Business

How to Raise $20 Million in 7 Steps, Lesson 2

6 Ways to Find the People You Need in Order to Get Funded

When you decide to raise outside capital, it’s unlikely that you’ll already know everyone you need to know in order to get funding. You might know a bunch of people, or you might know no one. Either way, creating a long list of people you can turn to for advice and insight will help you close more funding in the long run. You’ll want to talk to anyone and everyone whom you think might be interested in your idea, mission and business. There are far more people than those currently in your network with whom your company might resonate. And some of those people might be the ones who end up giving you funding. 

If there are individuals that you need to know, but don’t know yet, consider the strategies below to not only find out who they are, but how to connect with them. This outreach requires a lot of hard work, tracking and pitching, but the deeper you go and the longer (and more informative) that you make your lists, the more likely it is that you’ll find the investors you need. Make the top of your funnel as large as possible. Below are some of the resources you might investigate.

Tech publications and databases

Sometimes you don’t even know who you need to know. Publications like TechCrunch, ReCode, FastCompany, Gizmodo and The Verge and databases like Crunchbase and AngelList can help you understand who is getting funded and by whom. This will help you get to know what founders are getting what investments, as well as who in your city or state regularly makes angel investments. You can take note of the names of investors you might want to put on your list, and names of founders who can help you get to those investors. From there, you can make a plan for reaching out by finding mutual connections or contact info. Additionally, look at companies that might be similar to yours. Use Google News  to search “funding” plus their company name, or look at company press sections to see who is funding those businesses. 

LinkedIn

How do you find mutual connections? LinkedIn! If you need to be connected to someone, but aren’t sure who can introduce you, LinkedIn is your best bet. Search the person you want to get in touch with and see who your mutual connections are. Blindly asking to connect with someone you’ve never met isn’t a great strategy, particularly when it’s likely that a lot of people want to talk to the same people you’re seeking to meet. Thanks to LinkedIn, you can ask someone you do know to introduce you to the contact you want to know. So, figure out who knows the person you’re trying to get to know, then set up coffee or a phone call with that mutual connection to share your idea and see if they’re open to introducing you to this potential investor. Amy sat down for coffee with dozens of people who sat in the role of “mutual contact” to others she wanted to pitch — and from those meetings ended up with the connections she sought (and many investments to boot). 

Local events

Whether you look to Meetup, Eventbrite, The Riveter events or other organized experiences, showing up at events where people are talking about fundraising, life as a founder and/or startups will likely connect you with people you need to know. Walking into rooms where everyone has the common goal of getting their startup funded and scaled will bring you into contact with people who can help you. Plus, these rooms are a great low-touch way to get comfortable talking about your company with people you’re meeting casually. Remember to get contact information for the people you meet (rather than handing out yours), so you can keep the ball in your court and add those people to your list. Amy met one of her early Riveter investors when she attended Seattle Startup Week in 2017. She raised her hand to ask a question during an event — and, as you should do, introduced her company before asking the question. A fellow audience member loved Amy’s idea and sought her out after the event to discuss The Riveter. The rest is history!  

Email your network

Sometimes, you simply don’t know the power of your network until you ask them to help you solve a problem. A great way to tap your current network and to expand it is to ask your friends, colleagues and family for introductions to people, investors or advisors who might be interested in your idea. Send out a group email BCC’ing everyone, tell them what you’re working on, and ask them to respond if they know anyone who might be interested in what you’re doing. Then, once they respond in the affirmative, send a forwardable email that makes it easy for them to introduce you. 

Other founders

Founders have fundraised. Founders have been through the same challenges and battles that you have. They understand what you’re going through and are likely to help, AND they have investors, advisers and board members that might be interested in what you’re building. Look in your network for founders you know, and ones you don’t know but might be tackling similar issues, and you’ll be even closer to the insights, investors and connections that got them funded. 

Online outreach

The internet has democratized access to individuals. Now, with a single 280 character tweet, or one DM, you can get to people that you never would have previously been able to reach. Use this ability to craft intentional communication to get in touch with the investors or advisors that might be able to help you. If you can be creative, supportive and direct with whatever message you craft, you just might get an answer that will open the door to a meeting. 

Remember, you won’t likely fundraise from only the people you know. Your list needs to be full of people you don’t already know, but want to know. Getting in touch with those kinds of people won’t be easy, but if you’re committed to it, investing the time and energy to connect with people you don’t know and eventually get meetings with them will increase your likelihood of getting funded. This process is long and can seem tedious, but it’s just the beginning of the journey.

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