Managing Your Fundraising Pipeline
As part of my fundraising-focused book’s chapter on “The Search for An Offer,” I mention the creation of a ‘pipeline’ of investors, similar to a sales pipeline, that helps you manage your fundraise.
In an effort to shed more light on what a potential pipeline could look like, below is a link to a Google Sheet that hopefully you find useful in planning your fundraise:
This pipeline template will hopefully help you focus who you want to talk to based on the criteria that best suits your company’s fundraising needs (eg. geography, round size, stage, sector focus, etc) and maximising the connections you have to reach them. Whilst I know people use different tools to track investor comms/relationships, I wanted to offer the below merely as a suggestion for a simplified way to help track and stay on top of the many conversations and relationships needed to aid the fundraising process.
In order to get the most use out of this template, however, consider the following points:
1) Copy & Paste this template onto a shareable Google Sheet, which you share with your key team and key shareholders that will assist you in reaching desired connections for your fundraise.
2) In column A, only put names of people that best suit your current fundraise (feel free to create a separate sheet that ‘archives’ people you want to talk to for rounds further down the road).
3) Be disciplined about researching investors’ suitability for your raise. Aside from looking at their website, ask other founders or friends/shareholders that have interacted with the investor to get estimates on all variables, including how much they typically invest, sectors of keen interest for your contact person within the fund (or angel’s interest), and what their typical fundraising process looks like.
4) Scour your LinkedIn and the LinkedIn connections of your key team members and key shareholders for the best person(s) within a fund (or angels) for you to get introduced to.
5) In column ‘G’ of the template, add the friend/colleague/current investor within your network (as per #4 above) with the strongest relationship to make the introduction to the person you want to meet.
6) If you don’t have a direct connection to that person you’d like to talk to (within a fund or angel), use LinkedIn to identify a connection (a few is possible as not everyone is best friends with people on LinkedIn, and you might need to ask around for the strongest connections) within your network that could help you with an introduction to that person.
7) When the time comes to request an introduction, make it easy on the introducer by drafting a simplified email that they can forward on your behalf with why your opportunity would be of interest for the recipient and a one-pager (or more information in a simplified format) about your company attached so that they can get an idea of what you are working on and they can determine if it’s of interest. That way, your connection simply has to hit ‘forward’ with some simple text like “Dear [friend in VC fund], one of my other [friends/investments] would like to talk to you about their raise, more details below, please let me know if of any interest so I can make an intro”.
Aside from these steps above, try to get your introductions made in a tight time-frame and from a diversified set of sources. Nothing is worse for you than to drag things out longer than they need to or saturate one person with introduction requests (it is less effective anyway). Once you have your list, dedicate a few days to cranking through the introduction requests, sending out emails, replying to first meeting scheduling and getting your fundraise started!
Best of luck and make sure to check out the rest of my book on fundraising (The Fundraising Fieldguide) on what to consider once you receive an offer!
ps. thank you to Otto Soderlund for the idea on the founder point-scoring for the utility of the investor.