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The PE tech stack: Tools to Streamline & Automate Private Equity Deals

Table of Contents

    On the other side of a tumultuous few years, the world of private equity (PE) is more competitive than ever. There are more private equity firms in the marketplace with more cash, targeting fewer companies, and struggling to differentiate themselves from intense competition. The tech stack a PE firm chooses can make or break deals.

    Of all the technologies your PE team uses day-to-day, your CRM might be the most important component—but you can’t consider it only in isolation. Your CRM is one star in the constellation of technologies your team requires to find companies, accelerate deals, and achieve greater returns. The satellite technologies in your tech stack also impact your firm’s success—from its back-office processes to its competitiveness in the marketplace. 

    In this guide, you’ll get a tour of the most common components of a PE tech stack. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how the right technologies can work together to create operational value, improve relationships with LPs and portfolio companies, and fast-track deal flow.

    What is a private equity tech stack?

    A private equity tech stack is a combination of software solutions, apps, and technology tools that work together to improve the PE firm’s processes, differentiate the firm’s Portco value in a crowded marketplace, and accelerate deal flow. 

    In this guide, you’ll learn about some of the most popular technology solutions used by and built for private equity firms.

    We’ll cover the following components of an effective tech stack for PE:

    • CRMs with relationship intelligence
    • Traditional CRM platforms
    • Due diligence
    • Company search
    • Deal marketplaces
    • Portfolio management
    • Talent tracking
    • Project management
    • Email marketing
    • Content management system
    • Marketing automation

    Components of the modern private equity tech stack

    A strong PE technology stack should work together seamlessly to help fund managers source deals, maintain relationships with limited partners and portfolio companies, and close more private equity deals. 

    For every component of the private equity deal process there are many solutions on the market to help. In this section, you’ll learn about some of the best solutions for each of your firm’s most important workflows.

    CRMs with relationship intelligence

    Affinity

    PE dealmaking is a complex, non-linear process that doesn’t align with traditional, transactional CRM platforms built for funnel-driven sales teams in more volume-focused industries like SaaS and retail sales.. Private equity firms need a CRM built for capital markets—and Affinity is an ideal solution. 

    Affinity is a purpose-built CRM supported by relationship intelligence—insight into your team’s network, business relationships, and customer interactions that help you find, manage, and close deals—and designed for private equity. Automated data capture accurately records your team’s data exhaust—details from email communications, meetings, and contact information such as names, roles, industry, and source of introduction—and save your investment teams hundreds of hours of manual data entry. Built-in relationship intelligence technology assesses and analyses every relationship within your firm to find warm introductions within your existing relationship network.

    While traditional CRMs like Salesforce are transactional and built for short, simple deal cycles, Affinity was made for PE firms’ sophisticated dealmaking workflows and relationship-driven deal cycles. Learn more about how to choose the best private equity CRM in this buyer’s guide.

    Key features:

    • Automated data entry
    • Sophisticated pipeline management
    • AI-driven relationship insights

    Integrations: Salesforce, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Dropbox, Google Drive, Mailchimp, Eventbrite, Typeform, Sharepoint, Box

    Learn more

    Traditional CRM platforms

    Salesforce

    Salesforce (SFDC) is the largest, best-known CRM in the world. Virtually every kind of company of every size can use this cloud-based software solution to manage contacts, accelerate the sales process, and automate sales tasks. But this is precisely why PE firms often struggle to use Salesforce in their operations—it wasn’t built with private equity teams and investors in mind.

    Key features: 

    • Lead and contact management
    • Sales opportunity management
    • Customizable workflows and workflow automation

    Integrations: Marketo, Pardot, Mailchimp, Google Cloud, Slack, Quickbooks, LinkedIN, DocuSign, JIRA, Hellosign, Dropbox, Active Campaign

    Learn more

    4Degrees

    The 4Degrees CRM adds a layer of intelligence and insight on top of standard CRM functionality. For PE teams, it automatically identifies the right connections for you to focus on to find the best path to a company or investor if the data is regularly updated through manual data entry. It also offers some automated deal data entry and auto-generated reports. 

