What’s the best software for a VC?

An oft-debated topic in VC is that of what software to use to help us manage our portfolio and dealflow, find investments, and generally make our lives easier. So I thought I’d write a short piece on what we use and what we think of it. I’d love to be told that we’re doing things badly and should move to other software, so please tell me!

Dealflow : Fundstack

I used to think it was OK, now I think it’s good, yet nothing’s really changed. 

Why? I’ve gained some perspective by having sales calls with alternative software providers. I love the Fundstack Chrome plugin because I can add companies to our dealflow directly from their website. We also track companies that we’ve seen, even if we know we won’t invest, so that we can calculate what proportion of all seed deals we’ve seen. For these cases, I can put companies straight into ‘Passed’ from their website. Affinity, a Fundstack competitor, doesn’t make this so easy.

The main benefit to Affinity, as far as I can see, is the email integration which automatically shows who has contacted who, when. On Fundstack, as long as everyone in the team’s Gmail is connected, you get the same functionality.

So, unless I’m mistaken, I see no reason to switch away, as long as Fundstack continue to develop the product.

Files: Dropbox and Google Docs

It’d be pretty difficult to only use one service here. Arguably we could keep it within the Google ecosystem but Dropbox works well and so does Google Docs.

Google Docs is great for note-taking in meetings and sharing docs with the team. It’s lightweight and fast. We collaboratively add to Google Sheets for things like databases of useful contacts.

Inevitably, however, we have files that need to be stored locally on our computers, while being accessible to everyone. For documents that we need to store on Dropbox (mainly to do with specific companies), we tend to use Word or Excel. This is annoying. It would be much better if Google Docs/Sheets would allow you to save things as a file which is really just a link to the Doc/Sheet – maybe you can, if so, please let me know!

Email: Superhuman

If you’re in VC and haven’t heard of Superhuman you need to come out from under your rock.

But seriously, it’s great and I don’t think it’s just hype. It’s really the overall experience that makes it worth the $30/month in my view but I’ll highlight a few specific things.

First, it’s all keyboard shortcut-based. Once, you learn the shortcuts, navigating and dealing with emails becomes very quick. I really find myself churning through emails when I need to.

Second, reminders make it easy to prioritise. If something doesn’t need dealing with right now I just hit CMD+H and choose when Superhuman should put the email back in my inbox. If I’m on my phone, I can select ‘remind when on desktop’ which is great for clearing pitch decks that I don’t want to deal with on the go.

The main benefit for me is the feeling of being on top of my emails. I usually finish the day at almost ‘zero inbox’ meaning I’ve dealt with all pressing matters and that gives me headspace which is conducive to better working.

Calendar: Calendly

I slightly hate myself for using Calendly because it seems so arsey sending a link to let people book a slot in my calendar. I’m loathe to say that doesn’t stop me using it though.

The reason I can live with it, is that it really does save both parties time. It’s just a nasty power dynamic so I always accompany the link with a few friendly words to make it clear that it’s not a power play.

Deal-sourcing: Beauhurst, Pitchbook, Dealroom

I’m really lucky to have all three. Thanks, Episode 1.

Beauhurst and Pitchbook are easily my favourites. Without going into them much, they’re so useful for deal analysis and also some sourcing. I love Pitchbook’s Chrome plugin which allows me to instantly send an email to the founder of the website I’m on. 

I love Beauhurst’s platform and richness of shareholder and fundraising data. Although it’s not always accurate (Companies House filings are not realtime), it gives a great steer. Their search is also very powerful.

Portfolio company hiring: Sompani

We haven’t committed to this yet but it does two things:

  1. Scrapes all the open positions our portfolio companies are hiring for and lists them in one user-friendly place.
  2. Allows portfolio companies to add candidates who weren’t quite right for them but were excellent candidates, to a central talent pool, creating a vetted group of candidates for other portfolio companies to look at and hire from.

We think it’s likely that only a few portfolio companies will engage with the platform but even if a small handful of hires are made as a result of it, the outlay would be worth it. Any thoughts?

LP management: Pipedrive

I don’t have much to do with this but I know the partners leading our fundraising for Fund 3 use this to manage leads and prospects. I believe it does the job.

Overall I think we are fairly well set up tech-wise. If anyone has suggestions on how to do things better, I’d be interested to hear. I’d also be interested if people have clever ways of using something like Zapier to streamline their tech stack. Again, let me know!

Hector Mason

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