Investors hear the same pitch all day long. Make sure you stand out.
Fundraising is a team effort, so it’s important that you work with the right lead investor. Together, you can effectively build your dream team of investors. You should focus on working with investors who have extensive networks and knowledge in your startup’s market. Focus on crafting the ideal roster with precision and clarity. Below you’ll learn how to set up meetings with clear actionable emails, just as we did at Loopd when we set out to do some serious fundraising.
Step 1: Perform Due Diligence
You should be taking “smart money” rather than “dumb money.” Essentially, only take money from those who can help your business in other ways. Do your due diligence on every investor and make sure you’re only bringing on people who advocate for your vision and can help you execute on your goal. You should have between five to seven investors who can help you in different aspects of your company. I looked for investors who had skills in sales, manufacturing, analytics, marketing, design, hardware and legal.
Money is valuable, but an experienced investor’s knowledge is priceless. Also keep in mind that each investor will look at your background. The formal research process will be shorter with a super angel than it would be with a firm. I would recommend going with super angels in your first round because going through due diligence with a venture capital firm or angel group will act as a time sink.
Step 2: Get an Introduction
Now that your due diligence is complete, you’ll want to get an introduction to each investor from your lead. Provide your lead investor with a template and have them copy you on the email. Having your lead investor send the first introduction will act as validation. Here is a template that I used:
I met with ____ and his team last week. I would like you to join the round with me. I know that you will be a great addition. He is aiming to close by August 31st. Attached is an updated overview of his company.
Imagine how many emails each investor must get every day. You need to stand out from the rest. The introduction should be simple and focused on your team. At the end of the day, your team’s execution drives your product and market analysis, and you will want your lead to present you as a rockstar.
Step 3: Use an Email Structure
Once you’ve received a response, you’ll want to reply with specific content to move the process along. Now that you have a foot in the door, you must take advantage of this leverage. Your reply should be short, to the point and have a clear call to action. Ask the investor to meet in person and provide a few times and locations. Here is my own example:
Thanks [LEAD INVESTOR] for the introduction. I am confident that you can help our company grow in the right direction. We’re raising [ROUND SIZE] on a note. Here is our term sheet. Let me know if you have any questions. Are you free anytime next week from Monday, April 6th, to Wednesday, April 8th, to meet in person?
If the investor is not in your area, then drive or fly to make it convenient for them. Don’t attach a pitch deck or a one-pager to the email. This will just provide more ammunition for the investor to turn you down. Save your material so that you can personally explain each detail from your perspective. At Loopd, I had several situations where investors declined an offer to meet because I had sent them attachments with an undirected storyline. The investor should become attached to your vision, and it’s important that you don’t create any opportunities for them to shut you down before you reach this point.
You now have the ammunition and direction to identify your final roster of investors to meet in person. While these three steps may seem straightforward, it’s important that you follow them carefully. You should stand out from the pack, explain your vision in the right environment and create a true connection with the investor before moving forward. Take your time to build the right team and create a foundation that will fuel your company into becoming an industry leader.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Image credit: CC by Sebastiaan ter Burg.