Seed Fundraising is extremely competitive but you can make the task much easier by managing your meetings properly; these small tactical changes can have a big influence on your efficiency and outcomes.
100 Meetings in 6 weeks
Don’t expect 3–4 meetings per week to be enough to close a $1M+ round. It may work out for the lucky few, but generally, not taking enough meetings leads to founders raising only a fraction of their goal.
Aim to take 15 meetings per week for the first 6–8 weeks of your fundraising process. Fundraising rounds often take at least 90 days to complete, so plan to be fully focused on generating new leads, taking follow-up meetings or preparing diligence materials for that entire time.
Test Fund Interest
Don’t assume you can raise from only large VCs or only Seed Funds. If you choose the wrong group, you can waste a lot of time and end up with no money raised to show for your efforts.
Take meetings with both Large VCs and Seed Funds during the early part of your process; usually ~10 from each group. If ~40% or more of a particular group get back to you within 1 business day of the meeting, there’s a good chance you’ll have success raising from that group.
Don’t take Intros from Noes
Don’t take introductions from investors who have said No to investing in your company. The referring investor, who did not invest, is a strong negative signal to others and will likely ruin the lead. The only exception is if the investor’s thesis is so far away from your company they would never invest, e.g. a growth stage healthcare VC would never invest in a seed stage cryptocurrency startup.
If you really want the introduction, get the person’s name and then find another route for a warm intro, or reach out cold. If the deciding investor tries to make the intro before they’ve made a choice, ask them to wait as “you’d like potential investors to make an independent decision first”.
3 Sets of Projections
Don’t present the same projections plan to all types of investors. If you provide projections based on a $250k fundraise, most Seed Funds and large VCs will say you’re too early for them. If you present a $4M plan to an Angel investor, many will wait for a lead investor to commit first.
Build 3 sets of projections:
1. Minimum needed to survive — usually <$750k.
2. Target raise — usually $1–2M.
3. Large raise — usually $3–5M.
Present Plan 1 to Angel investors until you have most of the round raised. Present Plan 2 to Seed Funds, and Plan 3 to large VCs.
In Person Meetings
Don’t be tempted to accept phone calls for fundraising meetings in order to get them scheduled sooner, as phone meetings have a much lower probability of reaching a second meeting.
Be patient and accept a longer wait time to schedule an in-person meeting. If the investor is based far away, or traveling for a while, you can fallback to video chat. If you’re based outside of Silicon Valley (or a different regional hub), plan to be available, in town, for at least the first 4 weeks of your raise, so most of your first meetings are in person.
Make the most of meetings during your seed fundraising, and you’re likely to find success; even in the most competitive environments.
This article is part of a series on Seed Fundraising.
1. When to Raise Money
2. How to Build a Deck
3. VCs vs. Seed Funds vs. Angels
4. How to Get a Meeting
5. How to Request an Introduction
6. How to Get Early Momentum
7. How to make a Good Pitch Great
8. The 5 Most Common Pitch Mistakes
9. Meeting Requirements
10. The Basics of Meetings
11. How to Handle an Angel Investor Meeting
12. Know these Numbers for your VC Meeting
13. 4 Investor Gotcha Questions
14. How to Follow-Up After an Investor Meeting
15. How to Close the Lead Investor
16. The 4 Stages of a VC Process
17. How to Raise a $2 Million Seed Round
18. Go from Investor YES to Cash in Hand
19. When Investors Say Yes but Mean No
20. When and When Not to Use an Investors Name
21. Stop Making These Common Fundraising Mistakes
22. How to Avoid Bad Terms that Kill Startups
23. What to do After Receiving a Term Sheet
24. Term Sheet Problems Part 1 — Money Talks
25. Term Sheet Problems Part 2 — Boardroom Blues
26. Term Sheet Problems Part 3 — Side Letters
27. 10 Traits of Successful Founders
Sterling Road invests in pre-seed B2B startups based in North America. Full process here: sterlingroad.com/process.
You can reach me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Kaego Rust for their help on this article.
Photo by Andrew Neel