When you launch a startup, as the founder, it’s your prerogative to gain the attention of the industry’s smartest, best-connected and wealthiest individuals. After all, heavy hitters can influence a company’s direction in unimaginable ways. But when you’re a young founder, new to the space, making connections and developing meaningful relationships can seem akin to finding that proverbial needle in the entrepreneurial haystack.
However, a great way to gain the attention of potential investors is to do something you probably haven’t thought of: ask them for their expert advice.
The Company You Keep
Over the past year, our company Mhelpdesk has grown from three to 30 employees and increased monthly recurring revenue by over $100K. We were able to achieve this growth, in part, by surrounding ourselves with some of the smartest in the business.
We’ve wholeheartedly embraced the saying, “You are only as smart as the people around you.” Asking for advice can be hard. In doing so you expose your company and open the hood to your internal operations, which can make you feel incredibly vulnerable. But the upside to asking genuine questions is definitely worth it.
Get An Investor’s To Notice You
1. Seek Mutual Fit
Follow key investors on their personal blogs or social channels and ask smart questions. For example, in January, a founder of one of the nation’s leading accelerators took to Twitter to encourage people to apply to their program in New York City.
At the time, we were in a stage of rapid growth where we could likely benefit from the mentorship and exposure — we had just raised our first round of capital. However, it was unclear whether or not this program would be a good mutual fit. I wondered if we were too far along with over 20 employees and Series A financing?
When in doubt: ask. So, that’s what I did. I commented on his blog with regards to my concerns. He promptly replied and introduced me to the Program’s Managing Director in NYC. From here, I continued to engage in conversation over phone and email. Fast forward, a month later we received an offer to join the program.
I don’t recommend cold tweeting or emailing every managing partner in the book. That won’t get you far. It will likely come across as a small cry of desperation. My approach worked because I wasn’t pitching him.
Instead, I was genuinely interested in whether or not this program made sense for the both of us — would it be smart to leave our growing company and relocate to NYC for a month? Turns out it was. And none of this would have occurred without asking.
2. Ask About Metrics
Asking questions about company metrics can also help to gain the attention of a VC. In our case, it’s hard to find a partner at a venture capital firm who really knows about SaaS and SaaS metrics.
There seem to be few people who really know what good SaaS metrics look like and how to measure things like magic number, CAC/LTV, churn rate and sales funnel metrics. However, these metrics are paramount; they show whether you have a unicorn or are just running a business that would fail if you decided to stop selling.
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