Fundraising is one of the most dreaded, brutal and misunderstood things a founder will do. That’s why we dedicate the last 4 weeks of our program to teaching founders how to do it successfully. So far, 77% of companies who graduate from our program have fundraised successfully afterwards.
Part of our philosophy to fundraising is to talk to as many investors in the shortest amount of time possible. In technical terms, you want to fundraise in parallel not serially. You’re trying to create pressure to get investors to say yes or no. An effective way to do that is to get another investor interested. Investors are human and like most humans, they’re more willing to do something if someone else is.
To achieve this, you need to be organized. Like all good sales teams (fundraising is sales), we use a CRM. Over the years, we’ve developed a template we used at our startups and now use with companies in the batch. Like the Metrics Scorecard, we’re now making it publicly available in case it can help even more startups.
We think more startups, not just the ones that go through our program, can benefit from it so we’re making it publicly available. Get access by filling out this form.
Step 1: Create CRM
Our template is built on Airtable (most of Iterative is) but feel free to use whatever equivalent tool you like. Fundraising is more or less a sales process so we’ve seen founders have success with Pipedrive, Hubspot, etc. For the rest of this post, we’ll be assuming you’re using our template on Airtable.
In the template you’ll find 3 tables.
- Fund - The funds you’re interested in or are talking to.
- People - The people you’re interested in or are talking to. We split Fund and People because (1) it’s important to track who you’re talking to at a fund and (2) you might talk to several people from the same fund.
- Interactions - The interactions you’ve had with people. If you’re doing it right, you’ll talk to 75+ investors in a short period of time. It’s impossible, but valuable, to remember who you talked to, what you talked about and what the next steps are.
- Duplicate – Duplicate the template into your own Airtable account
- Remove Investors – The investors in the template are there for illustrative purposes but are also some of our favorite investors to work with.
Step 2: Add Investors
Now that you’ve created your CRM, it’s time to build the list of investors you want to reach out too. That should include investors you’ve reached out to (even if they didn’t respond), you’ve talked to (even if they passed) and investors you want to talk to for this round.
It’s important to be thorough here. As I mentioned before, one of the keys to fundraising successfully (that most founders get wrong) is to talk to as many investors, in the shortest amount of time as possible.
- Past Investors – Add investors you’ve reached out to or talked to in the past. It doesn’t matter if they’d said no in the past. You would be surprised how many investors say no at one point and end up investing later.
- New Investors – Add investors you would like to talk to. Don’t worry if you don’t have their contact information.
Step 3: Qualify Investors
Like any sales process, you want to start with and spend most of your energy on the investors who you want to invest and are most likely to invest. Most founders don’t pay enough attention to the latter and waste their time.
If you’re a Pre-Seed startup, trying to get a Series A fund to invest, you’re wasting your time. No matter how much they might want to, they are bound by their LPA (Limited Partner Agreement), an agreement between their investors that dictates what they can and cannot invest in.
On the flip side, later funds are often happy to talk to very early companies, even if they can’t invest, to learn about what’s happening and build a relationship with promising companies they might invest in later. It’s not bad to build relationships with later stage investors but it doesn’t help you with your current fundraise.
To figure out who you should talk to, for each investor, ask the following questions.
- Do they invest at your stage?
- Have they made an investment in your space?
- Have they made an investment in a similar model but different space?
- Have they written about your space?
- Do you already have a warm introduction?
- Did they reach out to you?
- Prioritize – Based on what you know and the questions above, quickly go through your list and prioritize the funds. 5 stars if they are high priority and 1 star if they are low priority. You’ll quickly find that you can’t answer the above questions for most. That’s what the next step is for.
- Research – For the funds you’ve identified as high priority, start researching the funds to validate that they invest in your stage and whether they’ve made investments in your space. As a result of your research, you might change the priority of funds.
Step 4: Contact Investors
Now that you have your prioritized list, it’s time to reach out to investors. As previously mentioned, the goal is to talk to as many investors in the shortest amount of time as possible.
- Start with Top 20 – Start with your top 20 highest priority investors.
- Find Warm Introductions – Find warm introductions for each of them. Having a warm introduction significantly increases the chances an investor will engage with you. The best source of warm introductions are other founders and investors. For the latter, if you have existing investors, they can and should be helpful in making introductions.
- Schedule for Same Week – Schedule as many of the investors calls in the same week as possible.
Step 5: Update
Update the CRM as you talk to investors. As you get more information on what they invest in, check size, etc. update their information. After every call or meeting, record the interaction with notes on how the it went and what the next steps are.
Fundraising is intense, time consuming and chaotic. Keeping the CRM updated is an effective way to stay organized, be effective and keep your sanity.
- Update Investor Information – As you talk to investors, you’ll learn more about what they invest in, check size, etc. Update their information in your CRM.
- Add Interactions – After each call or meeting, record an interaction with how it went and what the next steps are.
I hope this as helpful to you as it’s been to us. It’s a lot of upfront work but once you start fundraising, you’ll be glad you did it.