Last Thursday, I attended an investor panel hosted by Ben Hron from McCarter & English. The discussion brought out some great insights for entrepreneurs on what investors are looking for and how to connect with them effectively. I’m including my notes here as nugget-sized words of wisdom to help other startups.

I want to note first that Ben has been active in the startup ecosystem in Boston for many years and has organized a number of panels and events. These events have been a great value to Boston’s startup community. This event was the last in the investor roundtable series. Featured on the panel were:

Below are the 26 points of wisdom that I gleaned from the conversation.

  1. How do I meet these guys? Send link to plan or spend only 5 min on a call could work IF you know what he likes (do your homework!).
  2. How do you work with investors who “have already done that”? @mjskok says you might want to stay away. No word on whether they will bet on a tech space and invest in multiple startups with solution variations to see who will come out ahead.
  3. It’s best to tell the investor, “I really want to work with YOU because your firm is a match vs I am desperate to raise $ – @cmirabile
  4. “Ask the girl what type of guy she wants to go to prom with” – @mjskok If you’re a match, that’s great! If not, consider if your story can be a match, or if it’s a stretch.
  5. Probably need to be selling off 10%-30% of the company, then find the investor believers who care. – Shereen Shermak
  6. Find 1 or 2 folks who will go the extra mile. If you get a warm intro, there’s a much greater chance of connecting.
  7. Find people who know your space, know you and can introduce you.
  8. Try to find office hours to get a first meeting. There are lots of opportunities in the ecosystem for this. – Shereen Shermak
  9. Spend the time networking & connecting because it also proves you are “entrepreneurial” enough. – @cmirabile
  10. Top things to do when networking: tell what you do, tell where you’re stuck, ask for advice on what to do & who to talk to.
  11. Who told people to hard pitch in the handshake? Take your time but don’t waste it and leave a memorable impression. – Shereen Shermak
  12. Ask VC or Angel if they want to be included in a quarterly newsletter update – Shereen Shermak
  13. Investors want to hear/see you’re doing what you say you will. If you modify your course, they want to know why. – @mjskok
  14. Investors would have no jobs if not for entrepreneurs. – @mjskok – @cmirabile
  15. If they tell you to come back when you have $10M in revenue, they are not interested. – @cmirabile – @mjskok
  16. As investors, how do you search for investments? – @mirabile wants to have a @LaunchpadVG bucket under each startup spout, so they are in tune with everything happening.
  17. If you can give the VC the shakes with your story, they will stalk you. – Shereen Shermak – @cmirabile – @mjskok
  18. Not fans of convertible debt. If you’re raising under 1M & spending 25K on legal, this is no good.
  19. 2 biggest concerns by entrepreneurs: losing control and valuation. – @mjskok says focus should be on how to own the space together.
  20. Only 1 thing that matters is that founders are focused completely on the mission. – @mjskok – @cmirabile
  21. Women need to focus more on retaining control because they are more likely to be fired by VCs. – Shereen Shermak
  22. You can send me 80 page biz plan but I won’t read it. A concise email is hard to craft. An executive summary is great, but a pitch deck is best because it caters to visual learners and gets the point across. – @cmirabile
  23. Have 2 pitch decks: 1 with great visuals that you talk to, and 1 with more words, so it will stand alone.– @cmirabile (Maybe a narrated deck using @30hands to show your personality while you explain your slides)
  24. Boston is super awesome for startups and we have less “hype” here. – @cmirabile We are now paying careful attention to regulatory pieces too.
  25. Boston community is very collaborative & less competitive than some others. – @mjskok @cmirabile Shereen Shermak
  26. If an angel has not written a check in the past 6-12 months, they are probably not active enough for you. – Shereen Shermak

That my blast of wisdom from the roundtable. There’s a lot of great stuff in there. Good luck with your connections to investors and your investing!

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