Startup databases: Understanding them to better use them

– By Lucas Colney



In one of our previous articles, we explored the differences between technology watch and technology scouting. You may have noticed that we use many tools, including startup databases, for these processes.      


Startup databases are a great source of solutions. However, like antique stores, there are many different types and it’s difficult to choose the perfect one from the wide array of available options.


In this article, we’ll look at the different databases that are available, the specifics of each and answer the age-old question: what is the best startup database?  



A database of startups  


By definition, a startup database is a platform that features a long list of startups and scale-ups. You can generally find several pieces of information about these startups, such as the company creation date, the number of employees, financial information, the investors, etc. 


You can use different filters and criteria to search these databases. Moreover, some databases stand out from the competition by offering personalized features, such as a recommendation system or an evaluation of the potential of the startup under consideration.     


Startup databases serve different user profiles: investors, innovation managers in large companies, incubation program advisors, open innovation facilitators, and even entrepreneurs.     


The many startup databases available on the market include Crunchbase, Pitchbook, CB Insight and Tracxn—and those are just the most well known 

The pros and cons of databases

The main advantage of startup databases is being able to access such a long list of startups in one place.

There are an impressive number of startups and, by extension, potential solutions. While it is impossible to include every single startup in these databases, they do provide a good overview of the available potential.

The second advantage is their search systems.

Although the search systems may be more or less efficient or user-friendly from one database to another, they are certainly more efficient than a Google or LinkedIn search.  


However, there are also a few drawbacks.     


One of the main ones is related to the information that is available in the databases.

In reality, startups evolve rapidly, so it’s very difficult to keep the information in the databases up to date. That’s why it’s important to supplement and cross-check the information via other digital channels, such as LinkedIn or the startup’s website, or by contacting the companies directly.  

Other disadvantages include the limited additional features that the databases offer, such as options to rate or recommend startups.

It should be noted that these features apply rather rudimentary selection criteria and only use the information that is in the database, which is usually insufficient. In any case, it’s preferable to have an evaluation done by a person and a recommendation made by experts in the field, such as open innovation consultants.  


In summary, databases are a great way to identify specific startups from a wide range of choices; however, these tools are inadequate when it comes to gathering information or evaluating startups.  

Which database should I use?

To access startup databases, you have to pay a certain amount of money, which varies according to the type of database and its functionalities.   

The question that comes up regularly is: what is the best database?  

The answer to this question is complex, because no one database is better than the others. There are several that stand out, such as Crunchbase, Pitchbook, CB Insights, Tracxn or DealRoom, but their performance depends on your needs.  

These databases may fit your needs depending on the geolocation and maturity of the startups you’re looking for, your budget, your industry or the number of startups that fit your search. For example, Pitchbook has more mature startups than Crunchbase.     

On the other hand, the startups that come up will not necessarily be the same from one database to another.   

As a concrete example, during the Collision Lab team scouting for the 5G program with Verizon and Bell, we would not have been able to find all the selected startups in a single database. 

Of the startups selected for this program, we noted the following statistics:   


are not in CB Insight


are not in Crunchbase 


are not in Pitchbook 


are found in the three databases mentioned above 


This example shows that having access to several databases allows you to broaden your horizons when looking for startups and that, in reality, no one database is better than the others.


Furthermore, having access to these databases does not necessarily allow you to select the best startups. To do so, you need to set up many precise evaluation criteria, retrieve the relevant information and perform an exhaustive evaluation and selection. This requires specific expertise 


In conclusion, databases are an indispensable tool for identifying startups; however, you can’t rely on only one of them. The ideal is to have access to several of the databases that specifically meet your needs. It’s also important to remember that using databases requires specific skills, especially when technology scouting. 


At Centech’s Collision Lab, we have access to several startup databases in order to carry out your technology scouting requests. We have also developed our expertise and tools to identify, evaluate and select the most relevant startups for your needs.