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Research: 79 tools VCs use for deal flows, productivity, networking

As a head of platform at a VC firm, I’ve always been trying to find ways I can improve my work. I’ve decided to compile a comprehensive list of tools VCs use to improve productivity within their funds and connect better with portfolio startups.

After dozens of interviews and deep research within the VC community, I’ve put together a list of 79 tools widely used in VC. Its complete version is available in this Google Sheets document.

This article covers the 10 of them that I find the most useful (ignoring obvious Zoom, Slack, LinkedIn, and Google Calendar) and includes quotes from VCs that share my opinion.


Circle is a community platform that helps bring together engaging courses, discussions, members, live streams, chats, events, and memberships — all in one place. By using it, a VC firm can create a knowledge base for its portfolio that can also host discussions and Q&A sessions within the platform.

VC Platform Global Community has used Circle to effectively manage its community, which has over 1,800 members from more than 300 funds. It uses it to further connect people through events, candidate sharing, job postings, new member introductions, local geographic meetups, thematic topic areas, and more.

“To me, Circle is a digital co-working space — it is the best way I can manage a membership community that spans 43 countries,” says Joshua Goodfield, executive director at VC Platform Global Community.

“It feels like we are all sitting next to each other and can easily tap someone on the shoulder to discuss burning questions.”

Anyone managing a community, however, should meet their members where they already are. VC Platform uses Synchronize, a premium add-on for Circle, to integrate the platform across Email and Slack as well for their members.

“Don’t force a Slack channel on a group of people that aren’t using Slack. Find out what tools are the norm for the individuals you want to support and meet them where they are. Also, the more you can cross-integrate across other platforms, the more successful you will be in getting high user adoption,” Goodfield says.

Subscription: $89–399 per month for Professional, Business and Enterprise pricing plans (if billed annually); the basic subscription costs $49 a month.



Bridge is a platform that helps introduce people from your network to each other. It allows your community to see who they know and who can help, initiate meetings and keep track of introductions.

While investing in early-stage ventures, Maze uses Bridge to track the intros it is making for its founders and collect feedback about them. “Before Bridge, we never analyzed this kind of data,” says Julian McNamara, product analyst at Maze.

According to McNamara, Bridge has streamlined the company’s introductions through its introductions links, which it uses to give self-service access to its network for founders. “We significantly reduce the amount of email and on-call back [when] making intros for our founders,” McNamara says.

Before introducing Bridge, McNamara suggests getting team-wide buy-in and running a good onboarding to make sure all team members know how to use the tool.

Subscription: $12–29 a month (if billed annually); the basic version is available for free.



Copper is a CRM platform that can be quickly set up, pulling in your team’s contacts and email conversations. It integrates with Gmail, Mailchimp, Slack, Google Calendar, Google Drive, and more. It also can visualize your team’s sales process and networking efforts.

Alter, a global VC firm, uses Copper as a centralized location for its “joint knowledge” to track information in its ecosystem and to access this information without having to wait for a response from a team member (and Alter’s team operates across different timezones).

According to Benie Bolohan, funds and operations lead at Alter, Copper helps the VC firm track its connections across the world, identify people based in a certain city or country and, if someone from the team travels to a particular event, quickly set up in-person meetings.

“[With Copper], we can also track our LP pipeline and startup deal flow to visually see a dashboard of where various people or entities stand and what our next steps are to help push these relationships along,” says Bolohan.

According to Bolohan, those searching for a CRM should find a tool that will automatically pull from or sync with their email and have customizations that can make data input easier.

Also – ask for the team’s input on what they would like to track with the tool and what results they’d like to see. “Any CRM only works if the team actually uses it,” Bolohan says.

Subscription: $23–99 per user, per month (if billed annually).

Website: is a low-code tool that lets customers build apps atop Airtable or Google Sheets databases. These apps can be portals, project management tools, and lightweight CRMs. To make it easier to create an app, offers pre-built and functional blocks like lists, charts, forms, tables, calendars, and maps out of the box.

For Seedstars, has been a “real game-changer.” It caught the attention of the investment firm because of its broad customization capabilities and no-code approach, which makes it easy to build multiple platforms.

According to Mal Filipowska, portfolio and platform manager at Seedstars, allowed Seedstars to replace the majority of the other tools it had been using previously.

“The ability to build custom web apps with pre-built building blocks saved us countless hours of work and resources and improved our efficiency,” says Filipowska. “The true power of a tool like lies in its versatility and adaptability.”

Those considering using should have a long conversation with the team to understand all the possibilities the tool offers, says Filipowska. It’s also worth researching existing solutions on, as using ready-made blocks can streamline the process.

Subscription: $49-269 a month (if billed annually). Its basic version “for individuals building passion projects” is free.



Cobalt is a self-service portfolio monitoring app; it brings together business intelligence and user-centric design. Its analytics engine runs cash flow calculations and modeling, track record, attribution and peer analysis, PME benchmarking, value concentration analysis, and a host of deal-scoring analytics.

In other words, Cobalt helps VCs manage the portfolio company data that goes in and build personalized reporting for internal teams and LPs.

Seed fund Accion Venture Lab chose Cobalt to fulfill its needs for fund performance analysis and portfolio monitoring. According to its fund operations associate Jackson Pellegrini, Cobalt has enhanced access to information for the fund’s internal stakeholders, allowing them to view customized firm, fund, and portco performance dashboards.

"On the portfolio monitoring side, Cobalt has transitioned our portfolio company operating data collection process from one that was heavily reliant on manual Excel-based KPI tracking to one that is semi-automated and highly consistent across the portfolio," says Pellegrini.

Before using this tool, Pellegrini offers to weigh the value-add of the tool against any internal accounting processes and systems already in place; to evaluate portfolio companies’ sensitivity to new process requirements if automating operating data collection is of interest.

