This blog post was originally posted in the Lisbon Challenge Blog. Both Lisbon Challenge and LIS – Lisbon Investment Summit – are organized by Beta-i. This post should serve as an how to guide for young sailors that want to get on board a more seasoned captain’s ship in the upcoming Lisbon Investment Summit in just a couple of days. And just to be sure, we’re talking about getting investment. You, naughty people…
If you’re an entrepreneur, you network. You talk to people, you exchange business cards, from customers to investors, from founders to aspiring entrepreneurs, because that’s part of your job. But from all those we mentioned above the one that concerns most startup founders is definitely investors. Going after investors and reaching out might be tricky, though not as tricky as you may think. But how should you do it? And how can you seize the opportunity of attending an event like #LIS15 – Lisbon Investment Summit where well-known investors from VCs such as Accel Partners, Oak HC/FT, Faber Ventures and Hoxton Ventures will be present?
To give you some tips on the matter we spoke to our Entrepreneur in Residence and speaker at #LIS15, Felix Petersen, who has invested in companies such as Soundcloud. Amongst many dating comparisons, Felix tells you all there is to know about raising the interest of an investor and building a relationship that will hopefully lead to a closed deal.
1. Do your homework and make a list of potential investors
There are many investors for you to choose from, however, “you shouldn’t make a list of 30 people you want to talk to because you don’t want to give the impression that you would take anybody’s money” like Felix advises. Do a short list instead. But in order to have a good shortlist you need to do your research and see who is the right investor. “Check their portfolio, their style of investment and see if you fit the profile” before reaching out. In the end, according to Felix, courting an investor is pretty much like dating so “if you feel like talking to 300 people on Tinder maybe you’re not too serious about intensifying the relationship with anyone”. And with investing “there’s no such thing as a one night stand”.
2. Reach out before the event – ideally with an intro
This is definitely a must-do. Remember that you’re building a relationship and that at the event you have a limited amount of time and that many others will also contact the person you want to talk to. So how can you reach before the event? Don’t just submit to the VCs website or email, what you need is an intro. “Ideally you’ll get intros from one of the partners and from a successful portfolio company”. In fact, intros are kind of a “natural selection mechanism for VCs to see how resourceful the entrepreneur is. At the end of the day if you don’t bother to find 2 intros you’re not that serious about getting that investment from that particular VC.
3. Engage on Twitter conversations
Twitter is a powerful networking tool and you should use it as such. Follow the investor on Twitter and check their interests and what they’re passionate about. Just “don’t go for the shotgun approach that is not personalized” and engage in conversations. For example “if you’re a travel startup engage in a conversation about traveling because that’s what you know and the VC will take notice”. So go ahead and give Twitter some credit. We’re tweeting about the Lisbon Investment Summit already through the hashtag #LIS15 so feel free to reach some of the speakers and talk to them about the conference.
4. At the event – be confident but not too aggressive
What people sometimes forget is that investors are just like everybody else. They have their own interests and passions so what you need to do is build a relationship. However, it is a common mistake amongst entrepreneurs to just go for the elevator pitch and sometimes they’re too aggressive, which makes the investor skeptical. “If you’re too aggressive and hectic with your pitch you’ll get very critical comments”. Instead, you should “engage in a conversation about something that you have in common”. The investor will most likely remember you if you two had an interesting conversation other than just a regular pitch. The truth is, you have to be “confident but respectful and think that there’s a normal person on the other side”.
5. Follow up after the event – send regular updates
At #LIS15, you’ll most likely meet with international investors and even if they’re interested in your progress it’s not like they can meet with you in Lisbon often. So Felix thinks that it’s crucial for you to follow up on the contacts you made and send them regular updates. “I personally really enjoy it when companies send me their updates. There’s a startup I know that they send me a weekly newsletter with their updates that’s targeted to potential investors – what’s the progress, milestones, new hires, etc. I really like that! I don’t have to read it, but it’s cool because I see that this company is making progress.”
So there you go. We hope these tips were useful and we hope you get to put them into practice at #LIS15 – Lisbon Investment Summit next week (June 4-5). See you there!
P.S.: Don’t forget to get your tickets here! We’re almost sold out…
Ship and the Crew are going to be present at #LIS15. Make sure you reach out to us on Twitter and snatch us at the event.