Startup Investor Relations 101
Once a startup founder has raised outside capital, regardless of stage or amount, it is time to think about building a lasting relationship with his investors. Here are my top four tips:
- COMMUNICATE regularly with each investor/director by sending a monthly progress/update email. Spend 30 minutes detailing all your accomplishments, challenges and go-forward plans. You don’t want to wait until your next board meeting or until they email you asking what the hell is going on.
- ASK each investor/director for help each month. Think about how each investor/director can help you — perhaps with a product launch, a candidate for employment or a business development deal. If you keep them busy they will be a LOT less likely to get in your ‘business’. One of two things will happen — you will get much needed help or he will hide from you.
- MEET (in person or via phone) with each director PRIOR to each board meeting. Show him your agenda and ask him if there is anything he’d like discussed at the meeting. If there are controversial issues to be discussed determine where he stands. If he’s on your side enlist him to meet one-on-one with directors who might not be on board yet PRIOR to the board meeting.
- DOCUMENT each interaction with your investor/director. The day after your board meetings email an overview of what happened and what decisions were made to each director. You will approve the minutes at the next board meeting, but you’d be surprised how time can change your perception of history. Do the same thing EVERYTIME you engage with your investor/director — a quick followup email detailing what was accomplished and what everyone has committed to do is VERY important.
Let me know if you have any ideas to improve your investor/director relationships.