Oct 19, 2023
 in 
Venture Capital

The VC Investor’s Toolkit: The Ultimate List of Must Have Apps and Resources

Author
Hugo Mkhize
V

enture Capital (VC) is an intricate dance of financial expertise, intuition, and the ability to foresee the ‘Next Big Thing’. But in a rapidly evolving world, every VC firm requires more than just instinct: they need the power of technology to bring their investment thesis to life. 

Gone are the days when VC was primarily about face-to-face meetings, gut choices, and manual tracking. Rather, in today’s formulation of the industry: 

  • Technology enables VCs to access vast data troves, automate redundant tasks, and make data-backed decisions. This results in amplified efficiency and productivity.
  • Tools have become indispensable, streamlining crucial workflows such as deal sourcing, due diligence, portfolio surveillance, and investor relations. This not only saves time but paves the way for more relationship building and productive investor-founder interactions.
  • Software plays a pivotal role in centralizing data, providing real-time updates on investments. The outcome? Enhanced transparency for limited partners (LPs).
  • Emerging managers view technology as a crucial ally. It levels the playing field, letting them rub shoulders with the industry titans through more nimble modes of working.

Defining the VC 'Tech Stack'

If VC is the art of investment, the 'tech stack' is the palette of this artistry. It’s the ‘how’ of the investment process. 

A tech stack is essentially the suite of software, apps, and tools leveraged by VCs to streamline their fund management and investment processes. It's a broad spectrum, encompassing tools from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to data analytics, collaborative platforms, portfolio management, and beyond. The essence of a tech stack is to enable automation, standardize operations, and optimize VC workflows. 

Why VCs Care About Their Tech Stack

Wondering why there's so much buzz around the tech stack in VC circles?

  • Competitive Advantage: A tailored tech stack isn’t just about tools. It's a competitive edge, allowing VC funds to move quicker than their competitors.
  • Leveraging Modern Tech: Today, data analytics, machine learning, and automation aren't buzzwords. They're necessities, enabling VCs to make sharper decisions.
  • Managing Complexity: With the investment landscape becoming more convoluted and the broader macro context ever-more volatile, the right tech stack can help to better navigate the complex external environment.
  • Operational Efficiency: Junior VCs can say goodbye to tedious manual processes and spreadsheet chaos. A robust tech stack smoothens the VC journey throughout the VC hierarchy.

The Must Have Apps and Resources within the VC Investors Toolkit

CRM & Dealflow

These are essential tools that track interactions, manage deal pipelines, and ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Must Haves: 4degrees, Affinity, and AngelList

  • 4degrees: Designed with deal-driven teams like VCs in mind, it serves as a robust relationship management tool, enabling efficient tracking of interactions with investors, founders, and other stakeholders. Its user-friendly features and functionalities make it a go-to choice for managing and nurturing crucial connections and workflows, aligning perfectly with the needs of VC professionals in today's dynamic landscape.
  • Affinity: It streamlines deal flow and pipeline management with an intuitive, visually engaging platform, replacing traditional Excel methods. The software provides real-time alerts when team members have prior contact with the person you're emailing, a valuable feature for effective outreach to investors and startups.
  • AngelList: Originally a hub for tech startups seeking angel investors, AngelList has grown into a global matchmaking platform for startups and investors. It offers advanced search features, robust startup data, and seamless integrations with platforms like LinkedIn and Slack. This makes it an indispensable tool for VC professionals, connecting them with promising startups and investment opportunities on a global scale. 
  • Other Examples: Altvia, Attio, Backstop Solutions, Copper, Davigold, DealCloud, Dealfabric, Dialllog, Dynamo, Equity Touch, Finta, Flowlie, folk, FounderSuite, HubSpot, Insightly, Metabeta, Navatar, Pipedrive, Proseeder, Salesforce, Satuit, Scope.money, Streak, Trello, Totem VC, Vantage Software, VC/PE Pro, Xpedition, and Zapflow.

