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Silicon Foundry builds a network made of gold over 5 years with Copper

Perfecting the warm handoff as a business advisory firm and tech innovation matchmaker

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Playing a dynamic role as a matchmaker between corporations and emerging tech companies, Silicon Foundry is a consultancy that specializes in innovation and corporate venture advisory. As a relatively small team of a few dozen specialists, their technology is central to keeping processes running and all of the pieces working together smoothly.

With a huge and growing global network to wrangle, the leadership team knew they needed a central platform for managing end-to-end relationships. After the company’s initial CRM solution, a Salesforce product, ended up being ill-suited for their company’s size and needs, they began the search anew and discovered Copper.

We sat down with Neal Hansch, CEO and Managing Partner, to learn about Silicon Foundry's adoption of Copper. In a nutshell? The CRM system has introduced notable efficiencies into nearly every aspect of their business, becoming a cornerstone of their ongoing growth — To the point that Copper usage is even built into their bonus structure.

“As a professional services business, our product is ourselves. The main way for us to increase efficiency is through improving our processes. And leveraging technology platforms like Copper is a big part of that,” Neal explains. Let’s dive in.

Serving up warm introductions thanks to centralized data

As a consulting firm, Silicon Foundry specializes in making critical introductions between its client members — large multinational corporations — and its “suppliers” — technology innovators such as startups, entrepreneurs and the venture capitalists that back them. Their business model hinges on the curated and warm introduction … which eventually leads to any range of business engagements, from partnerships, to strategic investments, and even acquisitions.

To effortlessly deliver these warm connections, it’s critical to keep meticulous track of every contact in their team’s collective rolodex. Not only do they need to know which players are up-and-coming in every industry, they need to have warm relationships with those players. And every consultant must be able to easily and quickly find out who in the company owns each relationship. All the pieces must be finely orchestrated to achieve the desired outcome.

When Neal and his colleagues realized their previous CRM, acquired by Salesforce, was no longer serving their needs, they had the opportunity to look for a new solution that helped them capture, index and maintain these relationships more effectively and efficiently.

They needed a system that could act as a central space for institutional knowledge spanning prospects and supply-side relationships alike.

Copper vs. Affinity CRM: A head-to-head

The Silicon Foundry team was familiar with the founders of Copper (then ProsperWorks), so they put it to the test against Affinity and other market players. Though Affinity had key strengths in a couple areas, Neal and colleagues were looking for a more all-encompassing solution that enabled them to manage relationships all the way through the client journey. They were confident that Copper would enable just that, helping them track and engage with thousands of contacts on both the client and supply side.

When it comes down to features, they specifically chose Copper for:

  • G-suite integration. The platform’s automated syncing with Gmail — and later Google Calendar and Drive — was a major draw.

  • No-code customizability. Neal was particularly drawn by Copper’s flexibility to adapt key features like pipelines to their internal workflows, which was essential for their unique business processes.

  • Easy setup. The speed and simplicity of implementation were crucial for a fast-paced company, with Copper’s onboarding process further aiding with initial set up.

Copper fits seamlessly into the company’s larger tech lineup, which also includes Google Workspace, Slack, Notion, Asana and Benchmark Email.

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Overhauling the sales process with Copper

With employees across the business using Copper, it has been particularly instrumental to the team’s business development efforts. A few areas where they’ve found significant value include:

Contact tagging for easy segmentation

Easily locating the right contacts quickly is the name of the game. Silicon Foundry tags users by contact type to easily identify members versus suppliers. They also dial in location and industry details to enable quick filtering based on a range of criteria.

Customized sales pipelines

The team maintains two main sales pipelines that align with their service delivery model: New Business and Renewals. Since their membership for corporations is annual, building a separate pipeline for renewals made sense. Neal worked with his sales group to define customized stages for each pipeline that align with their sales process.

LinkedIn integration (via Surfe)

As relationship builders, LinkedIn is central to Silicon Foundry’s toolbox. Copper’s LinkedIn integration, facilitated by Surfe, has been a game changer for the team. With Copper connected to the team’s LinkedIn accounts, they can add new contacts straight from LinkedIn — while also viewing existing contacts’ Copper records from within the social platform.

“The Surfe integration with LinkedIn is a massive time-saver for us. Not even having to leave the LinkedIn environment to view the Copper data is icing on the cake.” -Neal Hansch, CEO & Managing Partner

But what about team buy-in? Neal’s the first to admit that he’s taken a different approach to facilitating team adoption. After trying out a few different methods, he decided to incorporate Copper usage into the firm’s bonus structure. “Consistent Copper usage is a direct part of the sales team’s annual bonus calculation. We made it very tangible. It really helps drive the usage and importance of the need to be contributing to Copper," Neal says.

Counting the results

Implementing Copper five years ago has significantly improved Silicon Foundry’s processes across the board. With structured pipelines and easily accessible prospect and supplier data, the entire team has enjoyed efficiencies that empower them to focus on what they’re good at — connecting people.

Since adopting Copper in 2018, Silicon Foundry has been adding hundreds of new entries every month; a testament to the platform’s central role across the lifespan of client and supplier-side relationships.

We use Copper for the inbound and outbound of our business, both to sell and to service. It touches all parts of our business, rather than just serving as a sales pipeline or our client rolodex.
Neal Hansch, Silicon Foundry CEO & Managing Partner

For a consulting firm that built its reputation on dealing in relationships, Copper is just what they needed to continue maintaining and growing their network.

Looking ahead

There’s always more to come. Neal looks forward to diving deeper into Copper’s capabilities, particularly exploring its reporting functions and potentially integrating email marketing tools.

With their continued partnership with Copper, Silicon Foundry is poised to maintain its growth trajectory and success in the advisory business.

As a comprehensive customer relationship platform, Copper is proud to be a continued partner in Silicon Foundry’s growth as a consultancy. We look forward to seeing what else is on the horizon.

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