4 min read
Opinions expressed by Contractor the contributors are theirs.
In June 2020, my start-up Love With Food – which helps food businesses build brand awareness online and offline – raised $ 650,000 after graduating from the 500 Startups accelerator program.
Related: 4 VCs Insider Tips
Sounds good, right? But if you think fundraising was a breeze because we were 500 alumni, think again. In fact, these three months were painful and filled with discouragement. They were physically exhausting. And along the way, I had to constantly fight my own thoughts that I was failing. I had to defend myself against the doubts of others that I could not succeed because I had no education in Ivy League or that I did not have the qualifications required to lead a startup. I was on the verge of giving up countless times.
In the end, however, I introduced 75 investors and raised more money than we needed. I also learned valuable lessons and tips that not only helped me with this first round three years ago, but have helped me raise additional funds since then.
1. Put your business on the list of angels.
Access the list of angels. I cannot stress enough how important it is that your business is profiled there. After starting to tend on the List, we had many incoming interests. In the end, three investors from the Angel List invested and one of them eventually became our leader. Without the list, I would not have met these contacts!
2. Be flexible.
Be ready to fly or go to meetings at any time. There are days when I have five consecutive meetings, which makes me bounce like a ping pong ball all over the bay area. Yes, it was a lot of driving and I may have felt “left out”, but the flexibility helped me get investor meetings at times that suited them.
3. Reach out to your network.
I contacted my network of entrepreneurial friends and asked their investors for intros. Everyone to whom I reached out was so generous. Take advantage of your own relationships!
4. Tracking updates.
After each meeting, I wrote a thank you email and over the next few weeks, I continued to provide updates and progress to potential investors. This is of utmost importance in fundraising. This is the only way to be persistent. For an early start, there is really no good data to display. But you can be persistent. You want potential investors to see it!
The 3 ingredients you need to impress a VC
5. Send an email to potential investors once a week.
Investors are shown all the time. You want to be constantly on their radar so they don’t forget you. I kept a spreadsheet with their names and dates of interaction: when we first met; the date of my first “progress” email; the date of my second “progress report” email; etc. If I don’t hear a response after I send three update emails, it usually means that the prospect is not interested. It’s also a great way to filter out those who are genuinely interested compared to those who are simple maybes.
6. Ask current investors to introduce you.
Warm introductions are the best introductions. Your current investors want you to reach the finish line. Ask them to connect with their other investor friends.
7. Don’t be afraid to speak to the press.
Once, I basically kidnapped a TechCrunch reporter from the Demo Day ladies’ room to choose Love With Food as one of the top 7 startups for the event. She did, and even mentioned our meeting in her article, which led two investors to reach out because they liked my tenacity!
8. Wear your corporate t-shirt.
Be proud of your brand. There is no better way to show your passion to complete strangers. Showing people how passionate and proud you are about your brand leaves a lasting impression.
There is no cookie cutter formula for fundraising, but I believe the common thread in fundraising is perseverance. Prove that your opponents are wrong!
Related: What You Need To Know About Financing Your Business Through Friends And Family