The WHY in the investor intro ask

We’ve written a lot here about fundraising and investor introductions.

One of the key things to successful fundraising is being prepared, and one of the key pieces of preparation is to correctly target the list of investors.

Most founders start with a generic list of potential investors they get from the Internet and other founders. The problem is that list isn’t relevant.

The founder who is not doing the work would typically send me an email like this:

Subject: Intro to Fred Wilson?

Hey Alex,

We are fundraising now. Can you please intro me to Fred Wilson?

Thanks!

John

You know exactly what my response will be to that – I can’t. I really can’t.

Not only because I value my relationship with Fred, and don’t just send him everyone who asks me to.

It is because there is no reason given.

The founder didn’t explain why his company may be a fit for Fred.

Here is a much better version:

Subject: Intro to Fred Wilson?

Hey Alex,

We know that Fred likes to invest in businesses that are networks. We are building a new kind of network for X, we’ve hit key milestones since launch, and we’d love to get Fred’s feedback.

Would you be able to pass a forwardable intro?

Thank  you,

John

This version is a lot closer to something I would actually consider passing over. The #1 important thing is the explanation for why the investor might be interested. Explanations that typically go well:

  1. We are in the vertical that this investor is interested in.
  2. We are using the model (SaaS, Enterprise, Dev tools, etc.) that this investor is interested in.
  3. Our company is analogous to 2-3 other companies in this investor’s portfolio.

The founders need to do the work to research potential investors. This equally applies to both angels and VCs.

When you don’t do the work, and come out with a wrong ask, people think you are lazy and immediately pass.

Each investor is different. You need to figure out what their interests are before approaching them.

For example, Primary has two partners; Ben Sun and Brad Svruga. Ben invests in consumer, Brad invests in SaaS. You can tell that from their profiles.

Another example, angel investor Bob Pasker invests in dev tools and enterprise. You can tell that from his Angel List.

Another example, Jim Robinson IV from RRE ventures is a thematic investor. That means he invests in cycles and themes that change every few years. You can tell that by reading about him.

It is a actually a bunch of work to put your investor pipeline together, and to come up with the reason for why you’d want to speak with the specific angel or VC.

But once you do the work, your chance of getting an introduction, interest from the investor, and eventually a check is much higher.

Become an investor nerd. Use LinkedIn, AngelList, and partner profiles. Do the work, it pays off!

Fundraising Venture Capital