Research & Data

A broad set of resources that provide market insights, highlight trends, and enable data-backed decision-making. Must Haves: Capital IQ, Crunchbase, Gartner, and PitchBook

  • Capital IQ: A vital market intelligence platform that provides a wealth of data and research on public and private companies, offering valuable insights like qualitative data, valuation, financial information, and more. With features such as company screening, real-time workstations, portfolio management, and comprehensive reports, it streamlines the evaluation of potential deals. Seamless integration with Excel makes it a helpful resource for public company valuation data, simplifying comparables analysis and enhancing research for VC teams in established markets.
  • Crunchbase: Offers an extensive dataset to track investment trends, startups, growth industries, and fellow investors. With unique funding insights, CRM integrations, and straightforward connections to Salesforce, Airtable, Google Drive, Zoom, Slack, and Pipedream, it's an industry-standard resource for data-driven investment decisions and staying ahead in the fast-paced world of VC.
  • Gartner: With its comprehensive industry reports and market analysis, it equips VCs with critical information to stay informed about consumer trends, emerging technologies, and competitive landscapes.
  • PitchBook: Offers unique insights into venture valuations and reliable data on private capital markets transactions. Key features include industry overviews, data visualization, and real-time reporting. It also integrates seamlessly with Salesforce, HubSpot CRM, DealCloud, Affinity, and Navatar, enhancing its utility and making it an essential resource for well-informed investment decisions and fundraising efforts. 
  • Other Examples: 451 Research, Abaca, Aberdeen, Acuity Knowledge Partners, Alkymi, Alpha Sense, Alphasights, AMZ Scout, Appfigures, App Radar, Apptopia, App Tweak, Arbolus, Atlas, Atheneum, Attest, Autopsy, Baremetrics, Baromitr, Beauhurst, Bombora, Bullet Point Network, BuiltWith, CapVision, Coleman Research Group, Comparables, Constellation Research, Contora, Coresignal, Dalia Research, Datanyze, Dataprovider, Dealroom, Dialectica, DueDil, Early Metrics, Earnest Research, Eng, Engage, Exploding Topics, Expert Focus, Factiva, Firmnav, Flurry, Forrester, Frost and Sullivan, G2, Gainpro, Github, GLG, Glass.ai, Glimpse, Golden, Grata, Growth Ranker, Guidepoint, Harmonic, Harvest Exchange, IBIS World, IDC, Inex, Innospot, Insightalpha, IT Central Station, Kingscrowd, Kochava, Koble, Kumu, Latka, Live Data Technologies, Lookback, Lynk, Mandate Wired, Mattermark, Maven, Mighty Signal, Mix Rank, Mobbo, ModeFinance, Mobile Action, mnAI, Net Zero Insights, Nextyn, NewtonX, Nr2, Oddup, Omdia, OnFrontiers, Owler, Papers with Code, Parsers, People Data Labs, PredictHQ, PredictLeads, Preqin, Primary Insight, PrivCo, ProSapient, Proxycurl, PublicComps, Quid, Radicle, Revelio Labs, ReviewBolt, reKnowledge, Second Measure, Semrush, Sensor Tower, Sesamm, SimilarWeb, SourceScrub, Specter, StartUs Insights, StartupRadar, Statista, Supertrends, Synaptic, Syfter, Techspert.io, Tegus, TheTool, ThirdBridge, Thinkium, thread, TrustRadius, Unwrangle, Valuer.ai, Venture Source, Vertical Knowledge, Visualping, Watch My Competitor, and Wonder.

