The old saying, it takes money to make money, is especially true when it comes to technology startups. But I’d follow that up with a saying of my own: Taking money is a pain in the butt. Fundraising is simply tedious. It takes forever and shifts your focus away from the priority of growing your business.
The good news is that we live in an era with an app for every pain. I’ve raised millions in funding over the past couple of years, and through this journey I have discovered a number of apps that have helped me to stay sane and be more efficient.
Here are the three tools I have used to raise more money on better terms:
1. Yesware. Whatever channels you use to build investment leads (LinkedIn, AngelList, conferences), you’ll eventually probably send out a pitch via email.
And everyone is inundated with email, investors especially. That’s why it’s so important to know whether your emails are opened and read. So I have used the Yesware gmail add-on to track just that.
2. Pipedrive. Sure, there are more venture capitalists and angel investors in this world than you could possibly pitch. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying to reach as many as you can.
And you? It may take countless conversations with all kinds of people before you score funding for your startup.
You absolutely need a customer-relationship management software to manage all the stages of those conversations and interactions. The simple user interface and drag-and-drop functionality of Pipedrive's software makes it a good choice for me.
I set up eight stages for tracking the progress of my interactions in Pipedrive: Idea, Intro, Call, Meeting, Interest, Negotiations, Due Diligence and Cash Received.
By the end of the first week, I had nearly 100 seed investors (focusing on my area of software as a service) lined up in the Idea category. After a few weeks of intros and pitches, 30 parties wound up being in the Interest category, meaning they had expressed interest. I eventually secured funds from nine of them.
Related: The Top 100 Venture Capital Firms
3. PandaDoc. When venture capitalists ask to see your presentation (this has been the case 70 percent of the time for me after gaining an in introduction), be sure to have a game plan.
Your presentations must be really good and really short. The first set of slides you send out to a venture capitalist firm should have a maximum of 15 slides.
So how do you decide which slides to cut?
The PandaDoc platform lets people simplify the process of sharing documents online or on mobile devices. The built-in document-analytics tool will show you who looked at which page -- or, in this case, slide -- when and for how long.
The first presentation I started sending to investors had more than 40 slides. I noticed that the venture capitalists were skipping about 25 of them so I decided to cut. The neglected slides were, in fact, detracting from the deck’s impact.
Oh, and let’s not forget about the “who” factor. Because you can see who opens your presentation, you can tell with whom to follow up and gauge how promising a lead is. If you notice, for example, that a deck is forwarded to the managing partner of a fund, work harder on closing the deal!
Here's the best part: the making-it-easier-next-time part. The Yesware, Pipedrive and PandaDoc tools that will help you raise your first round are three perfect ways to stay intentionally in touch with the many contacts you’ve made along the way. Your emails and documents -- and the resulting relationships -- will only become more nuanced from here on out. So track them religiously and learn from them constantly.
So grow like crazy, both you and your startup!