Our Unofficial Guide to Fundraising

by: | Mar 12, 2015

Any day now, we’ll be announcing our first startup investments via the Innovation Fund. For some companies, the $50,000 investment is all they need at this stage but for most, this capital is the first step in a bigger fundraising round. Naturally, these entrepreneurs are turning to us for guidance on how to fundraise and who to fundraise from.

In service of the broader community of entrepreneurs, here’s a summary of the advice we usually give:

  • Be specific about you what need. I’m always surprised that many entrepreneurs do not know how much money they are raising and what for exactly. Here is one of the best fundraising guides I’ve seen from our buddies at the Unreasonable Institute. It’s a goldmine of helpful suggestions, including how to be specific. It even includes sample emails.
  • Make it easy for people to help you. Are you looking for an intro to someone? Make it easy for people (read: me) to prioritize your email out of the dozens of requests they likely have in their inbox. Send a brief forwardable note about your project and why this person might be interested. Mark Suster has a classic post on the art of the intro email.
  • Keep people updated. Update your stakeholders at least quarterly. These don’t need to be hugely formal, just consistent. I’m also a fan of more regular, informal email updates — three lines about something awesome that happened to the company or organization goes a long way. It keeps you top of mind for funders, and helps people advocate for you easily. It also means when you do need help, we’re armed with the background we need to be most helpful, rather than having to get caught up.
  • Fit is everything. Finding the right fit is hugely important in fundraising. Do your homework. Why should a donor or investor fund you? Have they funded similar work? Or is there a gap in their portfolio that you fill perfectly? It’s certainly much easier to do research on foundation funding than individual giving, but you’d be surprised how far a little googling will get you.

We will be announcing the startups we are investing in on Monday March 23rd! Sign-up for our newsletter on the front of our website to get the news directly in your inbox.