The tools and tips investors use to run their funds.
Most fund managers have very little control over the outcome of their portfolio companies. Yes, they can play a critical role in moments, but it’s the founders and team that primarily influence a company’s success or failure.
So, if an investor can’t control the outcome, how can they maximize their chances of building a successful fund? The key is in their process. That is in their control. And the tools they use are often a big part of that. This is especially true for emerging managers and small funds where automation and tools can give small teams leverage.
In this post, we asked 20 investors about their fund stack – the tools they use to source startups, manage deal flow, diligence companies, communicate with their LPs, and more. We also teamed up with some of the tools mentioned to secure deals for Signature Block subscribers.
If you only have a few minutes, here are some takeaways to consider on VC fund stacks:ﾠ
- The strategy should define the stack. The diversity in tools below reflects the diversity in fund strategies. Tools should be in service of a specific goal or strategy that leverages the team’s unique strengths. For example, Yohei from Untapped Ventures has a unique product and engineering background that informs his developer tools-heavy tool selection.
- Efficiency gains come from combining tools into bespoke stacks and workflows. Integrations and automation is the key. Many fund managers use Zapier, native integrations, and APIs to connect their stack and streamline their workflows.
- Tools don’t just save time, but they also help enforce processes. Encoding processes in tools ensures that steps aren’t missed. For example, at Weekend Fund we use Front to co-write email drafts which pop into our inbox and ensure important communications aren’t missed.
Shout out to Andy Chung (tiny.vc); Ariana Thacker (Conscience VC); Ben Tossell (Ben’s Bites Fund); Bryan Rosenblatt (Craft Ventures); Elizabeth Yin, Eric Bahn, and Will Bricker (Hustle Fund); Eric Slesinger (201 Ventures); Jeff Morris Jr., Dakota Torres; Lauren Hill; and Doug Dyer (Chapter One); Julia Lipton (Awesome People Ventures); Daniel Rumennik (AirAngels); Leo Polovets (Susa Ventures); Lolita Taub (Ganas Ventures); Mark Scianna (Forward Deployed VC); Nick Davidov and Marina Davidova (Davidovs Venture Collective); Nikhil Basu Trivedi (Footwork); Vijen Patel (81 Collection); and Yohei Nakajima (Untapped Capital) for contributing to this post.
And here are the recommended tools for…
Messaging & Community Management
Many funds use messaging tools to communicate with their team, but also with others in their network including portfolio founders, LPs, and co-investors.
Investing is a relationship-driven business and some find less formal chat-based communications more personable and efficient when collaborating with others. Some funds also use Slack, WhatsApp, Telegram, and similar tools to manage their communities.
When picking a messaging tool, fund managers often go where their recipient lives (hence, we often use numerous apps to communicate).
“We use Discord for communicating with our community fund-wide announcements and memes. We have separate channels for each portfolio company where we add the founders, post their updates, and have the community suggest helpful intros.” – Marina Davidova, Davidovs Venture Collective
“Slack is a great community tool for alumni and investor networks. I’m in nine such workspaces, and about half my deals last year originated from leads or contacts I first made on Slack. It’s easy to create Slack alerts for keywords you care about to ensure you don’t miss potential leads.” – Mark Scianna, Forward Deployed VC
“AIM but for the 21st century adults. Nothing beats it.” – Will, Hustle Fund
“Slack is a central hub for all team communications. When we add a new company to our pipeline in Airtable, Zapier creates a #deal-company-name channel to centralize all discussion and diligence. This is especially useful when we need to look back at our notes when reviewing relevant opportunities.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
“We use Slack for internal communications, managing a community of our LPs and founders. We have a general channel for all LPs+founders, a private channel for founders (to learn and share with each other) and a private channel we use to discuss things in real time (includes deals).” – Daniel Rumennik, AirAngels
“Internal comms with Airtable and Notion integrations for notifications. We also run a separate Slack for our community of founders.” – Andy Chung, Tiny.vc
“My solution to the iMessage v WhatsApp war among my US and European friends.” – Eric Slesinger, 201 Ventures
“Most our founders prefer Telegram so we default to Telegram for founder chats. It also makes it easy to connect founders and partners to each other.” – Julia Lipton, Awesome People Ventures
“We use this for informal founder communication such as scheduling a meeting or dropping a helpful link.” – Chapter One
“We use this for quick, informal LP communication.” – Chapter One
“WhatsApp for team communication. We've tried Slack a few times in the past, but it never stuck. WhatsApp is nice because it's good enough and most people are already using it outside of work.” – Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures
“Real time comms with co-investors and founders for fast deal referrals and portfolio support.” – Andy Chung, Tiny.vc
Email broadcasts are used for longer, more formal communications with stakeholders (LPs, portfolio founders, etc.) and are typically organized into various mailing lists.
