A day in the life – Covid edition

Ellie Boardman joined DSW Ventures as an Investment Executive in October. Several months on (two being spent under lockdown) she talks us through a day working from home in her not-so-new role.

Ellie Boardman


Sit down at my desk and catch up on emails. Each morning I scroll through newsletters, keeping an eye out for anything that could be relevant for our portfolio companies and potential prospects, as well as any events that might be worth attending. We also keep a record of any new VC deals so we can see what’s happening in the market – I spot an announcement on a business we were considering investing in a few months ago and mention to Keith who emails the founder to congratulate him on the raise.


Time for the first video call of the day for our weekly team meeting. We work through the agenda, first catching up on the deal we’re currently working towards completion on and discuss any actions. The latest drafts of the legals need chasing and there are some outstanding due diligence queries which need discussing with the management team. The presentation to investors is also coming up; usually held in the office, this will be our first remote investor presentation. We discuss expected (virtual) attendance, timings and schedule in a dry-run webinar to make sure we’re on top of the techy side of things!

We then run down any calls with startups we’ve had in the past week, discussing whether to progress. We decide to arrange a follow-up meeting with one of the most promising prospects, before moving onto the week’s new applicants. This takes up a big chunk of the meeting with usually between 10 and 20 applicants to get through, all requiring discussion and debate. We decide who we’d like to set up a call with, who we need a little more information from and who isn’t quite right for us. We allocate out the actions and have a quick coffee break before moving onto general operations.


Being sort of a startup ourselves, there’s a lot to cover on the ops and marketing front. Keith talks through our SEO strategy and we share content ideas for the new website. We also have our own board meeting coming up, so we discuss some ideas that we’d like to raise and prepare an agenda.

team meeting


Zoom meeting with a potential new investment. It’s a great meeting – a SaaS business with a strong management team and good early traction. We chat through next steps and agree to go away and have a think about valuation. Once wrapped up, I do some further digging into the competitors mentioned in the meeting before heading out for a quick lunchtime run – a nice lockdown addition to my daily routine.


Catch up on emails then get started on my to-do list. We are searching for a non-executive chairperson for one of our prospects so I do some research on potential candidates. I then spend some time working on a flyer to be sent to various introducers and contacts, summarising what we do and how we do it. A lot of leads come through our network so it’s important for people to know what we’re looking for. Next, some further due diligence information comes in. I work through it and discuss findings with David and Keith. We raise a couple of matters to be discussed at the first board meeting following completion.


Call with a potential new angel. They are interested in joining the network and also work with a couple of businesses who are looking to raise funds. We agree to send over some further information to get them signed up as an investor and they agree to send over the business plans – a productive meeting.


Time for an online pitch event. Prior to Covid I’d attend one or two of these events each month, usually in Manchester city centre with the occasional trip to Leeds or Newcastle. With the transition to virtual events, we’ve been able to attend events from all over the country which we’d otherwise not be able to squeeze in, so it’s been great to be able to see so many businesses during the lockdown period. After the event I circulate notes to the team, we agree on a couple of businesses we’d like to see more of and I contact the event organisers to ask for introductions to the founders.


Catch up on emails, put a couple of meetings in the diary and capture the new applicants that have filtered in over the course of the afternoon. I tie up a few loose ends on the latest due diligence work and prepare tomorrow’s to-do list before calling it a day.