Bigin empowers Hillside Ventures to close more deals and increase accountability

Greg ReillyStrategy Professor, Hillside Ventures

The company

Hillside Ventures is a venture capital organization founded by the University of Connecticut (UConn) that focuses on backing innovative startups. The organization is funded by $1M in donations and uses that money to invest about $25,000 in each startup.

But their mission goes beyond just funding; they offer UConn students a unique opportunity to gain real-world experience in venture capitalism. Every year, interested students can enroll in a course that enables them to invest in exciting startups while learning from a team of successful alumni mentors. This program fosters entrepreneurial growth on campus, encourages participation from diverse student backgrounds, and opens doors to future careers in private equity.

Currently, around 50 to 60 students work at Hillside Ventures. Before graduating, these students recruit the next batch to join the organization.

The challenge

For two years, Hillside Ventures faced limitations with their existing system, which lacked user-friendliness and efficiency. Seeking a solution, Professor Greg Reilly eventually received a recommendation from a UConn alumnus: Bigin by Zoho CRM. After a thorough evaluation, Reilly was confident that Bigin's capabilities aligned perfectly with their needs.

The solution

"Bigin's been a game-changer for our organization. Everything is now organized in one central location—no more information scattered across Slack, Teams, and Drive! This has made a huge difference in our efficiency."

Laura BraddickSenior Manager, Hillside Ventures

The organization uses Bigin to manage four important processes:

  • Finding startups: Students search for promising startups on platforms like Crunchbase, LinkedIn, and X. Bigin helps them track their progress via a series of custom business stages, including searching, connecting, pitching to the board, and due diligence, as well as closed, on hold, and rejected deals.
  • Recruitment: Bigin helps Hillside Ventures manage the process of recruiting the next batch of students, which includes stages like outreach, connecting, scheduling meetings, and conducting interviews, as well as accepted, on hold, and rejected candidates.
  • Organizing prospect and company data: All details related to targeted prospects or clients get fed into their respective modules.
  • Obtaining business insights: The team uses dashboards extensively to track the number of contacts they create each month, the organization's top lead sources, the flow of deals by stage, and the overall number of sourced companies by value.

    "Bigin's been a fantastic tool for us, both functionally and as a learning experience. We use it every day to track sourced companies, contacts we meet, and the people we're interacting with. One of the biggest benefits has been accountability. Bigin gives us clear visibility into how many companies are being sourced and how many deals are progressing—and it prevents deals from getting stuck in the same stage unnoticed."

    Laura BraddickSenior Manager, Hillside Ventures

    Looking forward

    The Hillside Ventures team is actively expanding their use of Bigin; they plan to implement additional pipelines and leverage Bigin's built-in email functionality to streamline communications with prospects.

    • Industry typeVenture Capital
    • Employees
    • Type of businessPrivate Limited
    • Previously Used Software