    Key features:

    • Lead management
    • Relationship tracking
    • Marketing automation

    Integrations: Integrates to other systems through Zapier

    Learn more

    Navatar

    Navatar bills itself as a simple-to-use deal-sourcing CRM for private capital markets. It requires manual data entry and relationship mapping to manage the complete ecosystem of your relationships and deals. If that data is up to date, its streamlined deal and pipeline management workflows this traditional CRM system is most known for.

    Key features:

    • Relationship management
    • Deal and pipeline management
    • Portfolio company monitoring dashboards

    Integrations: Outlook, Excel, PitchBook, Mailchimp, HubSpot, Zoom, Google Drive, LinkedIn, Marketo

    Learn more

    Due diligence

    GLG

    GLG connects private equity and venture capital firms with their network of approximately one million experts to confirm all financial information provided by a company is accurate in order to minimize risk and improve performance. PE firms use it to access adjunct professionals for deal teams, brainstorm with subject matter experts, and create surveys and written deliverables.

    Key features:

    • Project-based consulting
    • Global learning platform
    • Industry market scans

    Learn more

    AlphaSights

    AlphaSights provides PE firms with on-demand access to industry knowledge to ensure they are able to make better-informed data-driven decisions. In addition to its 1,200+ top-tier professionals, the company is known for its expertise resulting from a combination of human and artificial intelligence.

    Key features:

    • Globally dispersed, on-demand knowledge
    • Cutting-edge data science for more in-depth insights
    • Full service spectrum including interviews, surveys and content

    Learn more

    Tegus

    PE firms choose Tegus for complex qualitative research delivered on a single integrated platform for investors. In addition to on-demand insights for investors, Tegus claims to be 75% cheaper than traditional expert networks.

    Key features:

    • Instantly available, investor-led interviews with industry experts
    • Facilitation of custom-sourced calls with experts, former employees, customers, and competitors

    Learn more

    Company research

    SourceScrub

    Possibly the best-known investment research tool, SourceScrub offers a full suite of data services for PE and VC firms to find, research, and connect with target companies. In addition to research tools, the company has also built CRM integrations to make deal flow management even more easily, including direct connections to some industry CRM platforms.

    Key features:

    • Conference planning
    • Portfolio tracking
    • Process automation

    Integrations: Affinity, DealCloud, Salesforce, SugarCRM, Dynamo

    Learn more

    Grata

    Grata is a company search engine for private company intelligence. The platform helps PE firms surface the right small and mid-size companies, qualify those targets, and get the right contact information to move the conversation forward.

    Key features:

    • Comprehensive information on over 6 million small and medium-sized businesses
    • Proprietary algorithm for additional insights
    • Streamlined user interface

    Learn more

    DealRoom

    The DealRoom global data platform provides PE firms with intelligence on startups, innovation, and high-growth companies. The comprehensive database helps private equity investors discover new companies, source deals, conduct research, and identify emerging trends.

    Key features:

    • Comprehensive global database of startups and growth companies
    • Bespoke research services
    • An API that enables PE teams to integrate the data with their chosen platforms

    Integrations: API

    Learn more

    Deal marketplace

    Axial

    Axial is a private deal platform for PE firms targeting lower middle-market companies in the U.S. and Canada. A leader in this space, Axial offers tools for deal sourcing, deal marketing, and business development.

    Key features:

    • Proprietary algorithm that analyzes each member’s deal criteria and privately recommends matching parties
    • Private search
    • Deal opportunities sent straight to buy-side email

    Learn more

    Aurigin

    The Aurigin deal origination platform uses an algorithm to match middle-market companies seeking capital with private equity funds looking to invest. A PE firm can add their investment mandates to the platform to be matched up with appropriate sell-side deals.

    Key features:

    • Growing repository of transactions, firms, and people

    Learn more

    Palico

    Palico is a fund discovery platform for limited partners to source and vet PE fund managers.

