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SaaS for VC/PE Funds: Highlighting the Most Opaque and Least Understood Area of Investment Management

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Natallia Chykina iTech Capital

Natallia Chykina of AIRR tells us about one SAAS solution for all investment management needs.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded AIRR.

Natallia Chykina: I am CFO and Partner at iTech Capital, a $200M+ PE/VC firm, and a co-founder of AIRR, an online platform for investors and fund managers. AIRR was basically born in the internal system of our fund. We began to develop it to meet our own needs and only then started selling it to other funds as an independent product.

How does AIRR innovate? 

Natallia Chykina: We have created AIRR to help automate all business processes related to direct investment management. The service offers a single SaaS solution for venture funds, private equity funds, family offices, angels, and any other professional investors. Our vision is that PE/VC funds need “PE-Ops” or “VC-Ops”, a set of technologies that will simplify their daily work and provide the infrastructure for their key business processes. We are the only fund management platform on the market with an open approach to integrations. You can continue using the software you currently have, and we are here to help you to make better use of it by pulling the data together and improving its usability and transparency for the investors. We do it through our mobile app, web portal, data export API for customizable reporting, and many other features.

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?

Natallia Chykina: We are an IT company, and we were working remotely well before the pandemic, recruiting people internationally. We see active growth in our segment, our main challenge is to keep up with the constantly evolving technology market.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using?

Natallia Chykina: The investment software market keeps growing and is planned to hit $ 5,8 bln by 2025, this market will become more and more competitive, so we need to keep going fast. We are thinking to add tools related to public markets to the product functionality, which will significantly expand our audience. It’s the service where the entire portfolio is collected: direct investments, the public market, investments in funds. It will help the investor to visually assess the return on investment and their current state. We are also planning to develop one of the AIRR products in the service direction where investors can quickly and conveniently view companies according to the like/dislike principle. We call it “Tinder for funds”.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Natallia Chykina: We tried to strike the right balance between simplicity and functionality. In the market of investment management solutions there are 2 types of products – either extremely simple tools that only let you look at quotes and the structure of the portfolio or – in the other extreme – expensive and difficult “fund ERP” solutions which together with all additional necessary software will cost from $ 70-100k a year. Thus funds like ours and small family offices usually need something in the middle ($500-700 a month). With AIRR we strove to hit the right balance between these two opposing extremes. We think we have worked out all the complications that arose to finally deliver all the key features necessary to a small PE/VC fund.

Your final thoughts?

Natallia Chykina: Automation, transparency, and control are the trends of today, and they are also coming to the private equity industry. Transparency of the process as a whole removes the risk of manipulation and makes the work of the fund manager more open. The advantage of a product like ours is accessibility and mobility: an investor can look into the phone at any time and find out what is happening with their money in two minutes.

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