Let's flip the conversation from your typical research, Google searches, and thought process on fundraising in tech.
There are plenty of resources by funds themselves on how VCs, Angels, CVCs, and even PEs perform due diligence on potential portfolio companies.
As a founder or startup, you should absolutely be doing the same internal due diligence on investors PRIOR to reaching out & pitching. Think about dating, recruiting, or interviewing for a job. Are you swiping right on every single person or job? For your sanity, I hope not!
By creating your investor funnel and running through the checklist, you'll prevent wasted resources & a bad taste in your mouth. More importantly, you'll get to your end goal faster! Cuz let's be honest... $$$.
Before we jump in, you should note that fundraising & Investor Relations (IR) are full-time jobs for a reason. There is an art to communication, relationship building, & the entire R&D process. You will not be able to find ALL this information easily, and that's ok. We are always here to hold your hand, but you should identify what you are looking for before speaking to us or another consultant.
TL;DR: Don't go to a matchmaker without some kind of list. This is time-consuming, but you are asking for $$$.
Investor Funnel Template
When startups & companies hire us for investor relations & fundraising, this is where we start. In addition to our own database that we keep up to date, we add new contacts based off previous syndicate deals, partnerships, and of course any new funds that may be a good fit.
This funnel can be integrated with your CRM and Dealflow management platform. If you have questions about that, just send us a note! We also recommend an Investor Relations (IR) page or form option on your website.
Here's a quick overview of our sheet (for free, just for you!) in both Grid & Kanban view.
By the way, we're huge fans of Airtable! Innovating Spreadsheets, I mean come on - it's genius! For folks like us that preferred to stay away from Media Buying in Ad School, they make spreadsheets super easy to use & customize.
Not-Really-A-Disclaimer: They are not a client. Hey Airtable, if you ever want to chat - we so would!
The basics - the tabs / categories
We'll break down each tab in detail:
- Investor / Fund List
- Contacts (individual investors or points of contact at said funds)
- Industry Companies (not direct competition, but other funded companies in your vertical)
- Pitch Feedback (this is an Aleberry thing, but you'd be surprised how useful this is for noticing patterns)
This organization lends itself to a solid setup on your CRM or Dealflow platform, if that's your preference for Investor Relations. We would generally do this sheet first, then integrate actual applicable funds into your CRM as you contact them.
Investor / Fund Tab
This is your main overall focus, ie. the first tab. We also put this one in Kanban view based off Status.
- Fund or Investor Name
- HQ Location
- How To Reach Out
- Social Links (LI, Twitter, Angel.co, Crunchbase)
- Applicable Portfolio Companies
- Avg. Investment Size
- Key Metrics, Requirements, & Notes
- Contacts (links to CONTACTS tab)
- Feedback (links to Pitch Feedback)
- Industry Companies (links to INDUSTRY COMPANIES tab)
Fund or Investor Name:
This is how the Kanban view is sorted, and you can think of this as your CRM / Funnel Status. Where are you with the investor in the dealflow process?
- Internal R&D: Initial status. You heard of them & jotted their name, but need to do or are in the process of some R&D to ensure they are the right fit.
- Contacted: You did some R&D; it seems like they would be good. You've reached out. If you are curious about how to approach this, talk to us!
- Follow Up Initial Contact: Follow up on the initial contact if you haven't heard back, or if they requested a few more details
- Deck Sent: Things are moving along & you sent your deck! Maybe you already sent it with the initial contact, maybe you need tweaks, either way - they have something of yours to review.
- Pitching: They love your (hopefully beautifully crafted deck & story by Aleberry :) ) and have requested a pitch / meeting.
- Follow Up Post Pitch: I hope you sent a thank you of some kind post pitch. As your mum would say: Manners! Follow Up if you haven't heard back, or if you need to submit more information.
- Bad Fit: You're going to end your funnel here 90% of the time. Keep your head up, and remember the analogy of dating!
- Term Sheet Review: WOOT!! Negotiate or Sign or Pass. Either way you got their attention.
As a one positive of this COVID world, we're finding this is becoming less important. However, it is good to note where they are located for post-COVID, in-person pitches & general timezone coordination.
