Raising Capital – Developing the Right Rolodex/Contact List 

Mindy Barker | Barker Associates

Finding the right investor, who is interested in your company and you, begins long before you actually may need money. Preparations include thinking about businesses that investors want to invest in and then modeling yours accordingly, maintaining up to date financial data, and building a strong consumer base. Once you’ve made the decision to search for capital to grow your business, you create two pitch decks (yes two), and the clock is now ticking. Your goal should be to secure funding within three months from making this decision. And the best way to do so is to have targeted contact list. 

First, Some Introspection 

Before you can ask anyone for money, you should first ask yourself some important questions. First and foremost, why are you raising money? Be very clear as to why you are doing so, why now is the time, and what the funds will ultimately do for your business. These answers should be weaved into the fabric of your business’s story and included in your decks and any accompanying materials you may present to potential investors.  

You should also do a check on your core values. Are they aligned with the company’s vision and mission? Are they still as relevant as when you developed them? Are changes needed? Only when you are confident in what you stand for can you try to find someone who shares …  

Who Should be on the List? 

Your targeted list may include any combination of some or all of the following: family and friends, angel investors, angel groups, venture capital firms, private equity firms, and corporate investors. 

Gather data by performing research on Crunchbase or Pitchbook, and simply networking with others. You should identify vertical industries to see what is happening there. Startup accelerators are also an invaluable resource. Follow groups on social media to see what they’re talking about and what they’re interested in. 

Keep in mind that you are not just looking for money. You are looking for someone (or a group) who shares your values, will be excited about what you offer, and who fits with what you do and who you are. Identify who has money and is actively investing. 

Factors to Consider in Building Your Contact List  

  • Industry. Who is investing in your industry? Why? Is there some personal connection or is it just about the potential profit? Note that those interested in one particular type of industry often have a background, experience, and connections that can help your business. 
  • Location. Some investors want to be close to the businesses they are investing in. Others give preference to local startups. It’s important to understand if this is a priority for them.
  • Amount. How much do they typically invest? Some may invest only smaller amounts than what you are looking for, whereas others may invest amounts that are larger that what you need. Ensure there is a good fit.  
  • Longevity. Are they looking for long-term or short-term relationships? Will they be involved for your next round of fundraising or will they want out before then? 
  • Track record. How many successful exits do they have? How many businesses they’ve invested in have failed? 
  • Value. What value do they bring? Investments into a venture are rarely just about money. Do they have operational experience? Industry experience? What are their connections and network? Will they provide advice based on their knowledge and experience? All of this will factor into how quickly you scale.  

This process is about targeting the right types of investors, focusing on quality over quantity. You want the best fit to bring the most value. As is with much in business, and life, it is about networking and cultivating relationships. 

Once you’ve identified some strong potential investors, gather as much contact information as possible, including email, social media accounts, website, phone number, and address. Understand that they will want to see your pitch deck to determine if it is a good fit with their investment thesis before moving forward. Being prepared sets the right expectations from the start. 

Your list should be an ongoing concern. Contacts will fall off and new ones will be added. By keeping it up to date, you can ensure that you will be ready for each round of funding in the future. 

Your most limited resource is your time. And the time you spend finding investors is less time you have to focus on operations, marketing, or sales. Protect that time fiercely by targeting the right investors from the start. With increased focus comes increased efficiency and clarity on what and who you really need. You may need to talk to 100 or more contacts to get some interest, but you don’t want it to be thousands. That’s where your targeted list comes into play. So you’re not spending too much time and energy and burning out before the right person comes along.  

Ultimately, if you need money for your business, you need people to pitch to and the more targeted your list, the more possible yeses you’ll have, and the greater ROI on your time. 

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