    Key features:

    • Database of fund information and fund-specific content
    • News updates related to general partners 

    Learn more

    Portfolio management

    Carta

    Formerly, eShares, Carta is an ownership and equity management platform that helps private equity fund administrators modernize how they manage their portfolios and back office. Carta’s cap table is popular with startups, which makes it easy for PE firms to get fast access to company details.

    Key features:

    • Streamlined portfolio management and insights
    • Automated office management workflows
    • Fund administration services
    • LP portal
    • Audit-ready ASC 820 valuations

    Integrations: None

    Learn more

    Airtable

    Airtable is a flexible database platform that can be configured to serve almost any data management purpose for PE firms. Because it is a relational database, it offers functionality well above and beyond Excel for storing and connecting data fields—which makes it powerful for tracking fund performance, portfolio company data, projects and tasks, and even content publication, all in one central place.

    Key features:

    • Relational data model with multiple field types
    • Create different views for different use cases
    • Over 50 pre-built, click-to-add apps
    • Task management and database workflow automations
    • Collaboration tools

    Integrations: Asana, Box, Dropbox, Eventbrite, Evernote, Gmail, Google Drive, LinkedIn, Mailchimp, Slack, Trello, API

    Learn more

    Talent tracking

    Clockwork

    A legacy solution in the talent tracking space, Clockwork is an online tool for executive search. This software was built by a former executive recruiter and designed to support every stage of executive search.

    Key features:

    • Streamlined user interface
    • Professional and partner services

    Integrations: Interseller, DeepHire, Spark Hire, Okta, Microsoft Azure, Verified First

    Learn more

    Filefinder

    Filefinder is a well-established executive search software platform used by more than 1,600 firms across 70 countries. It offers customizable search strings to help PE firms find the most relevant candidates for projects, and it works directly in Microsoft Outlook. 

    Key features:

    • Access to data on any device
    • GDPR compliant
    • Performance monitoring and reports
    • Client portal

    Integrations: Outlook

    Learn more

    Thrive TRM

    Thrive TRM combines talent relationship management and applicant tracking in one software platform to support portfolio company recruiting. It allows private equity teams to capture search-generated market intelligence and share resources across the organization.

    Key features:

    • Centralized talent data
    • Dynamic talent networks
    • Real-time reporting

    Integrations: Thrive Circles

    Learn more

    Project management

    Asana

    Asana project management software enables PE firms to collaboratively track and manage projects and tasks. Users can communicate, share files, and provide status updates right inside the platform without needing to rely on internal emails or static spreadsheets.

    Key features:

    • Real-time progress tracking
    • Communication and collaboration tools
    • Timeline and calendar views
    • Automated task management workflows
    • Forms

    Integrations: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Okta, Salesforce, Tableau, Microsoft Office 365, Google Calendar, Gmail, Zapier, and dozens more

    Learn more

    Trello

    Trello is the most well-known Kanban board software on the market, with features to help PE firms manage projects, organize tasks, and collaborate. This simple platform is easy to use and helps team members stay on the same page.

    Key features:

    • Multiple views, including traditional Kanban board, timeline, and calendar
    • Checklists
    • Communication and collaboration tools
    • No-code automation

    Integrations: Confluence, Slack, Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote

    Learn more

    Email marketing

    Mailchimp

    Mailchimp is one of the original email marketing platforms for businesses across the spectrum of industry and size, and the platform continues to grow and evolve. Ideal for small firms, the free plan lets you send basic marketing emails up to 2,000 contacts, making it one of the most popular email marketing platforms for new businesses. Today, Mailchimp offers a suite of other services as well, including websites, appointment scheduling, landing pages, digital ads, and social media advertising. As of this writing, Mailchimp is being acquired by Intuit. 

    Key features:

    • Marketing CRM
    • Website builder
    • Forms and landing pages
    • Email templates
    • Dynamic content tokens for personalization

    Integrations: WordPress, LinkedIn, SurveyMonkey, Canva, and dozens more 

    Learn more

    Campaign Monitor

    This easy-to-use email marketing tool is used by 250,000 businesses around the world. Unlike Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor has stayed true to its email roots and continues to be a straightforward email tool for small teams.

