See the process I used to raise more than $60 Million in Funding
Fundraising is hard. It’s one of the hardest things that must be done in a startup. This is the job of the CEO and accomplishing this task earns the CEO their title. Every entrepreneur I’ve ever met has experienced the uncertainty and stress of a raise at all levels.
While technology blogs will hail a fundraise as a great success and make it seem like the process was easy. As someone who has raised over $60MM from investors over several rounds, I can assure you that this is not true & the size of the financing has no impact on the difficulty. Raising $500k vs $50MM is just as difficult and sometimes more difficult.
While there are many blogs and thoughts about how to create a pitch deck and present to investors, there isn’t a lot written about the actual process of doing the raise. I found Mark Suster’s series on fundraising pretty fantastic on covering more of the process of the fundraise and has a great point that this is a sales process. I want to supply an example of how I run my fundraise sales funnel & supply a simple tool for entrepreneurs.
How I Run a Fundraise Process
- Get Organized
I most often see entrepreneurs using a simple spreadsheet to organize their financing process. This quickly gets messy and doesn’t have the capability to take in to account the complexity of the fundraising process where warm intros are needed and there are multiple meetings amongst multiple partners. Salesforce & other CRM’s are too heavy for this process and are not targeted at doing a fundraise process. I use a trello board to organize this process and you can find my template board here
2. Focus on Who Can Connect You to Investors
Often times entrepreneurs focus on first making a list of target investors and funds. However, entrepreneurs often find themselves having no means to get in front of these individuals with a warm introduction. Also, while more VC’s are blogging and putting updated information on their website of their actual focus, what is in their strike zone is constantly changing month to month.
A better way to think about getting in front of investors is to begin with your personal social network and think about who could connect you to investors. These should be people who have preferably raised capital in your industry and are willing to go to bat for you. Put these people with their names & emails & ideas of who they can connect you with in the “connectors” column.
3. List out possible investor targets
To source possible targets, first create a list of companies in a similar space to yours. For Shine, this was Ring, Owl Cameras, TrackR, Nest, etc. Then you can use Crunchbase to see the financing rounds at these companies to understand who & at what stage invested in each company. These become your targets. At each firm, who you pitch matters and spend some time to research the best partner. However, as mentioned above, what’s more important is who your connectors have relationships with. The person at the firm who your connector has a relationship with is best.
4. Activate connectors
As simultaneously as possible, email, chat, meet with all your connectors and get their feedback on your business & pitch. Then ask them for who they think could be a match and suggest some possible ideas for them. Your goal is to have your first meetings with investors as closely together as possible otherwise the financing process will be delayed and it will become difficult to gain momentum.
5. Meet with investors and activate more connectors
Meet with investors and your goal is to put most of them in the “No” category as quickly as possible. Be gracious when getting “No” and thank them for any feedback provided. I prefer not to push for feedback as this is often seen as a way to attempt to reverse a “no” & the feedback tends to be contradictory with other investors. Keep them up to date for the next round.
A Few Things To Keep In Mind
- Fundraising is a market of one. You need one yes to get a lead and quickly close the round. You do not and will not get everyone to say yes. Set your expectations accordingly
- Speed is your friend. I like to view my goal is to get as many no’s as quickly as possible
- Be okay with the business slowing down. You can’t do everything and fundraising needs to be your 100% focus.
Would love to hear about how you run your process and hope the template helps!