When picking an email service provider, funds value simplicity, engagement tracking, and flexibility to manage various email lists.
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“Cabal is how we make sure we are helpful to the founders we invest in. We use it for tracking founders, mass comms, firm connection mapping, talent referrals, BD referrals, contribution tracking, event coordination, LP Updates, investment diligence, and backchannel references.” – Bryan Rosenblatt, Craft Ventures
“Simple tool for broadcasting updates to our LPs, founders, etc.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
“User-friendly tool for sending updates to our LPs and founders. Tracks engagement.” – Chapter One
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“A fantastic tool for emailing LP updates and newsletters. I particularly appreciate the simplicity of their editor, Zapier integration, and emphasis on deliverability (avoiding spam folders). I have hundreds of contacts organized with ‘friends’, ‘fund’, or ‘syndicate’ tags.” – Mark Scianna, Forward Deployed VC
“We use Mailchimp to send monthly founder updates and newsletters.” – Chapter One
“Used to broadcast emails for our LP updates. We prefer our emails to look personal rather than from an email marketing tool.” – Andy Chung, Tiny.vc
Investors spend a LOT of time in their email inboxes. Although messaging via WhatsApp and similar tools have eaten some of this screen time, email remains the dominant default for external communications.
When picking an email client, funds value shortcuts, speed, templates/snippets, and collaboration features such as inbox chat to be most productive.
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“Inbox chat and collaborative drafting saves us hours of coordination overhead every week. Front is one of the most important tools in our stack.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
“It’s simple and works. We’re big fans of the keyboard shortcuts and the Streak CRM overlay.” – Vijen Patel, 81 Collection
“Superhuman snippets save me at least a day a week and allow me and my VA to triage my inbox. We have snippets for off thesis pass emails, for intro emails, close the loop emails, and more.” – Julia Lipton, Awesome People Ventures
“Productivity tool to enhance email management. Superhuman provides users with a faster, streamlined, and more efficient email experience.” – Chapter One
Calendar & Scheduling
A big part of the job as an investor is to meet founders, which results in a ton of scheduling. For funds investing globally, time zones need to be considered which can make calendar juggling even harder.
When picking calendar tools, funds value Calendly-like scheduling and timezone coordination features. Some funds also use tools for calendar audits to ensure they’re prioritizing the right things.
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“For scheduling calls.” – Ben Tossell, Ben’s Bites Fund
“Cal.com has Calendly-like scheduling and the free version deconflicts across multiple calendars (personal and work). It’s easy to set up custom schedules for upcoming travel with options for predefined locations and custom time restrictions different from your standard calendar.” – Mark Scianna, Forward Deployed VC
“I'm my EA.” – Eric Slesinger, 201 Ventures
“For calendar audits.” – Nikhil Basu Trivedi, Footwork
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“My VA uses Vimcal to help calendar and propose options across time zones. This saves her time.” – Julia Lipton, Awesome People Ventures
“Vimcal makes it incredibly easy to copy and paste potential meeting times with optional Calendly-like scheduling.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
Fund managers are intel sponges, constantly in the flow of information. Taking notes helps capture takeaways from exchanges with founders, co-investors, and others. It can also help streamline meeting prep (i.e. pre-meeting briefs) and follow-ups.
When picking note-taking tools, funds value the ability to fit note-taking tools into their workflows like pre-meeting prep, post-meeting debriefs, etc.
“’The best camera is the one you have.’” – Eric Slesinger, 201 Ventures
“I use Mem for meeting notes and pre-briefings. My VA creates pre-briefs for every meeting in Mem that include relevant links and context.” – Julia Lipton, Awesome People Ventures
“Call transcriptions and note summaries help us stay focused on the call with a founder and make sharing information within our team much easier.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
Running a fund involves synthesizing knowledge from various sources, often in documents, for teammates, founders, LPs, and others.
When picking document collaboration tools, funds value a clean UX, ability to control information access, and flexibility.
