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Seed Fundraising: 10 Traits Of Successful Founders

Seed Fundraising: 10 Traits Of Successful Founders

While there are many factors that influence fundraising, your behavior during the process makes a big difference. Here’s the most common traits of founders who successfully close their seed round.

The Basics

1. They Take In-Person Meetings. Phone calls rarely work for first meetings with investors as it’s hard to get their full focus. If you really can’t get an in-person meeting, then fall back to video chat. For example, a founder I recently coached was struggling to raise after ~40 phone meetings without a yes; once they began asking for in-person meetings, the round was closed in a couple of weeks.

2. They Do All The Work For Introductions. Take the time to comb through LinkedIn, Angellist and Crunchbase, looking for potential warm introductions to investors. When you ask for an introduction, make sure the introducer only has to click ‘forward’ to do their part. Most founders only partially complete the work for the introducer but if you make it simple for them, you can get 10x more meetings.

3. They’re Courteous. No matter how much demand for your round, it never helps to be rude. Even if an investor doesn’t respond negatively at the time, they will almost certainly talk about their bad experience with others, reducing the opportunities available to you. Instead, avoid being defensive and playing too much “hard to get”.

4. They Ask For Money. If you don’t ask the investor “Are you interested in investing?”, you are wasting the meeting. If you’re very early in the process you can ask “Where would we need to be for you to be interested?” but whatever happens: you must ask.

Working With Investors

5. They Don’t Brag About Investor Interest. Don’t discuss other investors you’re talking to, even if a different investor asks. Given most investors will pass, you’re likely giving the investor a negative reference. However, if both investors are interested, you risk them colluding on terms without your involvement.

6. They Evolve Their Pitch. Keep a document of common and difficult questions you’re getting from investors. Prepare strong answers in advance and add appropriate slides to your deck’s appendix. In 2016, I saw a founder change their pitch focus from a technology advantage to bookings revenue; they went from struggling to raise $250k from Angels to closing $3M from a top VC.

7. They’re Responsive. Respond to investor emails within 1 business day and provide data or new materials to an investor in a timely manner. Responding to investor questions may push them to a yes. Plus, investors will only have these interactions to judge how you work together.

Closing The Round

8. They Follow-Up. Send regular follow-ups, every ~3 days, to undecided investors. Update them on round progress, new investors and product or sales wins. This will drive ‘fear of missing out’ as the round’s availability dwindles. Ultimately, you have to accept that ‘maybe’ is worse than ‘no’ and push for a decision.

9. They Confirm Yeses. A yes isn’t real until you’ve confirmed it in writing. Confirm the investment and high level terms over email immediately and then get straight into the document signing and funding process. Once the money is in your bank, and not before, scour your new investor’s network as detailed in point 2.

10. They Look After Themselves. For most founders, fundraising is a marathon not a sprint. You need a healthy, sustainable routine to perform everyday for the ~90 days it usually takes to close a seed round. Nobody pitches at their best when they’re exhausted and almost nobody can survive on 3 hours of sleep a night.

The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.


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