We recently published a list of the Top 50 Future of Work Startups based in NYC. While we were using Crunchbase Pro as a basis for research to publish a blog post, it can be valuable tool for generating other types of content, sales and partnership leads, researching specific verticals, or scoping competitors and investors.

Let's walk through some simple steps to get searches going, and then dive into a few ways we can use them.

Getting Started

First, you'll need Crunchbase Pro. Second you'll need to understand which identifiers you will be using to filter companies.  A good one to use is Crunchbase "Industries" and "Industry Groups".  You can see the full list of Industries and their associated Industry Groups here, which is downloadable to a CSV. In the past I've color coded different themes that might not fit exactly with a Crunchbase Industry Group so I can quickly build new searches using my preferred criteria.

Another way to accomplish similar results is to use Crunchbase Hubs. Hubs are pages that automatically group and list similar companies together based on the hub page’s criteria and the information listed on an organization’s profile. For example, their "FinTech Companies" hub page creates a list of startups that have “Fintech” listed as a category on their profile - https://www.crunchbase.com/hub/fintech-companies

It is important to note that Hub pages cannot be edited at this time and can take up to twenty-four hours to update with new information. Since Hubs have less flexibility we'll be using Industry searches for the example.

Narrowing the Search Inputs

In our previous post, we defined the industries for “future of work” by running through the entire list of categories and marking those we thought would apply. They ended up including the industries collaboration, collaborative consumption, document management, document preparation, productivity tools, real-time, product management, database, file sharing, content, freelance, peer to peer, outsourcing, content creators, and virtual workforce.

The next thing you'll need to do is build out the rest of the filters you will use. Crunchbase gives you a ton of filters - everything from location to the software they use. This will obviously depend heavily on both the company list you are looking to build and also the information you want to extract along with the list of companies.

For example, if looking for direct competitors you may want to not include specific regions, or if looking for what software the industry uses than you might search by that specific software criteria.

Extracting the Information

While you may want to sort the search by any given criteria you had in mind, Crunchbase has a unique scoring algorithm that ranks startups called Crunchbase Rank, or CB Rank. The CB Rank algorithm takes many signals into account including the number of connections a profile has, the level of community engagement, funding events, news articles, and acquisitions.

A company’s Rank is fluid and subject to rising and decaying over time with time-sensitive events. Events such as product launches, funding events, leadership changes, and news affect a company’s CB Rank.

From there we need to define the info we want to extract in a download. When you export the list, it will only export the data that is showing in the columns of the search.  Make sure to select all the columns you want, and also remember that you can only export up to 1000 rows.  So if you are looking for a larger list, make sure to include a range filter that will allow you to create multiple searches quickly.  For example, if a list is too large you can use a funding amount range to make two separate lists say $100k-$5mm in funding and $5mm-$10mm in funding.

The last thing you need to do is comb the list. This is massively important as you can't just take at face value every single data point in Crunchbase is accurate.  In our "future of work" example there were a number of startups we removed that weren't really in the future of work, as well as a number of companies that exited or shut down and weren't listed as such.

Now what can we do with the list? While this isn't the entirety of what you can do with these lists, let's take a look at a few examples.

Seeing What Investors Are Appropriate

Now that you have your list you can see what investors are investing in that landscape, if they invest in your space, if they've invested in a competitor and the types of rounds they are investing in.  You can also conduct the same search for investors instead of companies, although I'd recommend doing both and cross referencing.

Build a Partner Pipeline

If you made a search of startups in your industry, you'll now have a list of natural collaborators - at least those that aren't competitive depending on the search criteria used. Reach out for cross-promotional activities, content marketing, and other opportunities to collaborate.

Find Who Is Helping Their Online Presence

The bloggers, journalists, and evangelists helping those in your industry are likely to be interested in what you are doing.  Whether they are bloggers, journalists, publications, or evangelists you'll be able to scope who you can reach out to in order further your online reach.

Stay Up To Date On The Industry

There are two easy things you can do here to stay up to date. One is adding the key members of the search to  a Crunchbase list, which will automatically update and notify you of any major events related to the companies in the list.  The second is to make a Public Twitter list of their handles and set something up like a Hootsuite Stream to stay up to date on what they are talking about online.

Build Out Content

We used our search for a simple top 50 list. But you can take it much further than that.  Even with a simple list, you can reach out to the companies on it saying they were featured and asking them to share with their audience. You can also take a look at the data for industry trends and analysis that those in your audience would be interested in for example.

We'll be looking at more ways you can use tools like Crunchbase to grow your audience and business, so if you loved the article make sure to follow our blog, and sign up for Snipply which makes collaborating on content a breeze.

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