Finding Investors Feels like Taking the Hero’s Journey
If Jason and the Argonauts had to raise a seed round from angel investors, the Iliad would have never happened. If Copernicus needed angel investing then we would still think the sun revolves around the earth.
Yes, it can be that hard to find investors. Not because there are not great businesses with amazing teams. And not because there are not world class investors who want to support these businesses. The ecosystem falls down in connecting these two parties at the right time. Over the past 15 years, we have seen SaaS companies solve millions of problems, create massive efficiency in markets, processes, and networks. But raising money still feels like showing up to a high school dance at a school where you don’t know anyone.
I have raised upwards of $40MM for various companies at various stages from seed to go public. For this article, want to focus on the seed round because, in many ways, it is the hardest. The entire premise of the seed round is that there is NO COMPANY or PRODUCT, often it is simply an idea and the experience of the team. There is no greater leap of faith than seed raising.
Here are three approaches that have worked.
Find a great email list or platform to network with investors. There are many, Angel Match is a great one, founders by entrepreneurs based in NYC and the monthly fees are totally reasonable (there is a $99 dollar plan). Use these lists to market your deal to a wide range of investors. Be ready, open rates might be low. That is ok though because your investor is somewhere on the platform so cast a wide net. Build a great “yoursite/invest” page so investors can quickly go there, understand who you are and what you do. Lastly, do not forget Angel List - build your profile and make connections.
Old skool, individual 1:1 networking is highly effective. Do your research, whether from a platform or your own independent research. Find investors who invest in your industry sector. Make sure to tailor messaging or email to each investor individually with a clear 1 sentence value proposition. Investors are busy and want to understand in less than 30 seconds what it is your company does, how it works, and how they can make money.
Invest in your personal brand and channels. Keep talking about what you do, how important it is, what is going on with your customers - literally be a fountain of knowledge. At some point, investors who care about your industry or customers, or technology will find you.
So to summarize.
Use platforms to find a network and market your deal.
Network the old-fashioned way, one to one with tailored messaging.
Be a thought leader.
I hope all this helps and if you feel like your ship is lost at sea, know that a great thing is just around the corner. Keep sailing, smoother waters are just ahead in your journey!