Portfolio Management

Keep your finger on the pulse of your investments, track performance, and provide real-time updates to LPs. Must Haves: Carta and VESTBERY

  • Carta: A vital tool for VC professionals, streamlining ownership and equity management. It simplifies portfolio management, cap tables, and equity plans, reducing manual data entry through real-time integration of cap table data and valuations. With features like real-time deal internal rate of return (IRR) and portfolio insights, Carta enhances reporting efficiency, providing LPs with a transparent investment experience.
  • VESTBERRY: Simplifies portfolio management with features like transaction tracking, investment metrics, and LP reporting automation. It streamlines workflow, communication with limited partners, and provides advanced analytics for better investment decisions. This comprehensive tool ensures efficient information management, expedites LP reporting, and eliminates errors.
  • Other Examples: Airr, Atominvest, Aumni, Chronograph, Clockwork, Cobalt GP, Dialllog, DueDash, Edda, eFront, Equity Effect, Fiifi, Fundwave, iLEVEL, Investory, J Curve Portfolio Management, Paperstreet, Quatr, Quantium, Reporting.vc, Rundit, Seraf, Standard Metrics, Tactyc, TheInvestorNet, Totem VC, Venture360, Venturelytic, VenturePort, and Visible.vc.

Fund Administration & Reporting

Think of this as the backstage crew, automating tasks like investor relations, fee calculations, and data management. Must Haves: Airtable and Allocator

  • Airtable: A versatile relational database platform, surpassing Excel's limitations, ideal for tracking fund performance and managing portfolio company data. With workflow automation, native integrations, and collaboration tools, it simplifies complex VC fund administration tasks. Integrations with Zapier, Automate.io, and others expand its functionality, making it a valuable resource.
  • Allocator: Automates data gathering and ensures error-free processes by converting diverse data sources into an easily analyzable format, simplifying monitoring, reporting, and data sharing. The tool helps VCs answer critical questions about fund performance, portfolio diversification, and the value brought by specific general partners (GPs).
  • Other Examples: Accelex, Allvue, Apperio, Ark, assettte, Betterfront, Bite Investment, Carta, Certent, Daappa, Derivatas, Dialllog, Domos, Entrilia, exchangelodge, Floww, Fundpanel, Fundrbird, Investorflow, nthround, Pacific Fund, PE Cube, PE Front Office, PFA Solutions, Qashqade, Quva, Realblocks, Relevant Equity Works, Rundit, Totem VC, Verivend, and VESTBERRY.

Deal Sourcing

Tools designed to discover early-stage opportunities and convert those leads into high-quality deal flow. Must Haves: App Annie, Capterra, Clearbit, Product Hunt, and Sensor Tower.

  • App Annie: Offers crucial insights into mobile market trends and growth opportunities across countries and markets. It excels at identifying emerging players and potential competitors within specific sectors.
  • Capterra: As a technology review platform connecting B2B software sellers to potential buyers, it empowers VC professionals with an extensive database of software solutions and reviews. Additionally, Capterra offers valuable account management features and review generation for vendors.
  • Clearbit: Provides real-time business intelligence to supercharge deal sourcing. With lead enrichment, accurate data sourced from the past 30 days, and API customizability, VC professionals can enhance sourcing and increase successful conversions.
  • Product Hunt: An industry staple offering a streamlined approach to deal sourcing by showcasing the finest new products daily. VC professionals benefit from a platform where product enthusiasts share and delve into the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech innovations.
  • Sensor Tower: Enhances deal sourcing with its comprehensive insights into the mobile app ecosystem. VC professionals rely on Sensor Tower to gain a deep understanding of the factors driving the growth of potential investments. It enables monitoring of crucial metrics such as user retention rates, active users, user demographics, session data, and time spent on the app per user.
  • Other Examples: 73strings, AppSumo, Axial, BetaList, Bounce Watch, CircleUp, Companies House, Connectd, Consilience Ventures, Crowdcube, Cyndx, Databell, Deal Tinder, Empire Flippers, FE International, Flippa, FounderNest, FuelUp, Fundable, FundersClub, Funderbeam, Fundsup, Graypes, Gust, Hackernews, Harmonic, Indiegogo, Kaiku, Larvato, LeadLoft, Microacquire, Microventures, Netcapital, N2 Technology, Novable, OpenScout, OpenVC, OurCrowd, Qodeo, Raized.ai, Republic, RocketDAO, Seedscout, Seedinvest, ShipShape, Siphter ScreenBox, StackShare, Startengine, SuperWarm AI, The World’s First Co-Pilot for VC, Thunder.vc, Valu8, Venture IQ, Ventroduce, and Wefunder.

