TritonLake: The Journey So Far
Q and A with Founder and CEO, Conor Smyth
Like most entrepreneurs, TritonLake founder, Conor Smyth, started with a spark – a dream of something different. That manifested itself in 2015, and now, five years later, amid a pandemic, it is flourishing. Here, an insight into the dream and what lies ahead for our industry.
Q: Tell us about what inspired you to launch TritonLake?
A: I identified and was tracking the trend of wealth management teams leaving the wirehouses and private banks to form independent entities – along with their desire to be in control of their own economic destiny, they felt restricted in terms of the investment opportunities they could bring to their clients. In particular, the teams that managed the portfolios of ultra-high net worth individuals and families had a requirement for differentiated alternative investments – and I set about building a network of like-minded firms, for all of whom investment sourcing and due diligence was part of their value proposition. Fast forward to today, and we have supplemented our network of single and multi-family offices with outsourced chief investment officers (OCIOs), fund-of-funds, and other institutional investors.
It was clear from talking to these investors that most of their interest was in the smaller and emerging end of the fund-raise spectrum – most of the GPs we work with are raising funds smaller than $1 billion and in many cases, less than $500 million. These GPs oftentimes do not have networks to raise capital from directly, and now more than ever, they will need help to raise their funds.
My dream was to create something that was differentiated – not just in terms of the network and the quality of the private market and alternative investment opportunities we brought to them, but by HOW we interacted with our network. I wanted to create something that was fundamentally differentiated in terms of how we communicated – our network is a network of relationships; we understand what they like and don't like and how they like to hear about it. Our interaction has evolved with time, and earlier this year we launched our online portal, where our investor network can browse available investment opportunities. This month, we rolled out our monthly highlights email, which is personalized to show each investor the investments which should be of most interest to them. It turns out that these initiatives have been particularly impactful during the pandemic and that’s a trend that we expect to continue into the future.
We are committed to making our investors' interactions with TritonLake as efficient as possible – so that they can quickly get to and action the opportunities that should be a good fit. For the GPs we partner with, we solve the other side of this equation – getting their fund in front of the people that are most likely to be interested.
Q: How has the landscape changed since then?
A: The number of funds coming to market had been increasing year-on-year, making the universe of opportunities to wade through more overwhelming than ever before. Even though the pandemic has brought its fair share of uncertainty and operational challenges, the number of new fund launches has remained high, and the task of the investment allocator to stay on top of available opportunities is unenviable - this has been made even more challenging in the current working environment. Additionally, there has been and continues to be a transition of assets from other asset classes (primarily traditional investments and hedge funds) into private markets. This makes our value proposition more relevant than ever – helping to solve this equation between investors and opportunities in as efficient a manner as possible.
Q: 2020 has certainly been different – what is your advice to those looking to fundraise now?
A: Given the continued uncertainty around business travel and face-to-face meetings, the biggest question mark for most GPs looking to raise a fund is ""How long am I going to be in the market"?". I think the safest answer to this question is that it is more likely for managers that this is 12-18 months as opposed to the 6-12 months it may have been a year ago.
It also goes without saying that the easier you can make it for an investor to underwrite your fund, the better. Without a strong investment thesis, a team that has experience working together on that thesis, and a track record (ideally with realizations) providing the evidence that they are the right team – you are asking the investor to take a leap of faith. Taking a leap of faith in an environment where face-to-face meetings are almost impossible is highly unlikely – so make sure your story stacks up, and you can deliver the information above.
Q: What is the most common question you get asked?
A: The most common questions we get asked by GPs are as you would expect – how much can you raise, how long will it take you to raise it, and who are the top 10 investors that are going to be interested in my fund? Of course – if we knew the answers to those questions for every fund we spoke to, our job would be easy! Thankfully, our continued investment in technology is helping us to answer these questions as best as we can, and we will get even better with time.
Q: If you had a crystal ball – what, if any, changes do you predict for the future of our industry?
A: I think the two most significant changes will be the accelerated adoption of technology in the industry, and changes to regulation to allow more (appropriate) investors than ever before to access private markets. At TritonLake, we plan on playing a significant role in both of these areas and I am looking forward to continuing the evolution and the journey that I started 5 years ago!