The fund-of-funds model has a new role to play in the venture ecosystem as the amount of capital allotted to such funds has declined over the years. And as its role changes, I couldn’t help but wonder if this new version is helping diverse and emerging fund managers.
Forget, for a moment, the pros and cons of the model itself — my colleague Rebecca has already covered that. Think instead of the actual premise of a fund of funds (FoF): Investors and LPs back such funds as a way to enter a market, sometimes to get into early-stage deals, as they can use the funds’ broad base to spread risk. So if an investor is already adjusting for risk, why not back diverse and emerging fund managers who are doing the same thing as any other manager: placing bets and hoping for high returns?
If the problem is that diverse fund managers are riskier, for whatever reason, then the FoF model should give an added layer of protection should everything go astray. Typically, FOFs do good diligence, meaning the level of diligence will be lower for the LPs looking to invest in the funds backed by the FoFs. This might be a plus for some investors.
An easy way to see how a prospective fund is doing is to simply ask them: schedule a call to connect. Or ask a friend what they’ve heard about so-and-so. Literally, just go out there and get them. A lot of diverse fund managers fit into the emerging fund manager bucket, and they are not going to turn down an established investor.
After all, it’s a tough market out there, as Sara Zulkosky, managing partner at Recast Capital, a U.S.-based fund of funds, points out.
“We’ve seen firsthand that it can take diverse-led venture firms over twice as long to raise their funds. Many emerging managers, raising more modest fund sizes, are raising from high-net-worth individuals, family offices and other institutions via modest check sizes,” she told TechCrunch+. “FoFs, specifically those focused on emerging managers, can oftentimes write more substantial checks and help to accelerate a fund.”