Subscription: Cobalt offers personalized demos; it doesn’t disclose the prices on its website.



VCs can use the Affinity relationship intelligence platform to track their entire deal flow. It will store profiles of startups and their founders, their contact info, the history of how VCs (and who exactly from their team) communicated with founders, and the progress of each deal.

One of the reasons why Cavalry started using Affinity was that the tool is tailored toward VC operations. Now it is using it to coordinate and analyze its deal flow and fundraising efforts.

“We also structure and track our network [in Affinity] closely to make it as transparent and accessible throughout the team as possible,” says Cavalry platform manager Clara Köster. “Affinity works as our single source of truth.”

Köster says a team effort is a key ingredient to make Affinity a game changer. If everyone opens their network and has a sense of urgency when it comes to the care of such tools, it can boost the fund’s performance.

Subscription: Affinity offers personalized demos; it doesn’t disclose the prices on its website



Zapier helps build custom workflows and automate them. It can integrate more apps than any other rival platform into these workflows, including Dropbox, Google Sheets, WordPress, Office 365, Zoho CRM, and Microsoft Teams (in total, over 5,000 apps).

Zapier also uses AI to help with automation: describe what you’d like to automate, and its AI tools will write the code and build your automations (called Zaps).

Cory Bolotsky has used Zapier at a number of firms to automate intro tracking for portfolio companies (it stores and categorizes email-based intros) and post-meeting follows-ups; to streamline event registration forms, calendar invites, and post-event surveys; to set reminders of important dates (such as founder birthdays). These are just some of the uses.

“VC Firms are often trying to track and integrate data where there aren’t great software products to help. Since most [VC] firms don’t have in-house software engineers, Zapier has become my number one tool to build nearly anything with no coding needed,” says Cory Bolotsky, a platform consultant for VC firms.

“Zapier is quick and easy to learn, natively integrates with almost any tools that firms use, and is relatively inexpensive to use,” Bolotsky says.

Those thinking the tool is too complex for them should just give it a try, Bolotsky insists. There’s a ton of resources (including on YouTube) on how to use it; Zapier also runs webinars to help get new users up to speed.

Subscription: $20-100 a month (billed annually); it’s free for those who need just the basics of automation.



Airtable helps build apps to unite the company’s data and workflows. Most often, it's used for marketing and product operations, but its flexibility means it can be used for nearly anything — from planning an event to tracking sales leads.

Venture fund and community of operators Operator Collective needed a versatile, customizable, and easy-to-adapt tool, which is also scalable. “Airtable provided just that solution,” says Anna Jacobson, ops and data partner at the fund.

“Our Airtable bases are our single source of truth for everything we do — from investments to community and internal operations,” says Jacobson. “[It] allows us to model the interconnectedness of our entire ecosystem, giving us real-time visibility into not just individuals and activities, but also how we function as a network.”

According to Jacobson, before building a single thing with Airtable, one should do some discovery work, focusing on their company’s vision, data strategy, and data acquisition.

  1. Vision. What is your purpose as an organization? Who are your clients? What do you want to do for/with them? What does success look like?

  2. Data strategy. Who are your data users? What tasks will they be doing with the data? Who will be responsible for building and maintaining your data tools?

  3. Data acquisition. What data do you already have? What data do you want but don’t know how to acquire? What resources do you need?

“Once you have your plan, start small. Identify what is mission-critical and build MVPs to help you think through what you really need to have. You can always add nice-to-haves later,” Jacobson adds.

Subscription: $10-20 per user, per month (if billed annually); it also has a free version for individuals or small teams (up to 5 creators or editors).



Luma’s purpose is simple: it helps set up an event page, invite guests, and sell tickets.

Forum Ventures uses Luma for its capabilities, user experience, and integrations. “We love how we can embed Luma on our website to showcase the events we are hosting and allow users to register directly on the site,” says Maggie Bolt, marketing manager at Forum Ventures.

“Luma automates messages and follow-ups in the same way that other event management systems do, but the calendar functionality and the direct embedding feature allow us to seamlessly engage with our community,” Bolt says.

Subscription: free (takes a 5% commission if you sell tickets); Luma Plus costs $59 a month (if billed annually).



Mailchimp is a marketing automation and email marketing platform. Perhaps it is most used for creating email campaigns and newsletters. With Mailchimp, you don't need to have experience in coding or graphic design to produce messages — everything is straightforward. Mailchimp also allows you to create landing pages.

Before adopting Mailchimp for its monthly newsletters and various announcements for its community, Flyer One Ventures also considered Hubspot, Sendinblue, Zoho Mail, and SendPulse. Mailchimp proved to be both more flexible and easy to use; it also tracks the basic email campaign metrics such as open rate, bounce rate, and engagement.

You have to understand the purpose of the email products you want to launch, how big is the audience, and the level of complexity you expect. If you need a basic solution, I guess it is not necessary to spend a lot of time on research — Mailchimp or Sendpulse are great tools.

Subscription: Depending on monthly email sends and other features, its pricing plans start from $0 to $350 a month.


I’d like to thank Joshua Goodfield (VC Platform Community), Mal Filipowska (Seedstars), Julian McNamara (Maze), Benek Bolohan (Alter Global), Jackson Pellegrini (Accion Venture Lab), Clara Köster (Cavalry), Cory Bolotsky, Anna Jacobson (Operator Collective), and Maggie Bolt (Forum Ventures).

These people shared with me their perspectives and tech stacks. Without them, this research would be impossible.

If you’ve got any feedback or want to recommend more tools that can help VC industry players reach out to me, Oleh Karizskyi, at Follow F1V on LinkedIn, where we publish advice, insights, and news about our portfolio companies.

Cover photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash


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