Having spoken with hundreds of founders winning and failing to win angel investment, there are a couple of clear trends that come up repeatedly.
Many founders want to skip right to blasting countless angel investors with emails, or they spend the majority of their time designing and re-designing their pitch deck. I’m yet to meet a founder for whom these approaches have worked.
Instead, the founders that I see successfully raising their angel rounds are organized, methodical, disciplined, and efficient with their time. They also listen more than pitch and invest greatly in building relationships.
Guess what. These are exactly the same behaviors and attitudes that make sales professionals successful. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it again until I sound like a broken record: fundraising is sales.
Below are the insights, mentioned in detail above, that will greatly improve your chances of success.
Insight 1: Make a realistic plan.
Once again, take into consideration how much you are raising, what your network looks like, how much time you can dedicate per week to nothing but fundraising, etc. and make an aggressive but realistic plan.
Do not assume that you will raise your angel round in two months if you are raising a lot of money, don’t already have a large network of angel investors, and are planning to spend a couple of hours per week on your fundraise.
If you don’t make a realistic plan, you are almost certainly setting yourself up for failure.
Insight 2: Do your research!
I get it. It’s tedious to research angel investors, but I guarantee that it’s much less tedious than pitching angels that want nothing to do with your startup or blasting countless angels that don’t even invest in your industry.
The research you do up front will save you twice as much time when you start your outreach and will greatly increase your chances of finding angel investors that will be excited about your company and willing to write a check.
Failing to do research on investors is probably the deadliest mistake that I see founders make at any stage of fundraising.
Insight 3: Track your progress and hold yourself and your team accountable.
The second most critical error that I see founders make is doing ad hoc fundraising. They send out a few emails here, go to a pitch event there, LinkedIn message a random angel there, etc. They have no goals, no way of knowing where in the process they are, and no hope of being successful (unless they have a bunch of angel investors in their back pocket).
Fundraising at any stage, whether angel or Series C, is a process. It’s like training to become an elite athlete. You have to have a solid plan, put in the work consistently, hold yourself accountable, and believe in the process. You might not see immediate results, but if you do those things, you are much more likely to get to your goal.
It’s not surprising that top sales professionals do exactly the same things. They make goals, track their progress, and hold themselves accountable knowing that if they nurture a given number of leads and have a given number of sales calls, they will meet their sales goals. Exactly the same is true for founders raising any kind of capital.
Insight 4: Don’t be discouraged, and don’t compare yourself to others.
We all know those founders that raised $1 million from their buddies based on an idea drown on the back of a napkin. If you don’t know these founders, count yourself lucky. Few of us have the kinds of networks where you can wave a magic wand and a $1 million appears. Do not fret or complain.
You might have to work harder to build your dream, but in my experience, founders that have faced the greatest adversity and have the strongest grit, build the biggest companies–not those with the fanciest country club memberships.
Onward and Upward!
As one of my earliest mentors Perla used to say, “Onward and upward!” Pump yourself up, commit to the process, and get going. Remember, entrepreneurship and fundraising are a competition –competition for investment– so play your heart out, friend!
About the Author: Sergio is Managing Partner at Beta Boom, a pre-seed and seed fund investing in startups building the future for women, ethnic minorities, immigrants, and rural populations. His personal mission is to level the playing field for underestimated founders and empower them to build huge, impactful businesses.