“While not too dissimilar from other document collaboration tools, Paper’s UX is the cleanest.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
“Drafting notes and collaborating with the community. I also draft my LP updates in Google Docs and sync them with DocSend. This allows updates to be trackable, linkable, and include a clickable table of contents.” – Julia Lipton, Awesome People Ventures
“We're using Notion to build out an updated version of founderlibrary.com to make it easier for founders to search and find resources.” – Julia Lipton, Awesome People Ventures
“We have a robust "repository" via Notion (one founder facing and one internal), which serves as the table of contents to various important files for our portfolio and team to stay organized.” – Ariana Thacker, Conscience VC
“Used for notes and internal project management. It’s where we write, keep track of what we’re working on and keep notes on founders and portfolio companies.” – Andy Chung, Tiny.vc
“We use Notion for our internal intranet to share key docs and resources that are relevant across our team.” – Vijen Patel, 81 Collection
“We use Notion to take meeting notes, brainstorm roadmaps, store founder resources and more across the team. Also integrated with our Affinity deal tracker.” – Chapter One
“Notion is our internal wiki. Easy to use and very versatile. Easier to navigate and find things than Google Drive/Google Docs.” – Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures
Task & Project Management
Task and project management tools help funds manage various work-streams to manage across sourcing, diligence, portfolio support, projects, and more. It can help reduce status update meetings and increase transparency.
When picking task and project management tools, funds value simplicity, ownership-tracking, and customization.
“We use Asana for longer-term project management and simple to do lists.” – Vijen Patel, 81 Collection
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“We use ClickUp to manage various projects across multiple teams. We've been able to customize it to our necessary specs, and it has been great for keeping projects on track while providing transparency on where (and with whom) each task stands.” – Bryan Rosenblatt, Craft Ventures
“Our project management system.” – Chapter One
Decks & Document Sharing
Document-sharing software helps funds share documents securely and with insights, which is critical to controlling the flow of information around a fund.
When picking deck and presentation tools, funds value the ability to quickly generate presentations, permissioning, and tracking/analytics.
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"We use Docsend to distribute and track LP updates.” – Julia Lipton, Awesome People Ventures
“For my dataroom and to share info with LPs.” – Eric Slesinger, 201 Ventures
“We share key docs via DocSend so we can track views and follow ups, but honestly we are fine with PDF’s. We think life should be easy for our LP’s if we are truly taking care of our clients.” – Vijen Patel, 81 Collection
“We use Docsend to track & share important presentations, including our data room. Unique permissions and analytics.” – Chapter One
“DocSend is used for updates and decks that we share with our LPs (more for access control than for tracking).” – Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures
"I prefer Google Slides for sharing decks, partially because it doesn't track activity. I think many people are hesitant to open links from tools that are known to track when and where a doc was opened (I don’t blame them). A neat hack is to edit the shared URL, replacing the word 'edit' with 'present' so it opens in presentation mode for the recipient." – Mark Scianna, Forward Deployed VC
“Presentation software for our team meetings, AI-powered and quickly growing.” – Chapter One
Since the pandemic, video meetings with founders, LPs, and others have become the default for most fund managers we spoke with. Some funds also use tools like Loom for high-fidelity, asynchronous communications.
When picking video communication tools, funds value reliability, ability to record, and centralizing recordings.
“To keep us moving quickly without missing any details, we use Loom for video messaging. We use it to record screens, address questions and communicate asynchronously.” – Vijen Patel, 81 Collection
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“For live video presentations.” – Yohei Nakajima, Untapped Capital
“For sharing recordings with LPs & Portfolio in a centralized spot.” – Nikhil Basu Trivedi, Footwork
“I default to zoom, but when it's buggy, we use Google Hangouts or good old fashioned phone.” – Julia Lipton, Awesome People Ventures
“We don’t have a meeting heavy culture but use Zoom internally and externally for meetings that are best done face to face but can’t be in person.” – Vijen Patel, 81 Collection
“95% of our first contact with founders is via Zoom.” – Andy Chung, Tiny.vc
“It just works” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
Automation & Workflow Management
Automation and workflow management is one of the most important parts of a VC fund’s stack. It’s also most ripe for creative application with the rise of LLMs and the proliferation of open APIs/connectors like Zapier.
When used properly, funds can save time, do more, and ensure important steps in their process aren’t missed.
