The Essential Pre-Event Checklist for Your Startup

Fundraising events are a great way to meet investors. First impressions are important, so before you head out the door to mix and mingle over free cocktails, here’s 5 ways you can impress investors and get the most out of funding events.

1. Evaluate if your startup is right and/or ready for venture funding.

Do you have evidence of demand or traction? Do you have revenue or a built product with users? Is your team at least 5–15 people? Is your company attacking a broad market or poised to grow very quickly?

If most of these things don’t apply, it’s going to be hard to pique the interest of institutional investors. Have more questions? This overview of venture capital from HBR is a great place to start.

2. Understand venture funding.

You should already generally know the methods by which your company could be funded. Understand convertible notes, valuation caps, and basic equity financing terms. Reading Venture Deals is a great way to start learning these mechanisms.

3. Research the investors who are attending the event. Pick your targets.

Most events have lists of speakers and key attendees. Many venture capitalists are specialized by startup sector (industry) and fundraising stage (angel, seed, A,B, etc). Research who might be interested in you, and approach them first. The biggest names at an event may not be the best investors for your company.

4. Engage with analysts and associates.

A lot of entrepreneurs try to jump directly into deals by talking with partners, but analysts and associates are the ones typically responsible for bringing in leads. If you brush off these people, you can lose your chance with the firm.

You’ll also straight-up have better luck with the less senior people. They’re natural startup advocates because their younger careers have more to gain from a good deal or providing a good lead.

5. Have your follow-up materials prepared.

Be ready to demonstrate that you’re running a real business. At a minimum, you should have your pitch deck ready to go before the event. You’ll be more impressive if you can also offer to send over a data room. (Not sure how to make a data room? Check out my data room post for a guide.)

Are you a startup in the DC Metro area? Last week, I published 5 local events that every DC startup should mark on their calendar for 2017. Check it out.

You can follow me on Twitter @CherylFoil, and follow my firm Kiddar Capital on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Medium.