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How Gridline built a superior subscription agreement experience with Anvil

Fintechs use embedded Anvil Workflows and Etch e-signatures to turn lengthy financial forms into Turbo Tax-like flows in their products. Learn how Gridline turned subscription agreements for private market funds into a guided online flows that saves their investors time and frustration.

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The company

The most common entry point into investing is buying stock in a publicly-traded company. However, public companies are just one asset class. From real estate to innovative pre-IPO companies, there are a variety of other financial instruments for investors looking to go beyond what’s publicly traded in the private markets.

Traditionally, private market investments are made by funds with managers who use their expertise to execute an investment strategy they believe will result in the best returns. Fintechs like Gridline provide a critical layer of best-in-class technology and curation with their platform for both funds and investors looking to buy into them.

  • For investors, Gridline creates a seamless and secure way of buying into top private market funds that have been expertly vetted to make it onto the platform.
  • For funds, Gridline provides access to its members’ capital and a suite of tools for operationalizing their investor relations.

The problem

In order for investors to buy into private market funds, they must sign a subscription agreement. Much of the private market investment industry still uses physical copies and wet signatures, while others are beginning to scratch the surface of automating the subscription process. In order to deliver the top-tier experience its members (RIAs, family offices, and high net worth individuals) expect and strengthen its competitive advantage, Gridline wanted to build an in-app flow for e-signing subscription docs that felt as seamless and trustworthy as every other aspect of its product.

Initially, Gridline’s product team was looking for an API-first e-signature solution they could embed into their app and style to look like their brand. At the same time, they were  weighing the possibility of building their own e-sign solution if they couldn’t find something that met their UX standards.

When Peter Bilali, Gridline’s VP of Platform, happened upon Anvil in the course of this search, he thought he had found an “e-signature platform with a great API”.  Peter quickly discovered Anvil Workflows, which opened up a whole new set of possibilities (and product roadmap priorities).

Beyond improving upon a pen and paper or “out-of-flow” digital signing experience, Gridline believed there were 3 pain points (opportunities) to streamline the end-to-end subscription agreement experience.

  1. These subscription agreements  are long (30-50 pages), complex documents with many questions a first time (or experienced) investor is often unsure of how to answer. Without a guided process, questions are answered incorrectly, creating costly round trips with legal teams ( not to mention stress for investors).
  2. Even though much of the information required to subscribe to most funds offered in Gridline is the same, there are seemingly endless iterations in the long tail of fund-specific supporting documents, follow-up questions, and signature requirements. An automated process that encompasses 99% of those permutations would save time for all parties involved.
  3. Legal teams update the investing agreements annually, which require engineers to make code changes to conform to the updated docs. Ask any engineer and they’ll tell you; this is not enjoyable or stimulating work – it’s something to automate away.

Ultimately, Gridline wanted to address all these pain points with the subscription agreement flow in their platform. They had already ruled out building it themselves; the overhead of updating their application each time a new document type was needed was far too onerous (also: annoying, unenjoyable). Not to mention the time and resources to do the initial build and ongoing maintenance. The team needed something flexible that could accommodate all the variations of subscription agreements in Gridline.


The solution

Once he understood the flexibility and power of Anvil Workflows, Peter’s project changed from just implementing e-signatures to building an entire “Turbo-tax like” subscription agreement flow in Gridline - something that was on his long term roadmap, but realized he’d be able accomplish faster and with fewer resources than he originally planned.

Today, when a member wants to make a new investment, Gridline pre-fills the associated Anvil Workflow with information from their investor registrar and exposes any additional questions or signatures within the platform to complete the subscription. The member stays in their secure, logged-in session the entire time and the entire user-facing experience is white-labeled with Gridline’s branding.

subscription docA snapshot of a subscription doc PDF and how Gridline clients will interact with it..

The result

Ultimately, Gridline delivered a great product experience for their members while avoiding costly pitfalls many product-driven companies make when they start building document workflows.

When building something as core to their product, technical teams often think to build it themselves to have complete control over the user experience. However, they usually end up dedicating more engineering resources to building and maintaining their document infrastructure rather than differentiating features. By using Anvil Workflows with Etch e-signatures, Gridline was able to build an in-app experience that trims each investor’s time spent on subscription agreements from hours to under 5 minutes (and shaved months off their roadmap).

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