“Our third biggest bottleneck is collecting data on startups, including those in our portfolio, and populating our Airtable. This data often comes in the form of an email update or a PDF deck. Alex Korfiatis, one of our LPs, built AInalyst to help. How it works: We upload a file, and all the text blocks and charts in it are recognized by LayoutLMv3 and converted into text. Then this text is fed into GPT-4 via Langchain to extract the information that we need (and list the most important pieces of info that were missing). The result is a “MiniMemo” one-pager on the startup for us to review.” – Marina Davidova, Davidovs Venture Collective
“Currently using it for efficient research (searching multiple sources and combining into a single report). Works well for web search and the newest version can search Crunchbase and Airtable CRMs.” – Yohei Nakajima, Untapped Capital
“Introduction tool used by our entire team. Makes intros a sinch.” – Will Bricker, Hustle Fund
“Easy double opt-in intros - connected to Gmail and Linkedin. We’ve also set up a bridge link for each of our founders on our Airtable so our network can connect with our portfolio.” – Andy Chung, Tiny.vc
“A simple clipboard manager that I use often to paste frequently used blocks of text and to retrieve old clipboard data.” – Mark Scianna, Forward Deployed VC
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“Workflow tooling to execute investments with an attractive pricing model.” – Will Bricker, Hustle Fund
“Mail merge for Gmail - enables us to send custom LP financials via Gmail.” – Andy Chung, Tiny.vc
“Zaps for email labels: for instance, adding "deck" label to an email takes the attachment and moves it to Google Drive with only two taps on my phone.” – Eric Slesinger, 201 Ventures
“Zapier integrates with Streak to feed information into our deal flow process.” – Vijen Patel, 81 Collection
“We have used Zapier for integrations with Notion, Affinity, and other tools. The goal is to always increase efficiency.” – Chapter One
“Zapier’s integrations with Airtable, Slack, Typeform, and other tools automate our workflows and ensure we don’t miss steps in our process.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
Deal Flow & CRM
Deal flow is the lifeblood of a VC fund. Most funds use a CRM as their central storage to track opportunities, companies (inside and outside their portfolios), and networks.
When picking deal flow and CRM tools, funds value the ability to easily fit it into their process, enrich data with sources like LinkedIn, and integrations to trigger workflows.
“For CRM, deal flow management, tracking areas of portfolio support, tracking convos with co-investors, LPs, etc.” – Nikhil Basu Trivedi, Footwork
“Deals automatically get pushed from Harmonic to Affinity, where they can be claimed by investors (investors can also manually add deals for companies they meet organically). Affinity helps track relationship owners and deal statuses.” – Bryan Rosenblatt, Craft Ventures
“We use to track deal flow (inbound pitches, first meetings, passes & more) and communication with LPs. Connectivity with LinkedIn and email is key.” – Chapter One
“Affinity is our CRM. We like it because it automatically pulls in data from Crunchbase and tracks recent emails and meetings between us and companies we're talking to.” – Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures
“We use Airtable for our deal CRM and pipeline management. We also use it to maintain people databases. We have Airtable views for different people functions, like ‘best PR firms’ and ‘exec coaches.’ We send out these Airtable views when founders ask for recommendations for service providers.” – Julia Lipton, Awesome People Ventures
“Airtable is great for storing, exploring, and interacting with data. However, it is expensive to scale beyond the “pro” package.” – Will Bricker, Hustle Fund
“Database of our portfolio, founders and LPs. We collect founder and LP info during onboarding and use this to share lists of portfolio companies with prospective follow-on investors.” – Andy Chung, Tiny.vc
“A souped up base is my dealflow, CRM, internal metric tracker, intro maker, note-sharer++” – Eric Slesinger, 201 Ventures
“For CRM and linking records like companies and people in different tables, I also sync this with my newsletter mentions to see where I've mentioned companies.” – Ben Tossell, Ben’s Bites Fund
“We use Airtable for many projects but it’s a central hub for our CRM and pipeline management” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
“Every action we take and every piece of information we collect is recorded in AirTable, including pipeline opportunities, declined companies, portfolio deals, individuals, funds, and updates.” – Marina Davidova, Davidovs Venture Collective
“Airtable is used for managing event attendees, program applications (for things like the Susa Venture Fellows program), LPs, etc. Airtable is powerful, and we like that it's easy to create multiple custom views of each table.” – Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures
“Used for contact tracking, email templates, and pipeline tracking. It’s simple, affordable, and connected.” – Will Bricker, Hustle Fund
“Our CRM where we manage contacts, outreach, and deals. We have one pipeline for investors and another for startups. It's simple to get started, the mobile app is handy on the road, and it integrates well with other systems. Best of all, email integration is fantastic. You can send personalized messages to multiple recipients, create deals from email threads, and see the last interaction dates across deals. If you are an engineer that comes from the world of scrum boards, Pipedrive’s interface will be a familiar UX.” – Mark Scianna, Forward Deployed VC
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“Our main CRM. Streak integrates with our team’s Gmail and allows us to keep all LP and portfolio communications in one place. We also use their Snippets to templatize common email responses. We have five core areas of work and as three of those five (fundraising, deal flow, investments) feature a funnel, so we use Streak for those. One note is that although we can often use mail merges, we think it is best to send personal email when possible. We are in the business of relationships.” – Vijen Patel, 81 Collection
Modeling & Performance Tracking
Funds use modeling and tracking tools for portfolio construction, scenario planning, management, and reporting (we covered this topic on Signature Block). Some funds also use standardized tools like SaaSGrid to collect a startups’ metrics for diligence.
