If you’re a first time founder, the fundraising process is likely the most daunting part of your journey. You know you need to do it, and you also know that you’re going to need some help.
At Forum Ventures, we dedicate almost half of our 4-month program to the fundraising process, bringing in mentors, holding pitch practice, helping our cohort set up meetings with the right investors, and preparing them for those meetings.
Getting and nailing those first investor meetings is probably the most important step to a successful round. We recommend founders meet with 40-60+ investors in order to land on the 15 or less they’ll need to “seed” their new company. In order to meet with this many investors, founders will need to reach out to even more.
There are three steps in this outreach process: Build your list of target investors, get warm introductions, and prepare for those conversations. Let’s go through each of these together.
1. Build Your Target List
In order to maximize your outreach efforts, your initial target list should be strong. That means that it consists of investors in the SaaS space who have previously invested in your sector and startup stage. That way, they will more easily understand the problem you're trying to solve, the market opportunity, and the potential for your company.
To find these investors, we recommend a mix of looking online and within your network.
The platforms to check out online are:
Then, search on LinkedIn for investors that are connected to your network (i.e. 2nd connection) that fit the criteria we outlined above.
Once you have a list of firms, try to identify the right partner at each firm to reach out to – the partner your company will resonate with the best.
2. Get Prepared
You’ve made your list and are ready to ask for introductions. Before you start on that path, we recommend you pause and get prepared for those intros. They could happen faster than you think, and we want you to be able to respond quickly.
Here are the 3 things you need to get prepared:
- Write a 3-4 sentence blurb or bullets to summarize your business, team, traction and customers. It should be exciting enough to stand on its own and get you a meeting.
- A short deck that can stand alone without a talk track that will pique an investor’s curiosity. This should be short, visual and textual, with much less information than an Investor deck.
- Your full investor deck that you will go through in your investor meetings, complete with FAQs. Leave off the data room for this version so you don’t create too many questions or objections off the bat.
3. Share Your Target List
Now that you’re fully prepared, it’s time to get yourself some introductions! The best way to do this? Through your network. Here are the best people to send your list to:
- One of your customers who is connected to a portfolio company of the VC
- A current investor who is connected to the VC
- A former co-worker who will speak highly of working with you
- Mutual connections in general who will speak highly of you
This probably goes without saying, but make the intro easy for them by pre-writing an email specific to that investor that they can simply forward it along.
Once you’ve tapped out your network, if you haven’t booked those 40-60 meetings, you can start cold outreach. This will be a little harder, so try to get everything out of your network that you can first.
To summarize, here are the key points to remember for securing your first investor meetings:
- Search for investors who are already investing in your space
- Use your network to get introductions to target investors
- Get prepared before you ask for introductions
Once you’re fully prepared and have started your investor outreach, it’s time to think about fundraising strategies. Stay tuned for our next blog post that will break down the different strategies so you can figure out what will work best for you.
Download our Complete Fundraising Guide for First Time Founders
We know firsthand how difficult the fundraising process can be, so we’ve written a comprehensive guide to help! Check out our latest eBook: Raising Your Seed Round for First Time Founders, to get more advice on how much to raise, how to nail investor meetings, how to prepare your data room, and more. Grab your copy here!