It’s after the holidays! People are back from their hot or cold vacations, the christmas trees are shedding needles and waiting to be recycled — and you need an investment, now!
So whether you were you roasting chestnuts or burning the midnight oil — time to get your Investor materials in shape for Investment Season. This is the longest stretch — nearly uninterrupted from January to June so this is truly “Money Time.” Hopefully you have your pitch deck in peckin order (if not, check out the winning ingredients for a pitch deck here) Here’s a few things that will help you go the extra mile:
- Your LinkedIn Profile — It shouldn’t come as any surprise that a potential Investor’s first stop will be your LinkedIn profile. Looking at mutual connections who could vouch for you, your work history and also, your ever important summary. Do you have a profile? Is it filled out? Make sure there are no gaps in positions you’ve held and this is a great time to reach out to a few former colleagues or managers to ask them for a recommendation — not just an endorsement, but a real recommendation of your work.
PowerTip: You have an opportunity to do more than just put a generic sentence or a few bullets about yourself. Give some thought to the summary, tell the story not of what you’ve done rather WHO YOU ARE — What is at the core of your values, assets and skills? What’s the theme that connects your work history? Where does your passion come through. Throw in a favorite quote for some interesting flavor. Remember, they’re looking to invest in great technologies — and great people!
- Your Email Blurb — The best way to get a warm intro to an investor is through someone they know and trust — preferably a Founder they have already invested in. so if you’re asking someone to stick their neck out to introduce you, make their lives easy by having a “company blurb” — a brief paragraph or 2 simply explaining what your startup does to pique the interest of the receiving party.
PowerTip: Use the classic elevator pitch format of problem — solution and an exciting tidbit about an accomplishment or the market. Don’t just send a generic, technobabble paragraph that they would have to read 5 times to understand — make it interesting, make them curious enough to want to meet you. Oh and be kind to your intro’er — write in 3rd person so they can easily copy and paste the blurb into their email without having to rewrite the “I’s” and “we’s.”
- Your Follow-up Email — It’s very important to follow up after a meeting, not just because it’s the polite thing to do, but because Investors are busy people and believe it or not, you aren’t the only thing on their mind. You have to be persistent! Elizabeth Yin, Partner at 500 Startups writes that as an Entrepreneur she was afraid of bugging Investors too much but as an Investor she is so busy that she often doesn’t notice when someone has pinged her 3 times. She suggests to follow up when you say you will, then if you haven’t heard back, follow up within the week (about 3–4 days later) then about 3–4 days later. And always have a call to action so they know what it is you want them to do!
PowerTip: Have a follow up email template created and in your canned responses on gmail (read how to set it up). You can have a canned response called Follow up 1, Follow up 2 and Follow up 3. (After 3 I suggest adding them to your update newsletter list). The follow up email should (subtly) answer these questions:
- Who are you and when did we meet? (remember they meet tens of Founders a week!)
- What were a couple main points we discussed during the meeting? (Show me that you remember something I said, I’ll know you were listening)
- Something you acknowledge or are grateful for in the meeting? (Not only were you listening, you took it in, aww shucks…)
- What’s your suggested next step? (What do you want me to do about this email?)
- Why I should do it/What’s in it for me? (here’s the place to create what Yin calls (credible) “urgency”- you have a Demo Day coming up, you’ve had second meetings with several investors, you’re raising a smaller note and there’s X space left, etc. Don’t say you’re about to close the Round unless you really are!)
Now get out there and get those meetings! Good luck!