When picking modeling tools, funds value simplicity to set up fund-specific models, the ability to customize, and easily share with others.
“Our new startup building tools for early stage investors. We use it to track our portfolio performance and manage our deal flow.” – Andy Chung, Tiny.vc
“We use this as a simple tracker of deals we're in the process of closing and have invested in. Works really well. If we were going to track a lot more companies (including all leads) we'd consider using a different CRM.” – Daniel Rumennik, AirAngels
“Once we invest in a company, we track our ownership and other legal details in Sheets. Sometimes it’s hard to beat the flexibility of spreadsheets.” – Bryan Rosenblatt, Craft Ventures
“Lightyears ahead of Excel for fund modeling and portco reporting.” – Eric Slesinger, 201 Ventures
“We use Tactyc for portfolio construction and portfolio management, including KPIs.” – Vijen Patel, 81 Collection
“This recently released tool is very useful for fund modeling (a topic we covered on Signature Block a while back). Basic spreadsheets work, but often lack more advanced analysis such as cash flow projections.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
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“We use SaaSGrid to do financial diligence on all our B2B deals. SaaSGrid is a SaaS data platform: they help start-ups wrangle data from Salesforce, Stripe, Quickbooks, etc., and create dashboards with key SaaS metrics. In our ideal scenario, companies already use SaaSGrid and share access with us – we know if they use SaaSGrid we can trust the numbers. If they don’t use SaaSGrid, we collect raw data from them (an MRR waterfall and P&L) and create our own SaaSGrid dashboard to analyze their numbers. By always doing financial diligence the same way, we have a huge data repository that helps us spot true outliers.” – Bryan Rosenblatt, Craft Ventures
Site & App Builders
Every fund should probably have a website to communicate their background, focus, and more (teaser: we’ll cover this topic in a future edition of Signature Block). Of course, most funds shouldn’t invest unnecessary time hand-coding their site and instead use site builders. Some funds also use no code app builders to create LP or portfolio founder portals.
When picking site and app builders, funds value accessibility (many don’t have access to engineering resources) and flexibility.
“We developed our own LP/founder portal using softr.io, a no-code solution that allows us to create a user interface on top of Airtable. LPs can access our current pipeline in real-time through the site.” – Marina Davidova, Davidovs Venture Collective
“We use Webflow to build and host weekend.fund and signatureblock.co. It certainly takes more effort than other site builders, but gives us nearly as much flexibility as a traditional hand-coded site without nearly as much effort.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
Fund & SPV Admin
Fund and SPV admin tools (sometimes referred to as a back office provider) provide legal, finance, and operational support to run a fund. Platforms like AngelList Venture makes it possible for a small team (or single person) to run a venture fund.
When picking a back office partner, funds value reliability, fair pricing, and customization to meet their fund’s specific strategy or needs.
