How Not to Ask and How to Ask for VC Introduction


How Not to Ask and How to Ask for VC Introduction Photo

I’ve been getting a large number of bad VC asks lately.

What is a bad VC ask? A bad VC ask is an open ended ask for an intro to a venture firm. Here are some examples:

– Do you know anyone who might be interested in investing in my company?

– I am in NYC next week, what investors should I talk to?

The problem with these asks is that 1) they make me think too much 2) they show that you do not do the work and 3) they aren’t actionable.

I literally say NO to 100% of these asks.

Very often these asks come from the companies that I don’t really know well. This actually compounds the problem. For me to start introducing a company that I don’t know well is really difficult.

Its taxing and unfair for my personal relationships with investors.

Another problem is these bad asks are also missing the WHY?

WHY this particular introduction makes sense, WHY is this potentially a fit for investor. In my post about forwardable introductions we discuss setting the context and making it easy to do the intro.

So what is a good VC ask? Simply put, it is specific. Here are some examples:

– We are building a network-based business. Do you think Fred Wilson might want to take a look?

– We looked at Jim Robinson’s portfolio at RRE, and we think that he can be potentially interested in our business.

– We are building a business that has data at its core and would love to connect with IA ventures.

These are a lot better asks, and a lot more actionable.

I don’t need to think. It is simple YES or NO.

And you score a lot of points for actually doing the work, researching the Venture firms and partners. Read my post about raising Venture Capital for more best practices.

It is pretty simple to get this right. Do the work. Create a pipeline. Understand who you want to reach and why. Then use your current network to get introductions.

And to get you started in NYC, here is an awesome guide to venture from AlleyWatch.



Reprinted by permission

Image credit: CC by Grzegorz Grys

About the author: Alex Iskold

Alex Iskold is the Managing Director of Techstars in New York City.

Previously Alex was Founder/CEO of GetGlue (acquired by i.tv),  founder/CEO of Information Laboratory (acquired by IBM), and Chief Architect DataSynapse (acquired by TIBCO).

Alex routinely writes about entrepreneurship and startups at Alex Iskold.

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