Fundraising is a lengthy and tedious process for most startups. It requires a lot of admin and can take a long time. Investors will want to talk to founders before giving their hard-earned money. It can take from a few weeks to 6 months. As you talk to a lot of investors, you will need to follow a process to be in touch with investors, as you may forget details that can become really important. Most founders do not know the fundamentals of raising and their implications, so I’ve decided to create an easy guide for you.
Start by specifying your targets
Do your research before starting to reach out to investors. You need a plan. Who do you want to raise from? Who will help you with introductions?
It is good that you take some time to focus and decide what your targets look like. Spend at least an hour to think about the basics
- How much you would like to raise as well as how much you need to raise for the fundraising to be worthwhile
- Type of investors that you are looking to get (angels, HNWIs, family offices, VCs, strategic) and how many of each type. For angels, 5 to 20 might be a good target.
- The target amount of investment per type of investor
- Who will become lead investors? You always need a lead investor for any type of round, so make sure you define which would be a good one
- Types of investments that your investor prioritizes (angel, pre-seed, seed, Series A, Series B, Growth)
- Where you are looking to fundraise in (cities, countries)
- Sectors of investors that might be interested in your proposition (focus and secondary sectors)
- Other details that might be specific to your situation
Choose your solution
You need a sales engagement platform to create a sequence to determine when and how your interactions with investors should happen.
This could be as simple as building out an Excel template or a Google Sheet (if you need to collaborate with a team) or you could use a more advanced platform such as Outreach.io (which costs $140 per month). The advantage of a SaaS platform is that it can bring in artificial intelligence components. These can help you decide what you should be doing next, as it can prioritize your activities automatically for you, telling you what is really important, pushing your performance. Also, it can extract customer details and information about their situation, for example, if you get an out of office message from a specific investor.
These platforms can also help with A/B testing, checking what subject line for an email works better, checking open rates, as well as click rates.
Create a list of investors
Fundraising can be seen as a funnel, and we first need to feed this funnel with some prospects. There are different ways in which you can find investors, and this depends a lot on the type of investors that you are looking for.
For angel investors, there are angel networks which you can join for a fee. You can also find the angel investor tag on people on social networks such as Linkedin and Angel.
For VCs and family offices it is possible to take data extracts from Google searches, as well as specialized services such as PitchBook and Crunchbase.
Know that you won’t spend much time with most of the investors that you get onto your list. Your task is to deal with a large volume of people with attention to detail.
Once you have a company name and a contact inside of it, you will want to check that the investor fits your investment criteria (size of investment, stage of investments, sector) as well as if they may have any portfolio conflicts (if they are investing in one of your competitors). Also check the quality of your investors, as you don’t want to spend hours with them if they won’t work for your company standards. Remove any investor that doesn’t fit. Time spent categorizing investors is time well spent.
Once you have your list of investors, categorize whether you know the person, whether you will seek an introduction to them, or alternatively do a cold approach.
Try to work hard on introductions, as these are 500% more effective. If you are getting introduced and you have more than one person in common, start with just one introduction as it could get a bit awkward. Choose your closest person. They will let you know whether they are placed to make an introduction, or whether they don’t know the person well enough
If you are doing a cold outreach, I sometimes find that the best approach is a combination of channels, like Linkedin combined with email. Investment portals don’t get checked very often, and Linkedin messages can be easily forgotten. Cold calls can be a bit intrusive. The odds are against you.
You might want to design a sequence of contacts, for example on day one you connect on Linkedin, on day two you send them an email and on day three you could contact them via their website contact form.
Once they respond
Once they respond to you, you can categorize these officially as your leads. The process of converting leads into offers has started. You got them in the process and you are progressing them. At any point in your process, investors might tell you that they are not interested, and in this case you can move these contacts into your Rejection list. However, having a rejection from one person inside a VC doesn’t mean that you can’t approach other employees, if you are convinced that you have a good reason to keep on trying.
Once you have a response, the natural flow of events will involve sharing your deck, having meetings and calls with them, progressing onto a meeting with a partner of the firm, requests for further detailed information, sharing a term sheet, performing due diligence, creating the legal documents for the equity purchase.
Stay on top of your leads
Make sure that you record the last interaction that you have with your contacts, so that you can follow up with them. People get busy and they might deal with too many people. Set a reminder date to follow up and chase, for example, 2 weeks.
As you get more information on their interest, track the level of curiosity of the investor, and categorize the size of the potential ticket, you can make an educated guess on a minimum and a maximum amount of investment that you could get from them, if they haven’t told you directly.
It is also useful to track what you have actually shared with them, such as your teaser, your deck, your financial model, your metrics, your NDA (for checking investment pipeline or offers), etc. You should also ask your investors whether they would like to get updates on your key milestones like new partnerships, vendors, app releases.
Track your offers
When you get to the offer stage, categorize your investors based on the likelihood that they will invest. You could group by those who have an offer confirmed, those that are willing to follow, and those that might follow. It is good to firm up on their total investment potential as well, so make sure you have asked them for their range.
Finally, it is also key to identify who could be the lead investor, the one that will take a substantial piece of your equity and also attract followers into your round.
If you get too many offers, you might need to decide who you allocate the capital to. This is a nice problem to have but a usual one for firms that do really well during their fundraising.
Fundraising is a full-time job for founders that also need to keep a company going and demonstrating traction. The best way to make this process more effective is to be diligent about the whole phase, and use a process and the support tools to make this a success.
Feeling overwhelmed? Contact us at TopPitchDeck.com to find out how we can help you fundraise.