Winter is Coming
The leaves are changing color, the nights are getting chilly, pumpkin spice everything, Burning Man is over and the last minute conference offers are pouring in.
Which means there is a tight second season of securing funding before investors head out to snowy peaks or holidays with family on sunny island beaches. In other words…
WINTER IS COMING
Ideally you’ve been honing your pitch, practicing running through your deck, and working your network to get warm intros to the best-fit investors for your company.
Not sure how to start with your fundraising?
Check out some great primers:
Elizabeth Yin writes a go-to resource for seed investing. Here is her overview of the current (Aug 2018) environment - Pre-Seed is the New Seed
“It struck me that a lot has changed about the fundraising landscape in even just the last 3 years.”
Geoff Ralston of YC wrote a Guide to Seed Fundraising in 2016. I especially like his solid advice on How Much to Raise. If you don’t read anything else, read the appendix of the article.
Parul Singh wrote a nice piece on things to think about when out on the hunt. A key tidbit:
“When it comes to aligning strengths and market dynamics, ensure that you and your investors match up on:
1) go-to-market strategy
2) product principles and prioritization
3) how involved you want them to be
4) how to handle it when things don’t go well”
And Crunchbase produced an article called What Does it Take to Raise Your Next Round in 2018 which I’d file under prep for success for early stage investors.
Nitty gritty advice:
If you don’t know about Mark Suster’s Both Sides of the Table blog , go and bookmark now. And take a look at his info rich article on Raising Venture Capital where he goes over everything from VC Season to prepping for a meeting to follow up.
How to even get a meeting?
Michael Seibel provides email templates in How to Email Early Stage Investors .
Mark Suster has a snap video on how to get intros to VCs.
Steve Blank gives advice on How to Get Meetings with People Too Busy to See You . I love this article because it not only explains the Silicon Valley pay-it-forward culture*, but gives a solid example of how to enact it:
“The meeting requests that now jump to the top of my list are the few, very smart entrepreneurs who say, “I’d like to have coffee to bounce an idea off of you and in exchange I’ll tell you all about what we learned about xx.”
And if all else fails and you have to cold email a team you really want to talk to, here is an example of a cold email pitch from Jason Lemkin.
If you get those investors onboard, you’ll need to get in the habit of keeping them updated. Start now with the post meeting thank you and show your CEO competence. Remember you are building a relationship and even if you get a no now, you may work with them in the future.
Start with: Thank you for your time.
Then check out this template from Hampus Jakobsson on writing investor update emails.
“Everything you write should serve one of two purposes: help you or inform the investors so they trust you and can help you in the future.”
Even if you aren’t ready this Fall, start prepping now for Spring 2019. Practice your deck every day and get feedback on it from trusted team members or friends with experience. Research investors and develop relationships. Go to pitch events and sign up to pitch.
Check back in a few weeks for my recap from LaunchScale, where I’ll hear a lot of perspectives on the current funding environment.
*I’ll explore in a later post the tremendous advantage this cultural ritual gives Silicon Valley that fosters success here and is not repeatable by just labeling something Silicon X somewhere else.
My name’s Kris and I help early stage startups. You can find me working on a post-accelerator program for startups at Covo SF or online at www.kriscorzine.com .