It’s not difficult to find information about public figures online. It’s as easy as Googling their names, with or without the News filter activated, and scanning the results.
If you want biographical details or a sense of their personality, there’s Wikipedia and the major social media sites (assuming they have active handles). Same goes for well-known “corporate persons,” i.e. incorporated companies with lots of employees and/or publicly traded shares.
But what about the great mass of anonymous or semi-anonymous people and organizations? They might be well-known in their fields and be active on social media, but finding lots of accurate and/or insightful information about them is harder. To say nothing of reliable contact information, which is obviously critical if you’d like something from them.
Hopeless? Not quite. If you’re having trouble getting the skinny on people or firms that aren’t quite household names, try these eight also-under-the-radar databases and portals before giving up.
Foundersuite is one of the best places to find information about entrepreneurs and the people who support them financially, especially in the tech industry. Listings are information-dense yet uncluttered, showing key roles, raises, and biographical details without lots of superfluous detail (looking at you, Wikipedia).
Foundersuite also has a built-in CRM that facilitates outreach to people in its database, if that’s the logical next step for your research. Do note that a good portion of the information here is gated and requires you to sign up for membership. This listing, for example, has a lot of apparent detail that’s not visible without a subscription.
Crunchbase is another people-and-places database with a bias toward the tech industry and its funders. Its aperture is broader and the database itself is more comprehensive than Foundersuite, though — albeit without the convenient built-in CRM.
The nice thing about Crunchbase is that it gates much less of its information, which is helpful if you’re looking for hard-to-find details about relatively obscure entrepreneurs or investors. Crunchbase also does some information synthesis, like its helpful “startups founded this year” lists.
Call it a Wikipedia knockoff if you want; Wikialpha and its ilk prefer the term “open-source wiki-based resources.” And hey, there’s no law against making your own wiki-based resource.
Wikialpha isn’t as comprehensive as Wikipedia, but it does have a hidden superpower: It’s designed to tell the stories of people who don’t meet Wikipedia’s sometimes overly picky “notability” criteria. You’ll find some obscure organizations on here as well.
Everybodywiki is another “less picky” version of Wikipedia. Its mission to include people left off Wikipedia is even more explicit, so it should be the first place you look if you’re not finding what you need there.
Like Wikialpha, it’s smaller than the original but growing briskly. If you’re not able to find your target on Everybodywiki but can find what you need elsewhere, consider adding an Everybodywiki entry for them to ensure you’re the last person with that problem.
Wellfound is a talent-focused database with data points on millions of professionals, primarily in tech-adjacent industries. It’s an indispensable resource not just for hiring managers and HR leads but for managers and supervisors thinking ahead to their next hire and for headhunters planning the next quarter.
ContactOut is arguably the best resource for contact details like email addresses and phone numbers. It takes inputs from thousands of public sources that even the most adroit researchers lack the comfort (or the time) to comb through on their own — saving a great deal of work and aggravation on the back end. The catch is that heavy ContactOut users have to pay the equivalent of a significant monthly fee; your call whether that’s worth it.
State Business Registration Records
This isn’t just one resource, of course, but if you’re casting a wide net for businesses and their principals, you’ll need to get familiar with dozens (if not all 50). The good news is that once you get the hang of researching business registration databases, they’re an absolute font of useful information.
State Voter Registration Records
State voter registration records contain less useful information than business registration records, but they’re still helpful for gathering relatively recent details on large numbers of people in a specific geographical area. There are drawbacks: One is that most states charge for voter file access, and a second is that the typical voter file contains far more names than you’ll need (and thus requires lots of cleanup before it’s useful).
Up Your Research Game
Great researchers utilize dozens of digital platforms, depending on what or who they’re looking for and the sort of information they need. If your job or business doesn’t depend on sussing out below-the-fold details on people or companies, you probably won’t need to use most of them. But if and when you do, it’s nice to have a go-to list of sources at the ready.