Infrastructure & Document Management

Beyond just software, these are the foundational service providers helping with tasks like Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) set up and management, contract review and signing as well as file storage. Must Haves: DocuSign, Dropbox, and Google Drive

  • DocuSign: Simplifies document management with its electronic signature and contract management capabilities. VC professionals rely on DocuSign to ensure simple and efficient signing, secure storage, and easy categorization and retrieval of critical documents.
  • Dropbox and Google Drive: VC professionals rely on these tools for secure and efficient storage and sharing of due diligence documents. 
  • Other Examples: Allocations, AngelList, Ark, Bunch, Carta, Delio, Fairmint, flow, Fundformer, Fundsub, Katipult, Lemonedge, Leva, Odin, Party Round, Passthrough, portagon, Roundtable, Startup Galaxy, Syndicate, Syndicately, Sydecar, Verivend, and Vestlane.

Fund Modeling, Cap Table / Equity Management & Liquidity Instruments

These tools enable you to harness financial models to crystalize your fund's investment strategy, leverage cap table tools for streamlined equity management, and tap into modern liquidity avenues in the secondary markets. Must Haves: Betterfront.

  • Betterfront: Serves as a secondary marketplace for buying and selling LP interests in private equity and venture capital funds. This platform connects sellers with institutional secondary buyers and offers buyers access to a diverse range of secondary fund opportunities. Betterfront also provides valuable fundraising software to engage and retain investors.
  • Other Examples: Astrella, Aurigin, CapDesk, Capboard, Carta, Cake, Equity Zen, EQVISTA, Forge, Global Shares, Intralinks (Deal Nexus), Ledgy, Merger Market, Orchestra.io, Pulley, Quoroom, Securitize, Shareworks, Shoobx, Stableton Financial, Tactyc, Tail & Skew, Templum, Tokeny Solutions, VESTBERRY, and Venture Analytic.

Scheduling & Project Management

Embrace scheduling and project management tools to master your calendar and drive firm-wide alignment on goals and tasks. Must Haves: Calendly, Clara, Notion, and Slack.

  • Calendly: VC professionals rely on Calendly to simplify the process of coordinating meetings, saving valuable time that would otherwise be spent on extensive email exchanges. With easily shareable availability links and integrated analytics to track meeting funnels, Calendly streamlines scheduling workflows.
  • Clara: In VC, where time is of the essence, Clara lightens the burden of meeting scheduling, eliminating the time-consuming back-and-forth of coordinating availability. With its email integration, Clara serves as a virtual assistant, simplifying the scheduling process and enhancing productivity.
  • Notion: An indispensable part of the VC tech stack, especially for managing knowledge and notes. Notion provides VC firms with a central hub to create, categorize, and search notes efficiently. With features like collaboration tools, content management, and task management, Notion facilitates seamless teamwork and information sharing.
  • Slack: A cornerstone of efficient communication within VC firms. It enables teams to collaborate, share information, and stay organized, fostering efficient project management. The platform's real-time messaging, file sharing, and integrations with other essential tools make it an invaluable asset for enhancing productivity and keeping everyone in the loop, whether it's for internal team coordination or external partner engagement.
  • Other Examples: Asana, Cal.com, Cron, Doodle, Katch, Monday, Sketchnote, timing.is, Vimcal, and Zcal.

Email & Video Conferencing

Elevate your email efficiency and master virtual interactions with tailored tools, ensuring crystal-clear communications with founders and LPs. Must Haves: Mixmax and Superhuman.

