Tools of the trade for the VC portfolio manager
The essential toolkit for those who support internal ecosystems
In the past 2 years as Frontline’s Head of Platform, I’ve seen an incredible explosion of similar roles at other VCs/funds in Europe. It is a signal of the growing recognition of the power of VC “value-add” when it comes to accelerating companies’ progress on a global scale.
We are called many things — Director of Community, VP of Platform, Portfolio Manager, etc. — but we effectively all do the same thing: help our portfolio of companies scale. Our focus can vary — from tactical, helpful content and meaningful business development to investor introductions and in-house recruiting support.
Not mentioning the obvious (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) and those that are deal flow/reporting-related (Gust, Visible, etc.), here are the tools we cannot live without!
Disclaimer: This toolkit is meant for those with limited resources/ “hacking it” like myself (I am a one-woman shop at Frontline). These tools can get you 90% of the way in-house without using external resources like a developer/designer.
Tools pertaining to community management. If you’re looking for a robust guide to platforms for the more general community manager, CMX Hub has an excellent one.
- Slack: This is the platform we use internally at Frontline. Most of our companies are highly technical with a strong developer employee base. Having them adopt Slack as a portfolio community was much easier with existing buy-in.
- Mobilize: Really lovely team with a highly customisable and robust product.
- LinkedIn: Portugal Ventures use the popular platform to manage their CEO groups.
- SalesforceIQ: SOSV integrates SalesforceIQ into their workflow — mapping out their various accelerator cohorts, networks of mentors/advisors, etc.
Tools to help with various “low touch” recruiting efforts — i.e. someone who doesn’t focus on talent full-time for their portfolio.
- Workable: The good folks at Playfair Capital use Workable for their slick jobs page.
- Jobbio: The team released an “ecosystem” feature that aggregates a group of companies’ job listings into one portfolio page.
- AngelList: Great for comparing salary data, as well as for free job listings.
- PayScale and Glassdoor: More salary data tools (can be more/less helpful depending on city)
- Connectifier: “Like Rapportive on crack.”
Tools to help research, coordinate, and execute on internal/external communications and marketing.
- Buffer: Every social media manager’s best friend. Now with even more robust image creation!
- Sidekick: Forward Partners swears by this great HubSpot tool.
- SoundCloud: Andreessen Horowitz hosts their legendary podcast here.
- Medium (meta): TechStars hosts their European startup resource page here. Point Nine Capital aggregates their firm and portfolio news here.
- Typeform / Wufoo
- Constant Contact
- Vimeo: True Ventures and Spark Capital host True University and Sessions here.
- GarageBand (Mac): This is how NextView Ventures edits their stellar podcast.
Tools that make our work lives generally easier.
- Trello: In addition to being a great project management tool, Trello is used by Portugal Ventures to help classify, rate, and recommend service providers to their portfolio.
- Dashlane: “For managing a million logins across devices and people.”
- Product Hunt: For discovering more tools and features to help us!
- Boomerang for Gmail
- SelfControl (Mac): An app to keep you laser-focused instead of falling down the Facebook/Twitter/Reddit hole.
- Signal: For staying on top of all of your portfolio companies and industry news.
Tools that enable us to make content that’s nice to look at.
- Visage and Infogram: Create infographics easily and cheaply.
- Canva: I don’t know what I would do without Canva. Genuinely.
- Unsplash/Splashbase: For 100% free and gorgeous stock photos.
- Fiverr: For small and simple design jobs.
Tools to create and manage events.
- Tito: Frontline uses Tito for coordinating larger community events like our office hours. It’s particularly great if you need to pull different information from different groups of attendees.
I run EU Internal Ecosystem Builders — a group of folks like myself who work with and alongside a portfolio of early-stage companies.
This includes GMs of coworking spaces, directors of accelerators, VC portfolio/talent managers, etc. We use EU IEB to ask questions, share best practices, and, yes, even discuss failures.
In Europe, fit this description, and want to join? Let me know!