In addition to the hands-on 3 Day Startup programs we run at universities, we offer a variety of ways to learn more about relevant topics surrounding entrepreneurship when our programs are not in session.
Last month, we partnered with Evan Loomis, Director of Corinthian Health Services, to produce a livestream about raising startup capital. You can view a recording of the session on our website.
Evan was also kind enough to put together a recap of best practices to reach out to investors.
Finding the Best Introduction
First, make sure you have a LinkedIn account. That’s the best way to identify people in your network that know investors.
Being a Good Introducee
For an introducer, an introduction is a dangerous thing. If the introducee misses the meeting, doesn’t do his or her homework, acts rudely, or makes vague or unreasonable requests, it can damage the introducer’s relationships and reputation. Access to someone else’s rolodex is a precious thing. Here are some ways to make sure you don’t take the introduction for granted:
- Keep all emails as short as possible. Usually, six sentences is the max.
- Suggest specific times to meet, but be flexible. Put all times in the time zone of the person you’ll be meeting.
- Be specific about what you are asking for. Never use phrases like, “Can I pick your brain?”
- Once you meet the investor, remind them who your mutual friend is. Do it quickly and in a way that is complementary. “Our friend Dave speaks very highly of you. He was kind to connect us. It sounds like you guys went to college together.”
Everyone knows someone.
Pick five people you know that might be able to help you with your goal and ask if you can bring them coffee for a short conversation. At the end of your meeting, ask, “What two people come to mind that might be helpful here?” Asking for three people is greedy. One is lame. Just ask for two. Give them a minute to think about it and wait for them to name two people. Mention that you’d love an introduction and that you will follow up.
Within a few hours, you should email them a general thank you email and then separate emails for each introduction you need. So, if they offer to introduce you to two people, you’ll send them a total of three emails.
Email 1: General Thank You
Thank you so much for your time and wisdom today. I know you are slammed with [insert something here showing that you are aware and applaud them for their success in what they are doing,] so I’m especially grateful. I’ve been thinking about [insert the one big idea / feedback they gave] since we met; it is a really great way to frame how we are thinking about our business.
Thank you also for the offers to connect me with Jason and Angela. I’ll follow up with separate emails that you can reference to make introductions really easy for you.
***Why This is Important: Following up and saying thank you are critical to building a long-term friendship with people you connect with. Make it easy on yourself by preparing your emails ahead of time, so you won’t forget once you’ve shifted your focus to the next contact.
Email 2 and 3:
Thank you so much for meeting with me to discuss our new venture: [insert your company name and tagline here].
Thanks for offering to introduce me to [investors name]. As you mentioned, it sounds like he’d have a lot of insight about [insert the reason they recommended the introduction]. I’d love to connect with him.
PS: As background for [investors name], I’ve included a blurb below on [company name] and my background.
About [Company Name]: [150 word description of your company]
About me: [50 words about you]
Optional: [Short pitch deck or executive summary]
***Why This is Important: On your roadshow, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to help you. By creating a separate email to forward along, you get to tell the introducee how to talk about you and all the introducee has to do is hit forward.