A (Micro) VC’s Tech Stack 

How we use the Cloud to run Point Nine Capital 


I recently had the chance to attend a great webinar on marketing that Zendesk ‘s CMO Bill Macaitis gave to the Point Nine Family. After hearing Bill go over their ‘Marketing Tech Stack’ and discuss best of breed products to qualify leads, optimise conversion and do proper lead distribution, I decided to do the same exercise for tools that we use at at Point Nine.

Needless to say, we are big believers in the Cloud and eat our own dog food, so over the years we have tested numerous tools (and evaluated thousands). At the end of the day, the following seven tools have sticked and are now a fixed part of our workflow — I present to you the Point Nine Tech Stack.

Caveat: Three of these companies (Zendesk, mention & Contactually) belong to the Point Nine Family. But we would use them even if they weren’t. ;)


Zendesk

Originally a lightweight customer service solution (and one of Christoph’s first angel investments), we are using Zendesk as our default deal flow system. Every company that we identify through outgoing research, gets referred to us through our network or approaches us directly becomes a ticket and we collect all relevant information in the respective thread going forward.

This is what makes it great for us:

  • There are multiple stages, tags and views that can be customised to our individual workflows
  • It’s easy too loop in other people in the team (or even externals) by cc’ing them to specific tickets
  • You can set up automatic follow-up reminders to stay in touch with companies that we liked but couldn’t spend more time with at that time
  • It’s accessible from everywhere and has neat apps for iOS
  • A seamless email integration for updates and replies

Since we started using this system in mid 2011, more than 6,400 new tickets have been created, or more than 2,000 / year. In addition to being a workflow tool for us, I see increasing value in the database aspect.


Basecamp

We use Basecamp as a communication hub for most of our portfolio companies and to discuss specific projects internally. Specifically this means:

  • We have one Basecamp project for every portfolio company, in which company updates are published and current topics are discussed
  • There are several projects to facilitate the knowledge transfer between certain groups: The Point Nine Family project is for everyone in our (extended) investment portfolio, while the SaaS Founder Circle is for SaaS-specific question and the Tech Circle is well, you can probably guess. ☺
  • If we plan bigger projects like recruiting a new team member or our next SaaS Meetup, we collect all relevant data here and discuss what has to get done next.

Last time I counted, we were at 75+ projects. 37Signals must like us!


mention

Described as ‘Google Alerts on Steroids’ before, mention helps us to stay on top of what the interwebs have to say about our startups. We have an enterprise account with alerts for most of our startups (and ourselves), so that we get notified whenever someone blogs or tweets about one of our companies (or Point Nine). This helps us to identify and react to good content and is often the basis for what we end up putting in our monthly newsletter.

What’s great about mention is that while it does have a web, desktop and iOS app, it’s also easy to consume just by mail once you have set up your alerts. So it fits into pretty much every workflow.


MailChimp

We have a monthly newsletter (that we published on Medium for the first time this month), that we send to a growing list of LPs, startups and entrepreneurs that are interested in what’s happening at Point Nine. We’ve been using MailChimp since the beginning and are pretty happy with it:

  • It’s easy to use and has a great design
  • There are some useful analytics
  • Freddie is freaking awesome!

And last but not least, it integrates very nicely with Contactually.


Contactually

Contactually is a tool that helps you stay in touch with people that are important to you or your business. While we use Zendesk reminders to stay in touch with companies in our deal flow, we use Contactually to stay on top of mind with our network, i.e VCs and entrepreneurs that we like and want to stay in touch with.

As a little hack, the automatically updating address book in combination with a neat MailChimp integration allows us to automatically add new people we get in touch with to our newsletter list. Of course they can opt-out in one click, but it’s proven to be a very nifty growth hack.


Google Docs

Since Google has nailed collaboration, Docs have been a die-hard part of our day-to-day workflow. Everything, from KPI reports for our portfolio companies, over drafts for blog post or our newsletter to job descriptions or cap tables starts here.

The fact that Microsoft Office sucks monkey balls (I blame MailChimp for this connexion) on Mac OS might be one of the reasons we only use it if we really have to, but either way Google Docs help us a great deal. And I am excited to see what startups will do with the recently launched integrations marketplace.


Skype

Skype is our default tool for conference calls or chat. I’m actually not sure if it’s the best solution out there (Slack anyone?), but the fact is that nearly everybody has a Skype ID today. So it’s very easy to schedule calls, especially when talking to new connections.

We also use Google Hangouts from time to time, but there are still some usability issues. It might be human error, but I am still not sure what the best/fastest way to create a new hangout is. Also, I personally like to have a dedicated app when it comes to video chat. It can get quite confusing when you want to search for something online (or watch a summary of Germany destroying Brazil) and then get back to the Hangout window.

Either way, it works and I use it daily. And at least recently, they have made some progress on the mobile side.


There are some other tools and hacks that we use, but the above are a big part of our daily workflow (with the exception of MailChimp maybe). Of course we are always looking to optimise our processes, so any feedback or suggestions are welcome!

PS: We are currently looking for a Hacker-in-Residence to help us build a pretty sweet addition to this tech stack. Get in touch if you or someone you know could be interested!

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