All startups need to secure funding in their development's early stages and years, and it comes as no surprise to learn it is one of the top priorities for founders. To secure funding, you need to get in front of investors and industry professionals for the opportunity to present your startup idea in front of key people in your industry. Sounds pretty simple right?
Finding investors and networking is actually one of the most challenging aspects of growing a startup and can take up more than half your time. You need to start networking early and often to get in front of the right people. One of the founders' biggest questions when securing meetings is, 'what is the best and most effective way to get a meeting with investors?' The most common answer is working with your network to secure a warm introduction with your ideal investors.
Warm intros are a great way to get in with venture capital firms and angel investors. It can start your relationship off on a great foot and increase your odds of success and securing funding. So what exactly is a warm intro, and how do you secure one? Read on to learn more about best landing a warm intro with an investor and securing that funding essential to your startup growth.
What is a Warm Introduction?
A warm introduction is a common and preferred way to be introduced to a potential investor. It's similar to receiving an endorsement or receiving a referral from someone you are already connected with to investors who may provide value to your startup. It's the opposite of a cold call, where you are communicating with someone you know to connect you with an investor you'd like to meet with.
Many business professionals prefer working with someone they know or are referred to them by someone they know. It's a less intrusive way to quickly establish rapport and generate a genuine conversation that can land you an in-person meeting to pitch your idea.
Getting a warm introduction requires you to be upfront and ask. In the early stages of a startup, you cannot afford to be shy. Asking for a warm introduction is essential and starts with your network and the existing relationships you have already begun to build.
Who Should You Ask For a Warm Intro?
It's important to source a warm intro from the right people. You want to avoid reconnecting with past investors who have already turned down the opportunity to invest in your startup. You also want to avoid reaching out to founders that have a poor track record with investors' money.
The people you want to focus on connecting with and networking with are our founders, who have successfully raised capital from investors that led to successful partnerships. Investors likely will trust their recommendations or referrals because they have shown success.
You can work with your current investors, mentors or advisors, people you know in person, or former colleagues that may have worked with your previously. The people you want to receive referrals from the most are those with a successful background who are knowledgeable in your industry.
How to Get Warm Intros to Investors and Nurture the Relationship
Securing warm intros to investors starts with your network. Here are the steps you need to focus on to ensure you can land a warm introduction and set a great precedent for the relationship with investors or business partners.
Start With Your Network
– Warm intros require careful planning, and the best place to start is within your current network. You don't want to send mass cold emails to people you've connected with on LinkedIn. You want to evaluate your current network and see who's connected to who and how they might be able to provide funding for your startup.
Create a List of Target Investors
– You likely have people in mind you want to work with. If you do not, you can research investors who may be a good fit for the investing round you are currently in. Once you have a list, use your LinkedIn to check their profile and see if you have any mutual connections. Track your investor list through your entire networking process throughout your startup's early development.
Soft Pitch Your Startup
– When you speak to your current connection, you don't want to detail your reasons by making a sales pitch. You want to treat the interaction with your current contacts as a conversation rather than a presentation. It needs to be genuine to show them the value of your startup so they can feel comfortable linking you with their connection.
– LinkedIn is a powerful platform to connect with people within your industry, such as investors, business partners, and potential customers. You can research your current connections to see if they have any connections to people you may be interested in meeting with. You can also reverse search by looking at specific investors' LinkedIn pages to see if they happen to be connected to someone you know.
Never Make Assumptions
– Even though you may be associated with someone with a connection to someone you would like to meet to pitch your startup, it does not mean they will be able to provide you with a warm intro. You can ask and be gracious for them lending their ear but never assume they will initiate a warm intro.
Do Not Circumvent and Name Drop
– You never want to skip over reaching out to your connection to go directly to the investor. Introducing yourself and name-dropping your contact may not go as well as you would hope and may ruin the opportunity to discuss your startup. It may even damage the relationship with the contact you circumvented to reach the investor.
Draft High-Quality Requests
– Even though you often reach out to someone you know well and have developed a strong relationship with, it doesn't mean it's not vital to prepare a professional request. Draft up the reason for contacting them and include why you want you should be given the warm intro to the specific investor and how you think the startup can benefit them. Customize the message to ensure authenticity, and the person will appreciate the professionalism. Some points to include in your email to your contacts include:
- Start with the reason for the email that you're looking to raise capital.
- Ask for the introduction to the specific investor and include their names and LinkedIn Links.
- Include why you think the investor would be interested in hearing about your startup.
- Write a short introduction to your startup and include what you do, the traction, your team, and information about your funding needs.
- You can include a forwardable attachment email that your contact simply needs to send to the potential investor minimizing the amount of work on their part.
Email Warm Intro
– Most warm introductions are completed over email. Once your contact has sent the warm email intro, they will copy you on the thread with a pleasant introduction and a brief about your startup that you hope to connect with and why. From there, you can begin the follow-up response that will initiate the next steps.
Don't Forget to Follow Up
– Landing the warm intro is only the first step, and managing the interaction is crucial in developing the relationship with you and the investor. The quality and speed at which you can connect can help show how serious you are about your startup and connecting with each person. If the warm introduction is through email, respond as soon as possible and include your current contact in the reply so they know you followed up.
Always Thank Your Referrer
– The person who refers you to connections through warm introductions is taking a risk on their reputation, and they're doing you kindness without profit. Your success in securing the funds rides on the ability to connect you with your target investor. Always write a thank you immediately and show gratitude, no matter the outcome.
Use Networking Platforms
– Getting warm intros can be a challenge if you don't know many people who can connect with you. You can build your network from scratch by using networking platforms that can match you with other founders, investors, and more. Get to know them and build relationships that can help you provide a support system along with the potential for future networking opportunities.
Warm intros begin with a strong network you've built as you grow your startup. It's crucial for startup founders to network as much as possible to foster strong connections and deepen relationships with other founders, business partners, and investors. The more connections you have, the better you'll be able to secure a warm intro to your target investors and easily get the next round of funding.
Finding investors for your startup can be time-consuming and stressful. When you need the capital to get your startup off the ground, Angel Match can match you with over 90,000 angel investors and venture capitalists in one place. Learn more about how Angel Match works here.