Notion’s versatility sets a remarkably high industry benchmark. One could simply start using it on Day One to replace EverNote or OneNote with minimal ramp-up time. Adding Kanban boards or Airtable-like features are merely a few clicks away, however. That exact nature may explain why a smaller organization (eg a boot-strapped startup) would find this flexibility invaluable. A larger organization may not embrace such a bottom-up governance approach.

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Notion’s versatility could also be its own biggest threat. How would you categorize what Notion exactly does? Productivity is too ambiguous an answer while database, calendaring or project management is only…


Airtable revolutionizes the boring concept of relational database by gifting business users the benefits of NoSQL database (e.g. MongoDB, Cassandra, Amazon’s DynamoDB). It expertly fills the void between Excel, Access, SQL and NoSQL databases, and even FileMaker Pro!

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Airtable offers ultimate flexibility and accessibility. Gone are the days when you must spend a significant portion of efforts with schema and data dictionary design upfront. Database development and management can now be truly iterative. That mate very well with agile development methodologies.

The graphical nature of the platform spares users from possessing prerequisite knowledge of Structured Query Language (SQL) and…

The desire of writing this article stems from my present circumstances during shelter-in-place. Few things I struggle with working remotely include:

  • Running out of monitor real estate on a single monitor.
  • Inability to print with a laser printer and company-supplied ink cartridges.
  • Exhaustion from scrolling endlessly in Excel files that have way too many columns.

The last pain point manifests daily since my numerous projects mandate frequent interactions with large Excel files. Not having the usual office setup creates additional challenges. When a spreadsheet grows, it invariably becomes wider (more columns) and taller (more rows). That means lots of scrolling.

I recently won the honor of bringing a few dozen people up to speed with Atlassian Jira. The directive was to get a cross-functional 40+ team (from investment, finance, legal and PMO), which had never heard of Jira or bug tracking software before, to compose user stories and communicate as productively as humanly feasible.

How did I crack the case? I decided to write an article (that you are now reading) in order to become an expert in a hurry! Learning never stops.

This post is a portion of the entire brain dump that is most relevant to project/product managers…

Clothes are not one size fits all. Neither should your Backstop instance be.

The Backstop team has answered our prayers with the recent release of Client-Defined Entities (CDE). This functionality allows the use of terminology and lingo most familiar to us. Instead of creating generic Organizations, we create bespoke entities like Clients, Venture Groups, Portfolio Companies. Each entity type has its own tailored views, maximizing good use of screen real estate.

Fortune favors the bold. Our team jumped on the bandwagon upon the product release and successfully completed its conversion within a few days. …

It is no secret that I’m a big fan of leveraging Backstop Excel Toolkit (ETK) and Report Builder to extract actionable insight out of Backstop CRM. Fresh data comes out on a silver platter with a simple mouse click; life can hardly get better than that.

It can actually get better than that! Let’s first run through a quick Pros & Cons analysis of this workflow.


  • On-demand access to fresh raw data to all end users with ETK installed
  • Division of labor between administrators/power users and end users
  • Opportunities to develop custom reporting and analytics within Excel


  • Report…

“Always be closing!”, I screamed. A handful of BUC 2018 attendees (who hadn’t fallen asleep yet) burst out laughing at my amateurish onstage attempt to impersonate Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992).

When running Backstop with Preqin integrated, you automate and offload the bulk of data collection efforts. With the extra bandwidth, you can focus on fostering relationships and qualitative data instead.

Let’s apply the AIDA technique (Attention, Interest, Decision, Action as seen in the movie). We will create two Backstop reports, throw in some Excel magic and upload the linked records back to Backstop.

Attention — Preqin Sourcing

The first report pulls…

Mergers and acquisitions happen. As do good and bad exits. More favorable exit ratio intuitively sparks more joy. When such events take place, how do you keep your Backstop data tidy? Borrowing techniques from Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, a trending Netflix show, we aim to spark joy and restore mindfulness, with the help of Backstop Note Upload Tool.

Every Backstop Note has a semi-permanent home. Once created, that given Note is associated with an Attached To value that cannot be revised in a web browser. …

First of all, many congrats to Backstop who was recently awarded the 2018 Best Data and Technology Provider by CIO Magazine, while everybody was busy at holiday parties. We the customers will surely reap the benefits from all the exciting innovations in the pipeline.

With that said, let’s jump straight back to business and resume our lifelong learning journey. Happy 2019!

Choosing Identities

We dissected the Backstop Party ID in Part I: Backstop Identity Search and will now move onto another little-known secret, searching by Backstop IDs. All Backstop activity objects (Note, Document, Meeting, Call, and Email) are given one. Do not…

It’s been only a few months since Backstop User Conference (BUC) 2018, the Backstop product team has been relentlessly enhancing the core platform by adding many features. When their marketing invited me to speak at Backstop Hong Kong Connect, I jumped out my chair out of excitement!

Journey to Pearl of the Orient

Arrived at HKG fresh as a daisy, thanks to those cozy Allbirds wool sneakers and eye mask!
Fighting jetlag upon arrival in Hong Kong
Ultimate prep

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Backstop/Horsley Bridge Partners Case Study

LinkedIn Backstop User Forum

Kenneth’s blog articles on Backstop

Originally published at Kenneth Lo, PMP.

Kenneth Lo, PMP

FinTech / Private Equity / Venture Capital

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