into a CTA. When you realised a communication with the FO, you need to take it from there to close a potential deal/investment. Basically standard, smart, digital marketing. Be authentic - show thought leadership - build trust - show grit.
  • 1) Try to find some topic that FO can be interested in.
    2) Write a blog article/post on Linked In or other special magazine on the topic from point 1
    3) Then ask FO if they would be interested in participation in that post (eg. quote)
    4) Then try to engage your audience in topic, create a survey. Afterwards, share the insights with FO.
    5) Ask FO if they would be interested in common webinar or podcast episode on topic 1
    6) Elaborate to bigger events.
  • Deliver value before expecting anything
    Start by offering something of value without expecting an immediate investment or return. This could be in the form of market insights, industry introductions, or even sharing opportunities that don't directly benefit you but could benefit the Family Office. The key is to demonstrate that you are a valuable and generous partner, not just looking for a quick transaction.
  • Just find your way into the circle. Once there, be transparent, honest and be authentically you. Most families want to know you before doing business with you. I was brand new to the FO space two years ago and now have relationships with over 50.
  • Younger members of families coming out of college are always looking to differentiate themselves from the previous generation. Form a relationship with them and convince them to be partner in the Venture Studio.
  • Just call or email them and ask about their investment activity and criteria. Determine whether they are currently looking for deals and present deals that fall within a range of their investment criteria.
  • To set relationships with Family Offices for investments, start by understanding their unique investment criteria and objectives. Network at industry events and leverage platforms like LinkedIn to initiate conversations. Offer tailored insights and demonstrate how your opportunity aligns with their strategic goals. Building trust through transparency and consistent communication is key. Focus on long-term partnerships rather than quick wins.
  • Go for introduction-focused, they are hidden and most rely on introductions so working with advisors to get introduced. Beyond that, have twist before just money, family offices are already weathly they also want know what impact you have beyond just returns.
  • Leverage LinkedIn, not email, for your cold outreach. Also, unless they specifically state in their investment thesis that they are impact investors, steer away from the term "impact. investing" because for some FOs this implies that their investment will not result in a return.
  • Start building relationships early. Don't just go cup in hand when you need funding. Get to know the principals, understand their investment goals...both from an ethos perspective and from a financial perspective, and connect them, if possible, to other opportunities which may be of interest. The more you listen and helpful you are, the better your odds. This will also help you get a good sense for how to triage offices that are aligned vs not quickly.
  • Find out the charitable causes that the Family has a history of making donations to. Form relationship with the principals of the charity organization. This opens the door for forming a relationship with the Family member.
  • 1- Try to research & analyse the areas that interest a family office.
    2- Reach out through personalised mail/LinkedIn/X dm to the FOs mentioning how FOs goals intersects with yours. And then try to pursue and build on that relationship through continued communication rhrough calls/newsletter/mails.
  • Focus on building trust and rapport: Family Offices value long-term relationships and trustworthiness. Take the time to understand their values, goals, and investment preferences. Be transparent about your investment strategies, track record, and potential risks. Building a genuine connection will increase the likelihood of securing investments from Family Offices
  • More hacks on how to set up relations with Family Offices
    • Getting to know events and places they congregate and get to know the people well before you need to raise the investments.
    • Join Venture Studio Family by Max Pog, collaborate with other VS, and hire people with different backgrounds than yours (by Nastja Preradović Višić).
    • Do deep research into their interests both the types of investments they do and why they do them and their philanthropic interest as well (by Luke Robinson).
    • Right FO Segmentation, diligent Targeting, and finally - Positioning yourself so you match with FO investment thesis or Mission agenda (by Michael Akimov).
    • Host investor panels, pitch events, topical interviews on trends, or knowledge sharing with investors. (by Jessie Chuang, Global League).
    • Based on my experience, FO pursues a legacy as well as financial gains. So coming up with a strategy to enhance their FO in terms of family legacy would be a good starting point (by Phil Jae Park).
    • Understand their background, know their culture, and tell them our value proposition (by Perkins Ho).
    • Build trust and provide value (by Manuel Mark).
    • Ask for advice, not for money. That lets you establish a connection more easily (by Nikita Yuriev).
    • I have found just emailing them, setting up a zoom, and talking with your contact. They will tell you what they offer and also share a few other family offices for your niche or interest.
    • Build a relationship and focus on building a long-term relationship rather than a one-off transaction: regular communication, transparency, and demonstrating a deep understanding of their needs and objectives.
    • Attend focused investor-business events and find the FO representative targeted to your investment needs then build trust and connection on that basis.
    • Attend webinars and referrals from other startup founders.
    • Look for their interest and build arguments around them.
    • Collaborative portfolio deal/project syndication based on a well-defined investment thesis.
    • Give them early signs of future success of potential exits with relatively high multiple with relatively low risk.
    • Trust is the most important to start with. And building more.

Other hacks

  • A contract negotiations hack
    When working on agreements with large companies and their powerful legal departments, if you want to avoid lengthy negotiations, don't bloody their documents with deletions. Instead of deleting clauses you need removed, add a new paragraph next that starts with "Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the case of X, we will apply Y..." Your goal is to cancel the implications of the previous clause without actually deleting it. I have found over the years that this softer approach works like a charm.
  • Start with a well defined problem before looking for the solution. Far too often, a sexy solution seems like a great investment, but fails when it comes to product-market fit because the original problem wasn't well defined and a solution was built that nobody wanted or cared about.
  • How to refine your ideal Customer Profile
    What do you think you sell? <--close this gap--> What does your customer think they’re buying?

    Why do you think your customer will buy? <--close this gap--> Why does your customer buy?

    Gather this information early and often to refine your ICP
    • Venture Studios have the potential to be highly profitable investments for Family Offices (by Giang Trinh).
    • Go with the entrepreneurs who are most engaging and go over and above to share and be willing to learn and take risks (by Brian Kiroga).
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