Quick rules for preparing your references:

  1. Always ask a reference, before listing them.
  2. Send a reminder email highlighting key points. ‘Notes for inspiration, just in case’.
  3. 3. Check in, to see if they’ve done the reference & how it went; so you can take action if needed.


1: Always ask the person if they’re willing to be a reference before you list them. If you do it afterwards you risk them already Having learned that you listed them before you asked and that looks absolutely terrible.

2: Make sure the reference is well prepared. To help send them an email which highlights your major wins from when you were working with them. To avoid it looking like you’re telling them exactly what to say you can label these highlights as “Notes for inspiration just in case you need them”

3: After a reasonable period of time check in to see if the reference is actually happened and how it went. This gives you the chance to respond if needed. For example, if the reference went badly you can immediately suggest new references and try to recover.

Pre-seed Investor. Email: ash@sterlingroad.com. B2B, US only. I work with founders for 3 months before investing. More info: http://SterlingRoad.com/process