“Our fund administrator” – Nikhil Basu Trivedi, Footwork
“One stop admin service to handle everything for us so we can focus on just finding and helping companies. Their software approach is easy to use, lightweight and we love the account support we get.” – Daniel Rumennik, AirAngels
“One of our fund administrators and SPV management. Streamlines SPVs, standardizes documents for certain types of funds.” – Chapter One
“AngelList Venture handles fund admin, taxes, distributions, and legal for our fund and syndicate. Especially as a solo-GP, their legal structure and bundled low-cost fees greatly reduces risk for LPs in the event something were to happen to me. In such a scenario, undeployed capital simply gets returned to investors and administration would carry on undisturbed.” – Mark Scianna, Forward Deployed VC
“For fund back office and financial management. Simple, good service, and affordable for small funds.” – Lolita Taub, Ganas Ventures
“AngelList manages our back office and dramatically simplifies the fund setup and management process. It’s also well-positioned to offer tools that leverage its network effect (Projector and its inclusion of historical data is an early example).” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
“Fund management platform used to manage all money in and out of the fund, positioning info, and reporting.” – Will Bricker, Hustle Fund
“We use Sydecar to streamline and manage our SPV process.” – Vijen Patel, 81 Collection
“Vector is our Fund admin.” – Vijen Patel, 81 Collection
Sourcing & Data Intelligence
Fortunately we have access to more data and signals than ever before; however, finding, filtering, and understanding this data can be challenging. Fund managers use tools to augment their processes for sourcing, evaluating investments, and helping portfolio founders.
When picking sourcing and data intelligence tools, funds value the ability to enrich their data, unlock new “signals” and help them “see” more deals.
“API for understanding the tech stack of a website, extracted from their source code. Nothing groundbreaking, and often not relevant - but sometimes can provide interesting insights.” – Yohei Nakajima, Untapped Capital
“ChatGPT is useful to quickly get an understanding of a particular technology or market opportunity. For example, it can provide primers on methods for de-orbiting a satellite, managing LLMs on an air-gapped network, or how nuclear waste recycling works.” – Mark Scianna, Forward Deployed VC
“Whenever an update is emailed to us, it’s fed into GPT-4. Through smart prompt engineering, GPT-4 converts the founder's requests (and even identifies needs they might not have known existed!) into actionable tasks for our community members. It also suggests which community members would be most helpful based on their profiles and tags (sourced from Airtable).” – Marina Davidova, Davidovs Venture Collective
“We use ChatGPT to parse structured data from text. Currently we mainly use it with founder updates - we ingest the updates and extract data metrics (revenue, runway, growth etc) and key business updates (new raises, products, asks, etc). We then push this info to Slack to provide a summary and store the various components in airtable so we can see the latest info for a portco and build out benchmarks.” – Will Bricker, Hustle Fund
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“Popular data enrichment service that can take an email address or URL and provide name, description, social links, and additional data points.” – Yohei Nakajima, Untapped Capital
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“Data tool that helps us gain insights on companies and track market trends.” – Chapter One
“We often refer to Crunchbase to gather intel on prior rounds. This is especially useful when sourcing – as an early-stage investor we occasionally save ourselves time by filtering out companies that have raised large rounds at valuations above our focus.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
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“We use Harmonic to help source companies. Harmonic is the best data source for details on start-ups and start-up funding, and they do a great job sorting companies by industry, technologies, and founding team details.” – Bryan Rosenblatt, Craft Ventures
“We use a premium version for targeted sourcing of companies.” – Chapter One
“It’s funny, I went from never using LinkedIn to now being a power user. Some interesting ways I use it are to find local prospects when traveling, alert on job changes (hint: starting something new and stealth startup), and connecting with alumni groups.” – Mark Scianna, Forward Deployed VC
“Data tool that helps us gain insights on companies and track market trends.” – Chapter One
“Used for doing research on companies, market comps, competitive landscapes, etc. The data is not perfect, but it's pretty good.” – Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures
“We use this to search the bios of 240K+ Twitter followers to source people that can help with diligence and find warm leads for portfolio companies. It‘s a superpower.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
“A powerful diligence tool, which we combine with our own AI analyst. Our AI analyst identifies most relevant companies, unicorns, and recent acquisitions, does a sentiment analysis on Product Hunt reviews, pulls tech stack from BuiltWith, and does basic reasoning with OpenAI to understand customers, risks, market, etc.” – Yohei Nakajima, Untapped Capital
Of course, funds are businesses too, and often use finance, bill payment, credit card management, and other tools.
“Bill payment platform that streamlines vendor management, payments, and tracks vendor expenses.” – Chapter One
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“Company credit cards, reimbursements, spend management.” – Chapter One
“Ramp is used for expense management. We tried tools like Expensify in the past and found Ramp to be much less work for the team.” – Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures
“Finance and accounting platform, hacked by our team for fund accounting and LP reporting.” – Andy Chung, Tiny.vc
And here’s an assortment of tools funds use that aren’t cleanly mapped to any of the above categories.