    Key features:

    • Drag-and-drop email builder
    • Templates
    • Email automation
    • Smart segmentation and personalization

    Integrations: WordPress, Google Analytics, HubSpot, Zoho CRM, Zapier, API

    Learn more

    Content management system

    WordPress

    WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) for businesses of all sizes across the globe. WordPress claims that 42% of the web uses WordPress today, in fact. Confusingly, WordPress.org is open source software where you host your own website, while WordPress.com is a website hosting service that uses WordPress software. Confusing service names aside, WordPress is a powerful and flexible CMS right out of the box. With a little extra coding, a private equity firm can customize it to meet almost any website need.

    Key features:

    • Customizable designs
    • SEO friendly
    • Mobile responsive
    • Strong security
    • Easy to use

    Integrations: WordPress offers an extensive library of plugins

    Learn more

    HubSpot

    Most well known for its marketing automation, HubSpot is also a powerful CMS. This platform is ideal for businesses that do inbound marketing, but may be too content marketing-focused to be a good fit for some PE firms. The CRM and built-in marketing tools do make it a major contender across the marketing spectrum, however.

    Key features:

    • Drag-and-drop editor
    • Pre-built website themes
    • Fully integrated CRM
    • SEO recommendations

    Integrations: The HubSpot App Marketplace features almost 1,000 integrations

    Learn more

    Marketing automation

    HubSpot

    As mentioned in the previous section, marketing automation is what HubSpot is most known for. HubSpot marketing automation integrates easily with most popular technology platforms used by PE firms, and enables teams to keep all marketing tools and data on a single platform.

    Key features:

    • Blog
    • SEO
    • Ad tracking and management
    • Social media management
    • Video
    • Live chat

    Integrations: The HubSpot App Marketplace features almost 1,000 integrations

    Learn more

    Dispatch by DealCloud

    DealCloud is well-known in private equity—and if you’re already using it, Dispatch may be an easy solution to plug into your PE tech stack. It works seamlessly with the DealCloud CRM, so you don’t have to import or export contact data to use it effectively. One of the perks of this marketing automation solution is that you can easily use it alongside the DealCloud CRM to distribute industry analysis reports, automate announcements, and send fundraising communications.

    Key features:

    • Email marketing
    • Custom web pages
    • Forms
    • Reporting and analytics

    Integrations: DealCloud platform

    Learn more

    Marketo

    Marketo is a legacy marketing automation SaaS platform that, like HubSpot, is used by businesses across industries. However, Marketo is much more geared toward B2B companies. Marketo is now part of the Adobe Experience Cloud platform, and offers PE firms rich behavioral data and built-in customer intelligence.

    Key features:

    • Advanced personalization
    • Marketing communication automation
    • Analytics
    • Enriched customer data

    Integrations: Adobe Experience Cloud, Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP, SugarCRM, NetSuite CRM+

    Learn more

    Emerging Trends in PE Tech Stacks and Software Solutions

    The shift toward automation and digitization is happening across industries—and in private equity, this shift is picking up speed. Private equity firms are also taking notes from the marketing industry and adding solutions to their tech stacks to enable better automation of workflows. AI-powered relationship intelligence is also having its day in the sun, with a few strong solutions coming on the market recently. (Though not all relationship intelligence is created equal.)

    Perhaps the most important PE trend to note, however, is the move toward more automation of data capture. Considering PE teams spend hundreds of hours on manual data entry to build and maintain their contact databases, automated contact profile creation, contact management, and activity tracking from solutions like Affinity help free teams from the drudgery of managing their relationship network and deal data. 

    As PE firms move from general, all-purpose software to solutions purpose-built for capital markets, their tech stacks will only grow in value and further optimize the investment process.

    In Summary

    We hope this guide has been useful to explore solutions to improve your private equity technology stack and aid in value creation. With the right software solutions in place, you can be free from the drudgery of manually entering data, gain the insights needed to close deals, and the confidence to collaborate across the organization.

    Talk to a member of the Affinity sales team today and discover how an automated relationship intelligence CRM can boost the power of your PE tech stack.

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