A fund manager’s secret weapon: an EA

Jun 11, 2024

How investors work with an executive assistant to save time and do more.

A year ago I hired an EA via Athena. Her name is Ida. She’s made my life better.

For years, I was hesitant to hire help.

Do I have enough work to fill an EA’s time? Turns out I do, especially when deployed in both personal and professional lives.

Will an EA make me less personable and accessible? Will I come off “cold” to founders? No, not if you do it right.

Will I feel guilty offloading tasks to an EA that I perceive as mundane? There are people who truly love this work and want to support busy leaders.

Now that it’s been a year working with Ida, it’s increasingly obvious to me that more people – especially fund managers that have sooo much to juggle – should hire an EA. It feels like an upgrade from a horse and carriage to a Model 3.

In this post, we share tips on how to work with an EA and examples of how we and other funds gain leverage with their help. If you only have a few minutes, here are the takeaways:

  • EAs aren’t just for “work." Many people limit their EA's scope to professional tasks. They could be gaining more leverage and saving time delegating personal projects, too. This reflects the often blended nature of an investor’s work and personal life. For example, Ben at Theory Forge Ventures’ EA helped him on one of the biggest days of his life: His wedding.
  • Invest in your EA. A good EA wants to learn. The more you invest in their growth, the more productive the partnership. Consider giving them books, blog posts, or podcasts to learn more about your industry or weekly coaching sessions to help improve their output. The more you expose your EA to your world, the more context they’ll have to be proactive. This is why many investors give their EA access to their inboxes.
  • You should probably delegate more than you think. We often get into bad habits of doing things we should be delegating. Hiring an EA isn't just about buying back time but also removing switching costs and brain clutter from an accumulation of to-do’s. Once a task has been delegated, a good EA knows when to ask for input for time-sensitive tasks and when to batch updates at the end of the day or week.
  • The best EAs help you go on offense. EA Management 101 focuses on defense. These are things you’re already doing – such as scheduling and inbox management – that should be delegated. The best EAs can also help you go on offense to tackle new and useful projects that you otherwise wouldn’t have the bandwidth or interest in pursuing. For example, Kiva at Selva Ventures has his EA monitor the websites of similar venture firms to help source new investment opportunities.
  • EA-in-the-loop workflows can strike a balance between efficiency and personal connection. For communication workflows, some investors we spoke with preferred a hybrid approach. For example, this might include pre-drafting email responses to save the investor time while maintaining full control over their communications. At Weekend Fund, we use Front, a collaborative inbox, to help with this.

Shout out to Ben Parr (Theory Forge Ventures), Erica Wenger (Park Rangers Capital), Kiva Dickinson (Selva Ventures), and Sunil Pai (Angel Collective Opportunity Fund) for contributing to this post.

Disclosure: I’m a tiny angel in Athena. I also get a referral kickback for those who sign up as customers. It’s important that I share this upfront, but to be clear: I wouldn’t be writing this if I couldn’t fully endorse the company and didn’t think it was useful for Signature Block readers. Also if you’re wondering, it was my idea to write this. Athena didn’t ask. :)

EA playbooks for investors

To give you some inspiration, we’re sharing examples of how we and other fund managers work with EAs to buy back time and save energy for things investors should be focused on.

How Ida supports Ryan at Weekend Fund

Ida saves me time and frees up my mind space, professionally and personally.

Every day at 5pm she delivers a diary of everything she accomplished that day and includes action items that need my attention.

Her efforts can be broken into personal (recurring and one-off) and professional (recurring and one-off).

On the professional side, she’s baked into our processes at Weekend Fund to make us more efficient and accountable to follow through with important recurring tasks. This includes CRM and pipeline management to ensure that we follow up with founders and close the link with those who introduced us (in concert with our automation setup); help writing articles for Signature Block by aggregating investor input, creating images to include in the post, and helping us draft social posts; and support sharing deal flow with other early-stage investors.

She also helps with one-off projects, lowering the bar for us to execute new experiments. For example, last year we set out to introduce LPs to GPs that were raising. Using Typeform, Zapier, and Airtable, we assembled a matching system to automate much of the process but like many quick experiments, there are often several manual steps and QA required to ensure they run smoothly. Ida covered holes and served as “last mile” support to execute the project.

On the personal side she supports me in several recurring tasks. She documents my expenses for my CPA, ensures that I select the best insurance (home, auto, etc.) when renewals are due, schedules medical appointments (dental, PT, etc.), helps with my SF condo-rental logistics, and makes my travels easier by finding a gym and reliable work cafe nearby my Airbnb/hotel.

