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.

Tools to help research, coordinate, and execute on internal/external communications and marketing.

Internal/Project Management
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.
  • Asana
  • 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.

Tools to create and manage events.

  • Eventbrite
  • Splash
  • Meetup
  • 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.
  • Attending

Let me know if I’m missing anything! I’ve also created a Product Hunt collection with most of the aforementioned tools here.

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!