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Building a 200+ Investor Syndicate in 6 Months

Apr 4, 2023

Sydecar

Syndicates are a great way to build a large investing community that shares capital, dealflow, and knowledge. However, launching an investor syndicate can feel like a cold start problem. Much like a marketplace, a successful syndicate must manage the demands and growth from two sides: the LP base and the deal flow. Syndicate leads can feel like they are being stretched in two directions, trying to create the best quality on both sides.

Colin Gardiner knows a thing or two about marketplaces, having worked in leadership positions at companies like Roamly and Outdoorsy. After spending over 5 years as an angel investor, Colin launched the Yonder Ventures syndicate in the fall of 2022 to scale his investing. Since founding Yonder, Colin has run 6 deals and grown his LP base to 200+ investors. We chatted with him to learn more about his experience building a syndicate, how he works with his investor network, and how he works with his investors to inform thesis and dealflow. 

Setting up and growing a syndicate

Sydecar (SC): Why did you decide to start a syndicate? 

Colin Gardiner (CG): After working on four startups and raising over $200M, I started advising a few companies and helping them with fundraising. In doing this, I realized that I was sending these great companies to everyone else when I have a group of friends that I should be inviting to invest. I wanted to help these friends bring in their capital and participate in the upside, so setting up a syndicate was the clear next step. 

SC: What was the set up process like?

CG: When I was ready to get started, I explored a few providers and was struck by how expensive most SPV platforms were.  

That's how I came to Sydecar. I was excited that the fee structure could be flexible with my deal size. Sydecar’s product is private, which is important for me as well. In my first deal, the company didn't want me to send it out broadly. They were concerned about privacy.

SC: How did co-syndicating a deal affect your syndicate?

CG: I launched my second deal in December as a co-syndication with Harry Campbell. Through co-syndication, Harry and I were able to leverage our combined networks, allowing me to reach a new pool of investors. My LP base grew from around 25 investors to almost 200 – just from this one deal. All of a sudden, my deals were filling more quickly. It’s been fulfilling to see these new investors get excited about my deals, give me  feedback, and send referrals to new investors.

SC: Speaking of the growth that you've had, you are a fan of “building in public”, largely through your social media and podcast . Why do you share your journey so openly?

CG: After years of advising startups, I’ve seen how important access to knowledge is. When information is out in the open, the whole ecosystem benefits. Investing is not a zero-sum game. I need to know tons of people to get deal flow. They bring me in on things, and I bring them in.

A lot of my work in launching this syndicate has been talking to people. I want to synthesize and share that knowledge to help people start investing. The more capital that's out there, the more companies can be funded. This gives us more innovation and a better startup ecosystem. 

Understanding the needs of your investor base

SC: You talked about the challenges when you were first starting out, but how have those challenges changed as you grew? 

CG: With over 200 LPs, I am now running into scalability problems. The more deal flow I have, the more time I have to spend on diligence. I can’t send my investors every single deal I get excited about because then my capital pool will be stretched too thin. It’s more important than ever that I pick the deals that will most resonate with my syndicate investors. 

SC: How do you learn what will excite your investors? 

CG: One useful practice I have is that I send a welcome email to every new syndicate member. It describes my investment thesis and where my edge is. It also lists any open deals in the syndicate and asks what they would like to see. I store this information in a large Airtable which allows me to track what each investor likes and which of my deals they have invested in. I am starting to see trends in their interests. This helps me evaluate the likelihood that they'll invest in future deals.

Finding exciting startups and securing allocation

SC: What types of startups are you investing in?

CG: Marketplaces are my area of expertise. I believe there will be exciting growth in “marketplace+” models. These are marketplaces plus something else, such as Marketplace+SaaS or Marketplace+FinTech. Everything will trend this way, whether it be through a vertical SaaS adding a marketplace or a marketplace adding in vertical SaaS.

In this day and age, building a horizontal marketplace is really hard. Most things have already been done, and most marketplaces are cleaving verticals out of a horizontal marketplace. I am looking for businesses that are trying to embed deeper with either the demand or the supply side and build software to capture GMV from horizontal marketplaces.  

SC: How do you ask for the right allocation and predict what you're going to be able to raise?

CG: Early on, I did not know how to predict the amount I could raise. Now, when I see a deal that I have conviction for, I take the bet on raising more than what feels safe. If I feel I’ve found a great deal, I trust other investors will think the same. 

If I know less about a space, I will reach out to angels to get feedback on the deal before I ask for a certain allocation. Often, asking investors for advice will lead to them investing, helping fill the allocation.

Pushing yourself to raise more builds your audience, your LP base, and your network. In turn, that will make it easier to fill your next allocation. I think people get scared they can't raise enough. I'm getting to the point where I'm less concerned about that piece and more concerned about getting the best possible deals. If I can do that, then I know I’ll be able to fill the deal quickly. 

