I am constantly making introductions for members of my network. And sometimes I am fortunate enough to get one in return.
As @JasonFreedman points out, investors don’t want to meet you, they want to be introduced to you! He suggests that when you begin to seriously look for early-stage financing, you should try to get 40 — 60 introductions (no more than 3 from any one person). He also suggests that you should solicit introductions from literally everyone (people you know, and sometimes even people you don’t quite know yet). He says:
- Get introductions to your friends’ investors.
- Get introductions from entrepreneurs that aren’t your friends (pitch them, ask for advice, and make it count — if they get excited, they will make an introduction for you).
- Get introductions from your early investors (as soon as the wire comes through, turn them into evangelists).
Matt Galligan (@MG) reveals in a recent article, a referral from a trusted source is invaluable to investors (and entrepreneurs, sales people and anyone else): “In almost every circumstance that I’ve ever had a warm introduction, something has turned out good about it.” If a personal connection vouches that they respect you for your ______ (integrity, work ethic, intelligence, ingenuity, insert bespoke quality here), the receiving party is a lot more likely to want to hear from you:
“By going through warm introductions and having qualifying statements…the person vets you and says, ‘Hey, I think these guys have a great idea,’ or ‘I like this guy but I’m not sure about this idea but maybe with a little work it’ll get there,’ and in almost every circumstance that I’ve ever had a warm introduction, something has turned out good about it. Either that has turned into a business relationship, or a personal relationship, or something like that.”
In their timeless and awesome Pitching Hacks bible, the guys at VentureHacks spend several chapters discussing importance of a warm introduction, how to ask for an introduction, who to ask for an introduction, and more. They suggest that if you don’t have a warm introduction, don’t even bother.
@Nivi and @Naval take the opportunity to pitch their own disruptive startup AngelList (recently funded with $24 Million from A-listers including Google Venture, Atlas Venture, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Marc Andreessen, Max Levchin and Ev Williams (all of whom have profiles on the site). AngelList truly is changing the early stage tech financing landscape with truly novel and revolutionary products that leverage recent US securities law changes, and allow investors to aggregate syndicates of backers, and to streamline the private investment processes.
AngelList also provides some pretty powerful APIs, that some forward- thinking hackers and founders are leveraging to create some pretty cool Apps. Check out for example: PocketAngel, a native Android App, the Angels, a native iPhone app, or Simplr, an iPhone app that uses an adaptive personalization algorithm to increase discovery of relevant actions happening on AngelList. And of course, with Dashboard.io, Dave McClure’s 500 Startups built their internal tools against the AngelList API, using it not only for authentication but also as a database for their vast community of startups, founders, mentors and investors.
Getting a warm introduction is a valuable feature on both the Linkedin and AngelList platforms. On Linkedin, there are great features to determine your ‘degree of separation’ and an easy ‘AJAX-style’ Get Introduction feature, that walks you through the process. Pretty seamless, and very helpful in clutch situations. Unfortunately it isn’t available on mobile. (Until March 7th, 2014, Linkedin had an iOS app (Linkedin Intro) that allowed you to do the process right from your iPhone, but they are unfortunately discontinued it because of some ‘over integration’ complaints). Linkedin provides a somewhat terse blogpost about their deprecating the app here.
On AngelList, they are also streamlining the ‘get intro’ process (its in beta, but worth checking out!). An entrepreneur can see how they are connected to any investor, either through their followers on AngelList, or mutual connections on Linkedin. AngelList also allows access to Mutual Connections through their (beta) Paths API. (So does Linkedin!)
That’s one of the ways my startup, Gnito — an iOS 7 app that makes getting warm intros dead simple— is helping entrepreneurs. Please check it out. Simply login with any social network, search for US Accredited investors by name or Twitter handle, see how you are connected, on which platforms (AngelList or Linkedin), and ask for an intro though your mutual connections. On any platform you choose. Please check it out: Gnito.
We’ve mashed up APIs from AngelList, FullContact, Linkedin, Twitter and more. We would love to hear what you think. We think of this as our beta test, and you are our elite beta users! If you want early access, and have an iPhone with iOS 7, please be in touch. Please be candid with your feedback. We are constantly improving.