Inbound v. Outbound Sourcing: “Nobody could give us insights into companies at the earliest stages”
A few years ago, Ridge decided to start supplementing their deal pipeline with outbound sourcing—“effectively increasing our coverage with the companies we found compelling,” explains Zain Rizavi, Principal. “So we started looking at a variety of data providers—but nobody could really give us insights into companies at the earliest stages. Every platform was feeding us Series A companies. And at that point, it’s too late for Ridge to invest.”
When Ridge took the meeting with Harmonic, Zain's inquiries revolved around one central theme: “How good is the data? How accurate and complete is it? And how many gaps will it fill in terms of what we don’t already know about these companies?” Harmonic uncovers the earliest-stage companies from a variety of data sources—such as legal filings, business registries, and social platforms—well before other providers do. “That’s ultimately the biggest reason we chose to partner with Harmonic,” Zain recounts: “We simply saw the data quality was better.”
With Harmonic, Ridge has built a workflow that allows them to increase deal flow in both outbound and inbound sourcing.
Building the Outbound Machine
First, the firm built a saved search that serves up companies filtered by funding, headcount, and hundreds of positive or negative keywords (“the stuff we don’t want to see”) that align with their thesis. Keyword searches span even the companies’ website text, so that investors at Ridge can be ultra precise with their company discovery. Ridge is now able to identify interesting companies long before they are funded, and connect with founders who are otherwise well outside their networks. “Harmonic has been a big help for us on the discovery side,” says Zain. What’s more, “the quality of the saved searches has improved over time—meaning we’re seeing fewer companies that are less relevant to us.” That’s because Harmonic’s algorithm learns each time a Ridge investor qualifies or disqualifies a company.
Ridge has connected its saved searches in Harmonic to the firm’s CRM, which updates daily with new companies that match their investment criteria. Sometimes a team member at Ridge assigns the new companies that surface to investors based on their areas of expertise; but more often, individual investors will go into the platform and claim the companies that are most compelling to them—“so it’s not just bottlenecked on my opinion,” explains Zain. “Everybody gets a chance to make a judgment here. As such, Harmonic has become a core part of everyone’s workflow.”
Harmonic has been a big help for us on the discovery side, the quality of the saved searches has improved over time—meaning we’re seeing fewer companies that are less relevant to us.”
Using Harmonic to Qualify In-Network Deals
Ridge team members are still frequently sent companies from their networks. When that happens, they can navigate to the company’s website and open Harmonic’s Chrome extension to get details on the company's growth trajectory and team breakdown. “In my day-to-day flow I use the extension a lot,” says Zain. “It’s easy to use, and Harmonic is particularly good at identifying founders—so if I can’t tell who the founder of a super-early company is, Harmonic is my go-to.” The firm also enriches its CRM with Harmonic data, so investors are regularly updated on changes in known companies, keeping their fingers more perceptively on the pulse of the startup landscape.
Harmonic also allows Ridge’s investors to integrate their Linkedin connections with the platform. People Alerting enables team members to receive email alerts whenever any of their connections makes a job transition, updates their headline, or augments their experience, strengthening Ridge’s ability to stay well-informed and connected to the market. For example, “Ridge cares a lot about repeat founders,” Zain explains. “Who’s started a company in the last ten years? With Harmonic, we can observe those profiles for changes—because if someone led a startup well before, we want to know if they’re planning to try it again.”
Zain describes his experience of partnering with Harmonic over the last few years as “clearly helpful and net-positive.” The Ridge team’s thoughtful insights have helped Harmonic shape its product, and Zain looks “forward to seeing this relationship with the Harmonic team continue to unfold.”
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