By Alejandro Escamilla

50 Investor Tips After Meeting 500 Investors for Raising Money

The before, during and post investor loop for closing startup funds.

While participating in my fourth accelerator, Start X, Sahin Boydas (my cofounder) and I realized that many entrepreneurs have similar questions related to fundraising. After taking 500 meetings with investors myself, I thought it would be helpful to list some of the most useful tips that many startup founders experience throughout the investor loop. This is a particularly helpful “cheat sheet” for angel and seed stage entrepreneurs looking to bring in their first checks.

These investors comprised of a mix of the following:

75% A+ Seed and Series A investors (~ fund size 25M+)

25% Angels (serial angel investors including high profiles investors and entrepreneurs)

Hopefully, these tips — broken into categories of Before, During and After — help answer some of your most burning questions while starting to fundraise.

Before the meeting:

During the meeting:

27. Always speak from the heart and be honest with investors. Nobody likes a fraud.

28. If you don’t know the answer to the question, let them know you will get back to them about it. Don’t make something up. If there’s no trust in you, how can they trust you to take their money?

29. Sell your story and vision for early-stage companies. Investors invest in you early on.

30. If you don’t have the traction or business model hammered down yet, talk about the total addressable market (TAM) and how you’re going to ‘win’ the market.

31. Speak about why you’re the best founder and team to solve this ‘problem.’ If you have any previous relevance or insight on why you are the one to fix the problem, that goes a long way.

32. Investors like to be inspired and usually enjoy high energy during the meeting, so try to keep the excitement contagious for the big idea you’re about to execute.

33. Don’t let the meetings drag on for more than an hour. You’re a busy entrepreneur with product to build so 45 minutes should be plenty of time for the first meeting.

34. Ask the investor questions. This is a two-way street. Some examples of a couple questions are, “How will you help support our company as we grow?” Or “How do you help your startups once you invest?”

35. Treat the first meeting as a ‘I’m getting to know you and you’re trying to get to know me’. You want to get the most out of this meeting so you can learn if the investor is going to be a good strategic fit for your business or not.

36. Know that the deck isn’t the end all be all. So don’t panic if you don’t open your deck once during a meeting and instead only chat with the investor. Sometimes you’ll use the deck and other times you won’t.

37. If you don’t think they’re a great investor or fit for your company, don’t continue with the full pitch. There’s no need to share everything if it’s not going to pan out. Wrap it up quickly and leave.

38. For better or for worse, after several meetings you know within the first 5 minutes whether an investor is going to be a good fit for you or not. So trust your instincts.

39. Listen to investors during the meeting. Nobody wants to partner with an entrepreneur who isn’t thoughtful and does not listen to an investor or some ideas they may have to improve.

40. Be open to take advice and feedback because it will only help you more in your next meeting.

After the meeting:

41. Keep in mind that everyone has an opinion, and not all opinions are good. Nobody knows your market better than you, so take every opinion with a grain of salt.

42. Learn to let go of the meeting and prepare for the next meeting. Many times investor meetings are back to back and you need to learn to let go of the previous meeting and prepare for the next with the same kind of new and high energy as the first. It’s pretty common that some meetings don’t go as smoothly as expected whether it’s an investor who’s on the phone the entire time while you’re pitching or asking questions unrelated to your business. So don’t let one bad meeting spill into the next ones.

43. Try to follow up with the investor within 48 hours thanking them for their time and asking if there are any questions they might have.

44. It’s good to have another investor you know or a trusted fellow entrepreneur back channel with the investor to get honest feedback.

45. Fundraising takes an average of six months. You should be able to close a check within four months and usually, the domino effect happens as soon as you bring in a big angel or lead investor.

46. It’s important to show progress to early investors so they know you’re dedicated and serious about execution (especially if you’re a first-time founder). Be prepared to meet with angels every 3–4 weeks to show progress and build a relationship with the ones you really like.

47. Pay attention to what you think worked or didn’t work about your deck or your story during fundraising and be prepared to modify and change to make a stronger story for investors. Your product is always iterating and so should your story.

48. If you don’t raise within the allocated time you set for yourself, you have to wait six months to start the process again. Find another way to survive and take a break from fundraising for six months so that when you restart, it is a fresh new round for investors and not something you’re shopping around for months on end.

49. If you meet a lot of investors you really like, it can be helpful to group the investors in an email (all in bcc) to keep them updated on your progress. It can help maintain the relationship for the long term.

50. You’ve taken the time to read all of these pointers, so get out there and fundraise!

* Thanks Alysha Light for your help in finalizing this article :)

Dana Loberg is CEO and co-founder of Leo AR, the first augmented reality communications platform that gives anyone the power to enrich the world around them with realistic 3D and 4D animated objects and photogrammetry. Follower her @luckyloberg.

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