Syndicates are a great way to build a large investing community that shares capital, dealflow, and knowledge. However, launching an investor syndicate can feel like a cold start problem. Much like a marketplace, a successful syndicate must manage the demands and growth from two sides: the LP base and the deal flow. Syndicate leads can feel like they are being stretched in two directions, trying to create the best quality on both sides.

Colin Gardiner knows a thing or two about marketplaces, having worked in leadership positions at companies like Roamly and Outdoorsy. After spending over 5 years as an angel investor, Colin launched the Yonder Ventures syndicate in the fall of 2022 to scale his investing. Since founding Yonder, Colin has run 6 deals and grown his LP base to 200+ investors. We chatted with him to learn more about his experience building a syndicate, how he works with his investor network, and how he works with his investors to inform thesis and dealflow. 

Setting up and growing a syndicate

Sydecar (SC): Why did you decide to start a syndicate? 

Colin Gardiner (CG): After working on four startups and raising over $200M, I started advising a few companies and helping them with fundraising. In doing this, I realized that I was sending these great companies to everyone else when I have a group of friends that I should be inviting to invest. I wanted to help these friends bring in their capital and participate in the upside, so setting up a syndicate was the clear next step. 

SC: What was the set up process like?

CG: When I was ready to get started, I explored a few providers and was struck by how expensive most SPV platforms were.  

That's how I came to Sydecar. I was excited that the fee structure could be flexible with my deal size. Sydecar’s product is private, which is important for me as well. In my first deal, the company didn't want me to send it out broadly. They were concerned about privacy.

SC: How did co-syndicating a deal affect your syndicate?

CG: I launched my second deal in December as a co-syndication with Harry Campbell. Through co-syndication, Harry and I were able to leverage our combined networks, allowing me to reach a new pool of investors. My LP base grew from around 25 investors to almost 200 – just from this one deal. All of a sudden, my deals were filling more quickly. It’s been fulfilling to see these new investors get excited about my deals, give me  feedback, and send referrals to new investors.

SC: Speaking of the growth that you've had, you are a fan of “building in public”, largely through your social media and podcast . Why do you share your journey so openly?

CG: After years of advising startups, I’ve seen how important access to knowledge is. When information is out in the open, the whole ecosystem benefits. Investing is not a zero-sum game. I need to know tons of people to get deal flow. They bring me in on things, and I bring them in.

A lot of my work in launching this syndicate has been talking to people. I want to synthesize and share that knowledge to help people start investing. The more capital that's out there, the more companies can be funded. This gives us more innovation and a better startup ecosystem. 

Understanding the needs of your investor base

SC: You talked about the challenges when you were first starting out, but how have those challenges changed as you grew? 

CG: With over 200 LPs, I am now running into scalability problems. The more deal flow I have, the more time I have to spend on diligence. I can’t send my investors every single deal I get excited about because then my capital pool will be stretched too thin. It’s more important than ever that I pick the deals that will most resonate with my syndicate investors. 

SC: How do you learn what will excite your investors? 

CG: One useful practice I have is that I send a welcome email to every new syndicate member. It describes my investment thesis and where my edge is. It also lists any open deals in the syndicate and asks what they would like to see. I store this information in a large Airtable which allows me to track what each investor likes and which of my deals they have invested in. I am starting to see trends in their interests. This helps me evaluate the likelihood that they'll invest in future deals.

Finding exciting startups and securing allocation

SC: What types of startups are you investing in?

CG: Marketplaces are my area of expertise. I believe there will be exciting growth in “marketplace+” models. These are marketplaces plus something else, such as Marketplace+SaaS or Marketplace+FinTech. Everything will trend this way, whether it be through a vertical SaaS adding a marketplace or a marketplace adding in vertical SaaS.

In this day and age, building a horizontal marketplace is really hard. Most things have already been done, and most marketplaces are cleaving verticals out of a horizontal marketplace. I am looking for businesses that are trying to embed deeper with either the demand or the supply side and build software to capture GMV from horizontal marketplaces.  

SC: How do you ask for the right allocation and predict what you're going to be able to raise?

CG: Early on, I did not know how to predict the amount I could raise. Now, when I see a deal that I have conviction for, I take the bet on raising more than what feels safe. If I feel I’ve found a great deal, I trust other investors will think the same. 

If I know less about a space, I will reach out to angels to get feedback on the deal before I ask for a certain allocation. Often, asking investors for advice will lead to them investing, helping fill the allocation.

Pushing yourself to raise more builds your audience, your LP base, and your network. In turn, that will make it easier to fill your next allocation. I think people get scared they can't raise enough. I'm getting to the point where I'm less concerned about that piece and more concerned about getting the best possible deals. If I can do that, then I know I’ll be able to fill the deal quickly. 

