You’re going to have to collect a significant amount of data on at least 50 people at the top of the funnel. If you’re collecting 5–10 data points per person, that’s 250–500 data points you need to keep track of. A paper record is not your best option for storing all of these data; that’s a lot to risk spilling coffee on. This is where the tools of relationship management can be really helpful.
Most CRM software is built for big organizations to help teams collaborate on deals or communicate sales numbers. The dominant CRM company, Salesforce, employs 30K people to build and sell its software.
For founders sourcing investors for an early-stage company, a tool like Salesforce would be overkill. To run a good fundraising process with relationship management, there are hundreds of possible tools you can use, and many are flexible—it’s just important that you have one. Whichever tool you use, you’ll want to add a column for “stage,” which should refer to your funnel. We recommend keeping your stages simple, like “getting introduced,” “holding meetings,” “negotiations,” and “deal won” or “deal lost.” If you have more stages than that, you’re likely to end up not using them because of how tedious it is to update the records all the time.
Here are a few tools we recommend. (Holloway does not have deals with any of these companies.) All of these tools are recommended because you can create tables to put data and sort it depending on different variables.
Google Sheets. This is a free, web-based spreadsheet software service; it’s hard to go wrong with a basic spreadsheet. Titles of data points go in the first row, with all relevant data below it. The spreadsheets have sort and filter functions, and it’s easy to collaborate on them. If your team already all use Google Docs, this might be a good fit.
Airtable. If you’re familiar with spreadsheets, you’ll find that Airtable and spreadsheets have a lot in common. The differences, however, make it kind of a power tool. Airtable has a free edition that can get you pretty far, but can cost as much as $12 to $24 per month per person.*
In Airtable, you can create one tab with a list of contacts (names, emails, and so on). In another tab, you can create a list of VC firms. Then, you can associate multiple contacts with one VC firm, as you’re likely to interact with more than one person at each firm. Airtable also makes it easy to create statuses in each table, so you can easily move certain investors through your funnel.
We’ve created a lightweight template on Airtable Universe which you can make a copy of and use free of charge here.
Notion. Notion is a flexible tool for storing shared company knowledge like an internal company wiki, but it also has tables that function a lot like Airtable. We also use Notion at Holloway, as a daily workspace for a lot of different tasks and tooling. Notion has a free edition, but can cost as much as $4 to $16 a month per person.*
- Notion is really a replacement for Google Docs, some features of Google Sheets, and it can also act as a lightweight task manager like Trello. If you’re considering using Notion for other parts of your company, it might make sense to use this over Airtable for your relationship management in order to keep all your information in one place.
Streak CRM. Streak is a CRM for Gmail users. Some people swear by it, and they even have a page devoted to using their tool for fundraising.* Streak has a free edition, but can cost as much as $59 to $129 a month per person.*
Affinity. A CRM optimized for VCs and founders, Affinity has a lot of fields for data by default that you’d expect when fundraising. Affinity does not list their pricing publicly.