By Alex Menn
There are plenty of events where startup founders can pitch their projects. However, if you’re fundraising for the first time, the competition is so high that the likelihood of getting investments is minimal.
At our fund, we receive around 10,000 pitches a year; at every event we attend, there are at least 30 startups approaching us, and most of your competitors are very well-prepared.
What you can do is to go to places not crowded by fellow startuppers; no competition. Be ready to invest between $10,000 and $15,000 in your efforts. With this money, you should get into places with the right audience.
Find the events or communities where no one is pitching
Scout for events where there are people who can become your investors, but no competition from other founders — events like a real estate owners summit, a yacht show in Monte Carlo, film festivals or even the U.S. Open finals.
Almost everyone there is your target audience. Consider events that last two to three days for enough time to build rapport with the attendees.
Know your prospects as if they were close relatives
Study the participants and focus on those likely to be interested in what you are doing. Remember, it is about building a human connection.
Before approaching any prospects, gather any available information on who they are as an individual.
For this, scout not only media, but also records of public activities like sports, arts, charity, memberships and volunteering. When finding potential matches, however, you must respect their privacy.
Create FOMO around your industry
Steer the first conversation to those topics that interest your conversation partner, as this will create an agreeable impression.
The next day, they’ll already be friendly because of that first interaction. In the second meeting, you can talk a bit about business.
Don’t pitch your company but create a FOMO about your industry.
Enthusiasm is contagious, so share your passion by highlighting success stories, groundbreaking technologies, and creating a sense of excitement about the future.
You can prepare beforehand by sharing some insider information with popular media and then citing it.
Mention your business — but no money talk
If everything goes well, there will be a third meeting, and finally you can talk about your business.
However, without asking for money.
Allocate to your business not more than 10 minutes; everything else involves conversations on whatever topic that is interesting to both parties.
Continue creating FOMO. If you do your work well here, you will receive an official invitation into the person’s online life.
Connect online and always stay in touch
For many people in the strata of the person that you just met, being offline is touted as the new luxury item.
If you were to write an email without knowing them, the probability of getting a response would be less than 1%. Here, you are invited into their online life, and they will welcome receiving messages from you.
Stay in touch — do not let this connection vanish.
What do you get at the end?
There are various scenarios that can unfold after an offline connection.
First, once the person learns more about your project they may inquire if you need funding. Second, you will get access to their network. A direct introduction from such a person significantly enhances your fundraising prospects.
It will also likely increase the quality of the investors that you get, because here, they are investing in you as a person and not only in an idea that they hear about 100 times in one day.
Alex Menn is a partner at Begin Capital, a $62 million London-based venture capital fund backing founders from low-maturity markets. With more than 12 years of experience in European private equities, he has been involved as an investor in more than 50 deals worth $3.5 billion.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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