Syndicates are a great way to build a large investing community that shares capital, dealflow, and knowledge. However, launching an investor syndicate can feel like a cold start problem. Much like a marketplace, a successful syndicate must manage the demands and growth from two sides: the LP base and the deal flow. Syndicate leads can feel like they are being stretched in two directions, trying to create the best quality on both sides.

Colin Gardiner knows a thing or two about marketplaces, having worked in leadership positions at companies like Roamly and Outdoorsy. After spending over 5 years as an angel investor, Colin launched the Yonder Ventures syndicate in the fall of 2022 to scale his investing. Since founding Yonder, Colin has run 6 deals and grown his LP base to 200+ investors. We chatted with him to learn more about his experience building a syndicate, how he works with his investor network, and how he works with his investors to inform thesis and dealflow. 

Setting up and growing a syndicate

Sydecar (SC): Why did you decide to start a syndicate? 

Colin Gardiner (CG): After working on four startups and raising over $200M, I started advising a few companies and helping them with fundraising. In doing this, I realized that I was sending these great companies to everyone else when I have a group of friends that I should be inviting to invest. I wanted to help these friends bring in their capital and participate in the upside, so setting up a syndicate was the clear next step. 

SC: What was the set up process like?

CG: When I was ready to get started, I explored a few providers and was struck by how expensive most SPV platforms were.  

That's how I came to Sydecar. I was excited that the fee structure could be flexible with my deal size. Sydecar’s product is private, which is important for me as well. In my first deal, the company didn't want me to send it out broadly. They were concerned about privacy.

SC: How did co-syndicating a deal affect your syndicate?

CG: I launched my second deal in December as a co-syndication with Harry Campbell. Through co-syndication, Harry and I were able to leverage our combined networks, allowing me to reach a new pool of investors. My LP base grew from around 25 investors to almost 200 – just from this one deal. All of a sudden, my deals were filling more quickly. It’s been fulfilling to see these new investors get excited about my deals, give me  feedback, and send referrals to new investors.

SC: Speaking of the growth that you've had, you are a fan of “building in public”, largely through your social media and podcast . Why do you share your journey so openly?

CG: After years of advising startups, I’ve seen how important access to knowledge is. When information is out in the open, the whole ecosystem benefits. Investing is not a zero-sum game. I need to know tons of people to get deal flow. They bring me in on things, and I bring them in.

A lot of my work in launching this syndicate has been talking to people. I want to synthesize and share that knowledge to help people start investing. The more capital that's out there, the more companies can be funded. This gives us more innovation and a better startup ecosystem. 

Understanding the needs of your investor base

SC: You talked about the challenges when you were first starting out, but how have those challenges changed as you grew? 

CG: With over 200 LPs, I am now running into scalability problems. The more deal flow I have, the more time I have to spend on diligence. I can’t send my investors every single deal I get excited about because then my capital pool will be stretched too thin. It’s more important than ever that I pick the deals that will most resonate with my syndicate investors. 

SC: How do you learn what will excite your investors? 

CG: One useful practice I have is that I send a welcome email to every new syndicate member. It describes my investment thesis and where my edge is. It also lists any open deals in the syndicate and asks what they would like to see. I store this information in a large Airtable which allows me to track what each investor likes and which of my deals they have invested in. I am starting to see trends in their interests. This helps me evaluate the likelihood that they'll invest in future deals.

Finding exciting startups and securing allocation

SC: What types of startups are you investing in?

CG: Marketplaces are my area of expertise. I believe there will be exciting growth in “marketplace+” models. These are marketplaces plus something else, such as Marketplace+SaaS or Marketplace+FinTech. Everything will trend this way, whether it be through a vertical SaaS adding a marketplace or a marketplace adding in vertical SaaS.

In this day and age, building a horizontal marketplace is really hard. Most things have already been done, and most marketplaces are cleaving verticals out of a horizontal marketplace. I am looking for businesses that are trying to embed deeper with either the demand or the supply side and build software to capture GMV from horizontal marketplaces.  

SC: How do you ask for the right allocation and predict what you're going to be able to raise?

CG: Early on, I did not know how to predict the amount I could raise. Now, when I see a deal that I have conviction for, I take the bet on raising more than what feels safe. If I feel I’ve found a great deal, I trust other investors will think the same. 

If I know less about a space, I will reach out to angels to get feedback on the deal before I ask for a certain allocation. Often, asking investors for advice will lead to them investing, helping fill the allocation.

Pushing yourself to raise more builds your audience, your LP base, and your network. In turn, that will make it easier to fill your next allocation. I think people get scared they can't raise enough. I'm getting to the point where I'm less concerned about that piece and more concerned about getting the best possible deals. If I can do that, then I know I’ll be able to fill the deal quickly.