Four great questions when deciding on the right investor - to add value to your startup beyond just the cash:
So how do you find these investors, and how do you get them to meet you?
Research their profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, visit their websites, read their blogs and listen to their podcasts. Attend networking events to identify key members of the investor community and meet other entrepreneurs.
You want to make yourself and your venture visible to this community.
Generate buzz in online communities:
Online communities such as Product Hunt and Launching Next are gold mines for investors to discover the next big thing, so make sure to make some noise on these platforms. Product Hunt is well-used by influencers, investors, and media professionals, so making sure that your product is available on this platform is an excellent way to generate buzz and get the attention of investors who are a great match for your startup.
Connecting With Investors On LinkedIn
Investors don't usually have profiles on Instagram or Facebook, but they will have a presence on Linkedin. Engaging investors on LinkedIn requires some upfront work. You will need to do some initial targeting, exercise meaningful engagement, and ensure that your profile is attractive to VCs.
The benefit of connecting on the platform is that investors can read your profile to understand your professional background and relevance to your startup. They can also check for mutual connections to do a quick reference check.
Check if the VC is part of any group that indicates a mutual interest area and use that group to reach out to them. Be sure to keep the message short, giving a 3–4 sentence summary of your venture and the problem you are solving. Ask for a 15 zoom call to offer more background and see if there is mutual interest. Avoid long messages.
Prepare your outreach collateral:
Investors' background data will allow you to personalize the introduction message and explain why your startup is a good fit! Keep it short with a concise description of who you are and what your startup does. Create a maximum of one page and if you attach a deck - make sure it's no more than 15-20 slides.
Lead with your strengths, such as customers and traction (revenue and growth). If you are starting out, explain why you and your co-founders are a great fit for this market! We recommend having 5-10 bullet points in your email teaser but hold back on sending the whole deck. Remember that you are selling a meeting at this point - not explaining the entire business plan! If you get a response asking for the deck, you have started the dialogue and can now ask for a web meeting!
An introduction from a trusted contact can help raise founders above the noise.
It can be a fellow entrepreneur with a track record, another investor with a mismatch of the stage, a renowned advisory firm, or any other well-regarded person in the investment community. The decks introduced from trusted sources tend to reach the top of the stack.
Other ways to maximize your investor outreach are by connecting via online matching-making or distribution platforms. One of our favorites is Decksender, who will preview your deck and make sure it gets sent to the right investors. The platform allows you to track engagement with your pitch, see how it performs, and build your funding funnel!
Participate in pitch competitions. There are plenty of these, so carefully select to attend the ones where your target investors are participating. There are many online events, run by organizations such as MeetFounders, so you need to practice a super short 3-5 minute pitch. Again, remember that you are pitching to get that second 1:1 meeting. And don't forget to smile!
If you get a 20-minute zoom meeting with an investor - keep the pitch to 10 minutes to allow for another 10 minutes of questions. Remember to make your pitch into a story - and get your main points across. Be generous about who you are. Tell your own story in a couple of minutes and why you are passionate about your startup. Personality goes a long way!
Remember that when investors listen to startups pitching, they often make a first gut decision based on their own experience and biases. Even partners of the same VC firm will make different first decisions. Some follow a check-box method to see if the startup matches their investment criteria (e.g., ARR, growth rate, product stage, NRR, region, etc.). Some investors are more "pattern recognizers" and will say, "I'll know a successful investment when I see it"!
Fundraising is no different from selling. It's a matter of building a funnel through prospecting and generating meetings. Through your pitch and storytelling, you need to build trust, excitement, and FOMO (fear of missing out!) You need to come across as someone who will listen to advice, is not afraid to make decisions, and has a strong will and well-researched opinion. You are competing with thousands of other entrepreneurs, so you need to stand out!
You want to qualify investors as quickly as possible to focus on the ones displaying belief in you and your venture! Don't try to convince someone who is clearly against your idea and time trying to convince non-believers.
If you get a pass, ask the investor the top 3 reasons so that you can learn from each decline. Then don't be shy to ask if they can recommend some other investor that might be a better fit. When you get knocked down - brush off the dust and get up on the horse again! It's a game of perseverance!
Good Venture Luck!