“Our secure password storage platform with multiple levels of access.” – Chapter One
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“Athena has many years of experience finding and training A+ remote executive assistants. I’m very thankful they connected me with Ida.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
“Our EAs have been great. They help us with scheduling, research projects, event logistics, and a lot more.” – Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures
“File storage for all company documents. Robust security and sharing preferences.” – Chapter One
“We store and organise all our signed investment docs here. It’s been super helpful for our financial audits.” – Andy Chung, Tiny.vc
“Ethena is used for compliance training. Easy to use and we like that the training is bite-sized instead of all at once.” – Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures
“A great platform to get work done and meet other great people.” – Will Bricker, Hustle Fund
“Gated is an important tool for helping me control my inbox noise. Note – there will be some initial training involved with this software, so it's important to review your Gated emails and follow-up with important contacts.” – Ariana Thacker, Conscience VC
“Used for our job board. Getro is nice because it automatically pulls job listings from all of our portfolio companies and puts them in one place.” – Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures
“Integrates with our Gmail and gives us an extra set of eyes on our grammar. Communication in venture is key, especially since pre-seed effectively borders philosophy!” – Vijen Patel, 81 Collection
“Creates beautiful invites and info pages for IRL events.” – Will Bricker, Hustle Fund
“To quickly draft simple email replies.” – Mark Scianna, Forward Deployed VC
“Our recruiting team uses Pave to provide portfolio companies with guidance around compensation benchmarks for companies so they can best attract and retain top talent. The tool is particularly useful because you can pull data based on company stage and location.” – Bryan Rosenblatt, Craft Ventures
“Since most of our help comes in the form of an introduction, we make tens of introductions per day, especially during fundraising seasons when our portfolio companies go out to raise funds.
The double opt-in process is hard to do efficiently, even with Superhuman's email snippets, so we decided to build a product for that too called Introduck. While Introduck is in the making, we use Perplexity.ai to help generate these introductions effectively.” – Marina Davidova, Davidovs Venture Collective
“Lately we've relied on Perplexity.ai to ramp up quickly in new domains (with QA/QC referring to the sources listed).” – Ariana Thacker, Conscience VC
“To find anything you’ve seen, said, or heard.” – Mark Scianna, Forward Deployed VC
“How-to video creation tool. Great for documentation.” – Will Bricker, Hustle Fund
“We use Sendoso to manage personalized gifting at scale for things like our annual holiday gift. They do a great job at helping us to source amazing vendors and manage our inventory.” – Bryan Rosenblatt, Craft Ventures
“SnackMagic enables companies to treat their employees, event attendees, customers, and friends (anywhere in the world) with snacks & beverages of their choice. They take the stress out of giving by allowing the recipient to choose their own snacks. We use SnackMagic both internally with our employees and externally to say ‘thank you’. Several of our portfolio companies use it as a perk to treat their employees on a regular basis or their customers/event attendees.” – Bryan Rosenblatt, Craft Ventures
“Used to collect data from startups, LPs, etc. Allows for flexibility in logic and allows forms to be personalized.” – Lolita Taub, Ganas Ventures
“There are many survey tools but Typeform has the best UX and most advanced logic functionality.” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
“Used for surveys. Easy to use and relatively cheap.” – Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures
“Tweetdeck’s multi-column layout makes it easy to monitor specific keywords (e.g. all mentions of ‘Weekend Fund’) or lists of people. Although the ALT+TAB convenience may not be good for my productivity. 😅” – Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund
Of course there are thousands of other products you might be using, but we’ve already gone deep in this tooling rabbit hole. In our next edition we’ll go deeper on automation and workflows so you can learn how:
- Untapped VC uses AI to source and run automated diligence on companies found on Product Hunt, Twitter, and other sources.
- Hustle Fund reviews a staggering ~700 deals every month with the help of Typeform, Process Street, Airtable, Pipedrive, and Zapier.
- Davidovs Venture Collective semi-programmatically shares founders’ “asks” with their LPs using a tool called Ask2Task and uses AngelList to share carry with supporters.
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Until next time,
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Learnings from passing on unicorns
VCs share their big misses, why they passed and lessons learned