What I underestimated before working with Ida was the vast number of important but time-insensitive projects that I put off. These projects and tasks cluttered my mind, like a junk drawer of things to do in the future. Examples include finding a new therapist that accepts my insurance, researching umbrella insurance policies, and finding a credit card that’s better suited for my spending behavior.

How Nikko supports Sunil at Angel Collective Opportunity Fund

Nikko is embedded into ACOF’s workflows.

Nearly every investor has a CRM to help manage their massive and growing network. But updating and leveraging this CRM also takes work. Nikko helps with both: He keeps the team’s CRM updated and nudges Sunil to follow up with people that he wants to stay in touch with.

Nikko also ensures the team’s well-prepared when meeting with a founder. From Sunil:

“I have my EA create a summary about a company that I'm interested in learning more about. He reviews the company's website, reads press about the company, reads reviews of their product, adds information from Pitchbook and LinkedIn - and makes an overview. Below is an example. Before meeting with the company, I have a good sense of what they do and what I'd like to ask them questions about.”

How Dianne supports Ben at Theory Forge Ventures

Every week might include a new project for Dianne, from the professional to the personal.

This includes scouting for locations for his AI-focused events; helping interview and evaluate writers for his newsletter; and even planning Ben’s recent wedding.

Many people constrain an EA’s role to work tasks. This is overly limiting, especially today when work and personal life often blend. The time Ben would have spent on wedding logistics could have been used toward making progress on the fund on activities better suited for his interests and skillset. From Ben:

“I see the role of an EA to save me time and mental energy so I can spend more of it towards the highest-value projects, like thinking (what I'd give to have more time to just think), writing, and getting to better know new and amazing founders and LPs."

But working with an EA isn’t entirely about offloading work. An effective partnership requires an investment. Ben encourages Dianne to learn about the venture industry, suggesting books so that she can better understand the business of investing. This empowers her to be more autonomous, productive, and effective in projects and communications with founders, VCs, and LPs.

How Gab supports Erica at Park Rangers Capital

Like Ben, Erica works with her EA, Gab, across professional and personal projects.

Gab manages Erica’s overflowing inbox, categorizing inbound emails and drafting replies using pre-established templates. She helps Erica plan a date night, an important part of relationships that often gets deprioritized by busy professionals. She’s currently working on Park Rangers Capital’s first annual general meeting (AGM) for hundreds of people.

But the best EAs aren’t limited to admin tasks. Many have interests and skills that translate into other roles, like podcast production. From Erica:

“One of the more creative projects he's helped me with is designing, writing, scheduling, and editing every element of my podcast. He's incredibly talented at design and editing work, so he was able to step in and take over the podcast from start to end. While we prep for Season 4 of the Dear Twentysomething podcast, I'm confident he'll make sure it runs very smoothly.”

How MJ supports Kiva at Selva Ventures

Some professionals are hesitant to take on an EA, fearful it could interfere with their ability to personally connect with others. The classic example of this: Meeting scheduling. Kiva takes a hybrid approach, saving time with MJ’s help while maintaining a direct connection with recipients:

“As a venture investor, my calendar is full of meetings with new companies, portfolio companies, and LPs — the scheduling is overwhelming as meetings are constantly changing. While it’s efficient to loop in your EA to manage this for you, I don’t like the style of handing off key relationships to my EA when they haven’t done so first; instead, my EA organizes these emails for me in a ‘Meetings’ folder and pre-drafts responses based on my calendar, which allows me to quickly check, change and send responses (as myself, not my EA). This gives me the best of both worlds rather than choosing between efficiency and etiquette.”

Outside of calendar management and other ongoing tasks, Kiva also tasks MJ with help in sourcing deal flow.

“He monitors the websites of the 15 venture firms most similar to us and documents their active portfolio. Each quarter he revisits the websites to see if any new logos have appeared. Many times, VC websites update before transaction PR goes live, so this can flag to us new deals in the market before they become public knowledge. We think this is a unique way to help our firm keep a good pulse on what’s new across the industry.”

(A snippet from Weekend Fund’s site)

So, do you need an EA?

The examples above might have sparked interest in hiring an EA, but if you’re still on the fence, consider asking yourself:

  • How much time am I spending on admin tasks vs. strategic work?
  • What tasks do I currently handle at work that could be delegated?
  • Which personal projects or responsibilities do I continually put off that could be offloaded?
  • Do I need an EA to help with local tasks? If so, what is my budget? (EAs in-person within the US are typically 3-5x more expensive)

If you’re interested in hiring an EA, use my VIP link for a discount and priority access.

And if you have any questions, shoot me a tweet or DM.

Until next time,

Ryan and Vedika from Weekend Fund

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