Why your network is the most important thing when meeting investors with 8VC’s Joe Lonsdale

Joe Lonsdale co-founded Palantir in 2004, which grew to become one of the world’s most influential, multi-billion-dollar data companies. He’s now a general partner at 8VC .

And he’s coming to Web Summit.

Before Joe’s talk at Web Summit, we talked to him about how startups should try to grab investors’ attention. A hint: don’t do it cold…

As an investor, how long does a startup have to grab your attention?

For a startup to grab our attention, it has to get to us through members of our community who understand our values and priorities, and who believe this team is worth meeting. The majority of our top investments come referred by a diverse range of trusted allies and friends. Our broad network of experts and industry leaders acts as an extension of our partners and is a strong representation of our values as entrepreneurs, investors, and friends — and acts as an important filter.

Is there an absolute ‘best way’ for startups to approach investors?

The best way for a startup to approach investors is through a warm introduction. Given the large number of inbound messages investors receive, cold emails often get overlooked as investors instead prioritise recommendations that suggest the company has attracted relevant leaders or advisors and knows the right way to reach out to get things done.

Has a startup ever caught your eye with a particularly creative tactic?

As we mentioned, the best way for a startup to catch our eye is to be introduced to us through our network. There are a number of ways we’ve seen new startups go about this. Some startups hire top talent that we know and hold in high regard; others bring on advisers or customers who are friends and allies or otherwise respected by our network. Flashy attempts to get attention are generally misguided and serve as a negative indicator.

What’s the one thing no startup should do when interacting with investors?

Startups should avoid bombarding investors. A warm and targeted introduction from a close friend is much more effective than emails coming from many random directions. That signals a startup is ineffectively managing its network and has learned it needs an introduction but is pursuing it haphazardly. Another thing to avoid is to show uncontrolled ego — all great entrepreneurs have an ego but when it comes out in obvious ways in trying to setup an early meeting, it’s not a great sign.

What do you hope to learn at Web Summit?

We hope to spend time with talented entrepreneurs and investors, and learn more about the solutions they are building to fix broken industries and how we can better support entrepreneurs in Europe.

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