Driving with open eyes
You are head of a young innovative company and you need to raise cash and fast because paying your researchers, your office, your consultants, your IP … tends to be mighty high and your burn rate seems to create a bigger hole in your sock than you initially anticipated.
Your current cash flow and last EU grant can probably take you up to 5 months down the road but not much more. If you haven’t read my previous post on the importance of anticipating your fundraising campaign, then indeed It’s time to fundraise without further ado ! so let’s get the show on the road.
Your first instinct, after having done the ground work explained here , is to list all the investors you & Google know, whether they be Venture Capital funds, Private individuals, Corporates or family offices and send them your deck that is freshly out of the oven.
Promising, you say? Well, you may think otherwise after having sent 150 cold emails and … no cash to be seen on the horizon, while sand is flowing down the hourglass.
Not to worry though, as easy fundamental rules can be followed which will lead you onto an easier path.
Shoot towards the right target:
A while back, fundraising to the right target was generally straight forward: you would start with your local Business Angels then Family offices and for your series A, you’d contact VCs and Corporate VCs. Today, the scene is a bit murkier with some coming in as early as company creation while others will turn their back to anything earlier than a Series B. Piece of advice, don’t believe everything you read on the websites!
Like so many things, the definition changes according to the person you ask, so have a look at the kind of deals each investor does.
If you raising a small Series A of 3 M, what do you think your chances are to get the attention of an “early-stage “VC that does €70 M + rounds ?
My point exactly !
Seems logical but how many times have I seen, let’s say, MedTech companies contact purely Biotech investors? You may be a great medical device company but if said investor only invests in drug development companies, sorry to say you threw your fishing rod in the wrong lake.
I am the first advocate of cross border investments and that unlike vegetables, local is not necessarily better. However, many, too many “European” investors are actually national ones, either because the LPs do not allow it or because they are uncomfortable playing in an area where they have no contacts or partnerships. If you do target a foreign investor, make sure you underline the added value they would bring in terms of market knowledge, partnerships …
Cold emailing: More often than not it is similar to throwing a rock in a pond. It doesn’t come back to the surface and this for multiple reasons: wrong target, wrong wording or the cold hard truth that investors (excluding Angels) only look at companies sent by their peers or other trusted referrals. When your annual incoming dealflow goes beyond the thousand, you are somewhat wary of a lonely wolf with no connections.
So go out and find connections that you can activate, personalize your message and deck, or even better yet, use fundraising programs that open those doors and windows for you. They’ll be your best emissary until you get your very own investors.
One thing is sure, if you choose correctly, your investor will be your best ambassador for future connections and rounds and do you know why?
Firstly, let’s suppose that they are still enthralled by you, your team and your project. Most probably it is that, they want to make sure they can see growth for you and an exit for them in that crystal ball you hold. However, for that to happen a bit of preliminary work is necessary.
- If you are lucky enough to have the freedom to choose your investors, then try to talk to their portfolio companies and assess their level of commitment post investment.
- If you can, think long term when choosing your investors –their numbers on your cap table, internal expertise and strength of their network that will come in handy if you encounter bumps along the road.
- Always maintain a healthy relationship with your investors, however small their investment may be. Keep them informed of your progress, issues, seek out their advice and when the time comes to get the address book out, they’ll be more than willing to help.
I humbly hope that these few simple rules will help you thrive beyond the usual first painful steps of fundraising.
Finally, and circling back to the title, drive with open eyes so you can be sure to reach your destination.