Good to refer back to. Also depending on your CRM, you may be able to auto-pull some data.
How would you categorize them? Important for pitching & understanding if they are a good fit or not.
- Individual Angel
- Individual VC
- Group (Syndicate or other)
- VC Fund
How to Reach Out:
In an effort to promote more diverse founders, many funds are opening their doors to cold intros. We've always been a big proponent of this because while relationships will always be an important aspect of every facet in life - innovations come from all kinds of founders.
If your product or company are amazing, you should have access to funds -- no matter your background.
Some funds may have specific details on their website about a) if they have an open round or are open to new deals b) how to send your submission.
If they don't, there are always ways to find out!
LinkedIn, Twitter, Angel.co, Crunchbase, Pitchbook, F6S... the list goes on, but we just selected a few. This is not an invitation to bombard them :) . It is an invitation to listen & see past investments.
VCs are more active on LinkedIn & Twitter. Often their thoughts are posted on potential investments, the market, and general ideas. Our mate Semil Shah with Haystack's Twitter account is full of great insight.
Applicable Portfolio Companies:
Are there any companies you know / are connected to? Any portfolio companies in your industry?
Founders who successfully raised are amazing resources, and most of the time - they are happy to lend a hand or intro.
Does the fund only invest in specific verticals/industries? We included a few common ones here, but feel free to edit.
If a fund only invests in FinTech & Enterprise SaaS platforms, your Medical Device will not even be looked at.
Average Investment Size & Deals Per Year:
Both these columns can be identified together. This will determine if the fund is the right fit based off your ask & what your chances are to receive funding.
Some investors make a handful of investments a year at $3-5M each, others do 30 at $1M each, and large funds may invest in a large number for both check size & deals.
Key Metrics, Requirements, and Notes:
Many investor websites openly state what metrics (traction, ARR, team, geography, etc.) they look for. You can also take a quick look at their portfolio & make some assumptions.
Use this column as a junk drawer of random notes if needed.
We don't know every investor in the world, nor do we pretend to! What you will quickly find is the investor world, especially in specific verticals, is small. We use these columns to see if there are any shared connections who could offer insight or intros to outside our investor network.
You can do the same & use the founder method if needed.
If we have an awesome AgTech company that would be a perfect fit for a CVC, we may not know the venture arm - but we may know someone at the corporation who can provide some insights or an intro.
VERY TARGETED outreach can be done delicately, just don't come off as a spammer. :) Scratch that, just talk to us first!
This is linked to the CONTACTS tab. It is a good place to connect specific folks to the fund. The team pages are full of insights into which LP / investor works in which vertical. Integrate this into your CRM once you start communicating with them.
Linked to the PITCH FEEDBACK TAB. As mentioned, this is an Aleberry thing - but we find it helpful when working with both funds & founders.
This tab is incredibly helpful for noticing patterns.
ASK FOR FEEDBACK & TAKE IT KINDLY. We can not stress the latter enough. An investor not only reviewed your deck, but they are willing to give you some insights on why they passed. Listen & decide if the advice is applicable or not, but don't burn bridges.
This will auto-populate from the INDUSTRY COMPANIES tab. More on that below.
This one needs a lot less explanation. It's basically your Rolodex for contact information. Make sure to tie the name to fund for Tab One. We added the last two columns on initial contact & last contacted, but don't always use those. If you are not using a CRM for Investor Relations - these two columns may be helpful.
Are there any companies in your industry / vertical that have successfully raised? Who did they raise from? This is a fantastic way to identify funds that will be further down your pipeline. It may also give you an in if you know the company.
While you should identify direct competitors, you should note that funds will not invest in direct competition. This may eliminate a fund for you, while also giving you insight into a similar raise.
Tag the funds!
We included a few common themes that we see, but you should add simple phrases here. Tag the Main INVESTOR Tab. Use the notes area to jot any additional details.
This will help you identify patterns, as well as make some fixes if possible (or just eliminate the fund from your list).
That's a lot of information!
Yes it is, but don't feel overwhelmed.
You are asking for money, so you should expect to spend resources (whether that is your own time or hiring someone to help with investor relations).
We promise this first step will eliminate many bad dates and get you to your goal faster.