Get Your Pitch Heard
One of the biggest surprises I’ve seen is the sheer quantity of founders seeking capital that have reached out to me personally. While I’ve had success founding and operating tech companies, I’m an absolute nobody when it comes to investing so far. This month is 3 weeks old and I’ve already received meeting requests from about 250 startups.
For early stage startups with first time founders I know how getting an investor to believe in you can seem more important than your first customers, but I’ll save that for another post. I would like to see founders spend less time raising capital, and the easiest way to do that is to get in front of the right investors with a compelling message.
I’m sure the pace will slow down, but here are some of the tactics that founders have used that worked on me to get the meeting. I’m sure other investors have different formulas, but with the goal of saving founders time as you are fundraising, here we go!
What has a worked better so far:
- The CEO reaches out directly. The CEO is the one with the vision, I want to hear it from her or him directly. Business development team members should not be doing the outreach.
- Email. My email is my todo list and reading your pitch is something I’d like to do. If your note is sent in a LinkedIn message or a DM on Twitter, it just doesn’t make my todo list. It’s not your issue, it’s just my inability to work in multiple spaces.
- Be clear and concise in the outreach. Outreach can be cold, but not long. Anything longer than 10–12 sentences is too much. This shows that you are able to understand what’s most important. I like to understand what the problem you are solving is and why you are uniquely qualified to solve it. What do you believe to be true that others haven’t seen yet?
- Tell me why you are reaching out to me. There’s a great Godfather quote, “Why come to me? What have I done to deserve such generosity?” Maybe you’re from Chicago, maybe you like the Cubs, maybe you went to Miami of Ohio, maybe you sell to large enterprises, maybe you saw me speak or a post I wrote resonated. Show me you did some research and tell me why I would be a value add to you and your mission.
- Include the deck. One pagers that are good just make me respond asking for the deck. Why waste that cycle? Even if the deck doesn’t resonate, I’m able to respond more quickly and provide feedback which is hopefully helpful to the founder.
- Respond back within a day. The ability to keep momentum going is to your benefit. I didn’t realize how hard the context switching is on the investor side.
- Be persistent, but with new information. Follow up is important within reason, but make that follow up count. Keep it short and keep including the deck, but give a substantive update if you reach out again. This could be that a new customer signed up, a big new feature was released, you made a new hire, you received a term sheet, a new insight was developed, etc.
As I re-read this post, I realized that I used some of these tactics when raising my Series A for Yello, but not all. I think that cost me time which I could have used to provide more value to my team and customers.