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Written By: Janine Kick


You’ve built your deck, you’ve prepared your pitch and now you’re ready to get in front of investors. Let’s go for the big guys: Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, Andressen Horowitz. 

Just a second… 

For your sake, it’s probably worth being a bit more intentional. Measure twice, cut once as they say! It’s worth remembering that you’re selling very valuable company stock. Which means you aren’t going to sell to just anyone… 

Creating the most targeted (and organized) investor prospect list possible is crucial to a successful raise, yet it is constantly overlooked. I get it — you’re eager to get out there and get the funds, and if you’re really onto something you likely have investors knocking on your door. Why not meet as many people as possible, cast a big net? Because you need to build relationships that will be beneficial to both parties and will ultimately play a big role in the life of your company.

The more targeted your list of potential investors, the higher the odds of getting funded. You’ll have to deal with far fewer ‘no’s’ and hopefully, you’ll find the round will move that much faster. The ROI on your time will be far greater and that’s pretty important when fundraising is only one small part of your job as a startup founder. What should be considered when you build this list?  

It’s more art than science, but to start I suggest looking for investors that have invested in similar companies to yours. By similar I mean those that have invested in your vertical, industry, or even your business model. Then check their funding thesis. Most venture firms have an ‘About’ section on their website that will provide you with an outline of their “target” qualifiers. I should say in a perfect world your company would meet all of these indicators but most firms will flex on this criteria if they see *something* in you and your company during an early round of funding.

Ok, you’ve found a few (read: 30+) firms that look like good fits. Now, let’s get specific, take a look at their Partners and read their bios and blogs, keep up with the companies they’ve invested in, listen to the podcasts they’ve been featured on. I’ve found that if you can target a specific Partner by determining their interests and passions, they are more likely to take a meeting with you because it matters to them. If you’re able to cultivate an organic relationship from a feature, even better! After you’ve determined who would likely be the best fit for you to meet, look for mutual connections that can offer warm introductions. And if you don’t have mutual connections, ahem, I could point you in the direction of someone that is able to help you! 🙂 Another note here, Partners aren’t the only people to meet within a firm. Principles and Analysts will go to bat for you if they believe in you and generally speaking, spend a lot of their time looking for the next greatest startup. 

The earlier your list is assembled, the more time you’ll have to cultivate relationships with potential future investors. The more organized your list or tracker is before you start meeting with investors under any circumstances the less headache you’ll create for yourself as you move along in the process (trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way through multiple rounds of fundraising – email is NOT enough!). You’ll need to track the obvious things of course, but what really counts are the notes and action items you capture from your meetings. Having a plan for how you’ll track before you need to is vital, but we can get into that another time… 


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