While working as Actis‘s Chief Technology Officer, Anup Kumar Adlakha came to two key realizations. Firstly, the opportunity in Africa for alternative investment firms was considerable, and secondly, there was a gap in the market for a software solution to support the typical front and middle office functions of those same firms. So, in 2013 he returned to India after almost six and a half years at Actis and launched PE Front Office Solutions to develop an end-to-end solution that streamlines the front and middle office operational processes core to the roles performed by investment and investor relations teams.
Fast forward nearly 8 years and PE Front Office’s progress has been strong. Having launched the first iteration of its solution in 2015, the company is now implementing its fifth iteration which has proved to be very robust having never crashed. PE Front Office started promoting its services in Africa in 2018, implementing its technology for its first South African client in 2019. Today PE Front Office’s technology is being used in private equity and venture capital firms in South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt.
The company has set its sights on growing its sales in the venture market in Africa over the coming years. To support its expansion ambitions in South Africa, PE Front Office is one of the sponsors of this week’s venture capital conference hosted by the Southern Africa Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, more commonly known as SAVCA. The company estimates there to be 600 Africa-focused venture funds around the world, 400 of which are in Africa itself. The majority of those are in South Africa.
Adlakha’s background in the alternative investment industry has made PE Front Office’s offering an excellent fit for venture firms. Rapid implementations, quick turnarounds, reasonable pricing models, and the company’s depth of domain expertise all match the venture industry’s need for cost-effective, low-risk technology solutions. VCs typically don’t have IT departments, requiring PE Front Office’s teams to interface directly with their customers’ senior investment executives.
With that in mind, Adlakha has placed a great emphasis on hiring the right mix of technology and alternative investment industry expertise. Understanding the typical functions and their associated processes in the front and middle offices of venture firms and other alternative investment firms is key to selling, implementing, and supporting the solutions used by PE Front Office’s clients. In an environment where most processes are still tracked, managed, and reported using Microsoft Excel, the domain expertise of PE Front Office’s account management and technology teams help to design and implement flexible solutions that can be tweaked to accommodate the processing quirks common in most investment firms workflows.
Customers can use PE Front Office to manage a range of processes including CRM, deal flow, fundraising, investment management, portfolio monitoring, fund administration, and investor portal access. The management of these processes is further augmented by modules for risk and compliance management, task and activities management, MS Outlook and Gmail integration, a mobile app, document management functionality as well as access to and output of detailed reports and analytics. Once given the go-ahead, PE Front Office typically implements its solution for a client within 15 days.
PE Front Office is delivered via the cloud, helping clients keep technology hardware investments to a minimum. The firm has adopted a subscription pricing model, charging a monthly fee dependent based on the number of users within a firm and set at a level that recognizes the pressure for venture firms to optimize their costs. Most of the solution is implemented “out of the box” and only requires minimal customization.
PE Front Office is headquartered in Gurgaon just southwest of New Delhi. The company had hoped to open an office in South Africa over the course of 2020 but paused that plan given the COVID-19 pandemic. The firm will now open a South African office in the coming year.