  • Mixmax: A game-changer in the email automation landscape for VC professionals. This browser extension, seamlessly integrated with Gmail, empowers users to maximize their email communication's efficiency. With features like email tracking, scheduled sequences, and robust integrations with other essential tools, Mixmax provides a comprehensive solution for VC teams.
  • Superhuman: A valuable email client tailored to enhance the efficiency of VCs. Its key features include customizable snippets, keyboard shortcuts for quick actions, natural language processing for intuitive email composition, instant unsubscribes to declutter your inbox, scheduled message sending, and real-time read statuses.
  • Other Examples: Cabal, Gmelius, Sessions, Spark, tl;dv, WebEx, Wherby, Zoom.

Website, Newsletter, and Community

Leverage cutting-edge tools for website building, streamlined newsletters, and fostering community among your portfolio companies, encapsulating the modern VC's platform-centric approach. Must Haves: LinkedIn, Mailchimp, Medium, and X (formerly Twitter).

  • LinkedIn: Renowned for its vast professional network, LinkedIn serves as a must have tool for VC professionals seeking to connect, foster community, and disseminate newsletters effectively. In the relationship-driven world of VC, LinkedIn's comprehensive platform empowers practitioners to build and nurture vital connections with investors, founders, and experts, making it an essential asset for community engagement and newsletter distribution.
  • Mailchimp: A foundational newsletter platform that serves as a valuable resource for VC firms. It offers the capability to send newsletters to up to 2,000 contacts and features include a marketing CRM, customizable email templates, in-depth analytics, and audience insights, all of which facilitate effective communication with stakeholders. Integrations with platforms like Canva, WordPress, LinkedIn, and others enhance the process of content distribution via email and social media channels.
  • Medium: Offers a user-friendly interface, making it accessible for VC teams to publish insightful articles, updates, and thought leadership pieces. The platform's built-in audience and following system also enables firms to reach a broader readership and build a community around their content.
  • X (formerly Twitter): With its social curation and rapid updates, it simplifies the task of tracking relevant blogs and industry developments. By following reliable sources on X, VC teams can efficiently stay informed about early-stage ecosystems. Many firms combine X with RSS readers like Feedly to catalog tweets and organize data, ensuring they remain well-connected and up-to-date on the companies and industries that are vital to their investment strategies. 
  • Other Examples: BlazeBegin, Circle, Magic Design, Mailerlite, Medium, Meltingspot, Squarespace, Substack, tribe, Webflow, and WordPress.

Strategically Choosing the Right Tech Stack for You

Crafting the ideal tech stack is akin to creating a custom toolkit specifically designed for your firm’s strategy. Here are some considerations to get the most out of the design approach:

  • Address Pain Points: Before diving in, identify the bottlenecks and processes craving optimization. Align tools accordingly.
  • Growth Stage Matters: For early-stage funds, deal sourcing tools might be paramount. As you grow, portfolio management might take center stage.
  • Integration is Key: Ensure your tools weave seamlessly into one another, creating a cohesive tech ecosystem.
  • Technical Know-how: Be realistic about your in-house tech capabilities. It will influence whether to opt for out-of-the-box solutions or bespoke platforms.
  • Cost vs. Value: Look beyond the price tag. Consider ongoing costs and balance them against the tangible (and intangible) value offered.
  • Future-proof Your Stack: The tech realm is dynamic. Opt for scalable tools that can adapt as the VC landscape shifts.

Conclusion: Your Tailored Tech Toolkit Awaits

In the competitive world of VC, agility, foresight, and efficiency are non-negotiable. The right tech stack isn't a mere accessory; it's your guiding compass, your ally, your force multiplier.

As you stand on the precipice of choice, consider the trajectory you envision for your firm. Let your strategy dictate your tech decisions, and remember that in the fluid domain of VC, the strength of your tech stack is paramount.

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