Locating investors is not the hard part of getting funds for your startup or small business. In fact, the easiest part is getting a list of contacts. The hard part comes when you try to contact each of them and pitch your idea.
An investor never ever invests in the idea. They invest in the deal. If you have a million dollar idea but no experience to get it on track, investors will back off. They invest is you as a person.
However, just as it takes a quality idea and pitch to find success, it also requires a quality investor – one who works in the same field as the company, one who is able to shed wisdom throughout the development of the company, one who can come to a reasonable financial agreement that suits all parties involved.
Well if you are getting yourself in questions like “Should I be looking for investors for my business”, the answer is yes. Without funds, you cannot scale up. Bootstrapping is cool and sounds like a charm but it is hard as hell. And bootstrapping is slow.
You cannot imagine Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg bootstrapping Google and Facebook respectively. Or just imagine, what Google, Facebook, Microsoft or Snapchat would look like if they were bootstrapped.
Business loans can help but I am pretty sure no bank will give you a loan if you currently don’t churn a revenue.
So if you’re looking to start raising for your company, consider these five ways to find angel investors and venture capitalists.
1. LinkedIn is the cash reserve for startup founders
Well, for your curious mind, let me tell you that LinkedIn has more than 467 million users i.e 46.7 crores users. And that too of professionals including top-level executives, investors, founders, young professionals and more.
What could be a better place to find an investor than a professional network which attracts 2 new signups every second.
But how to find investors for business in India?
First of all, you need to build a strong profile on LinkedIn. A decent picture, details about your product or service & your past work experiences will do the job.
Before sending connection requests to investors, you should focus on building connections with people in your industry. That will help you to find investors easily. Moreover, you can ask them to introduce you to some investor in their connection.
Editors, journalists, mentors, accelerator program founders and motivational speakers should be in your contact list (more than 75 percent). These people are influencers and generally, have connections with some hefty investors.
The next step is to build contacts with investors. Try to search the word “Investors”, “Angel Investor”, “Venture Capitalist” or similar in the LinkedIn Search bar.
You can also filter people based on various criteria like Location and Industry as well as Job Title if you are a premium LinkedIn user. I recommend upgrading to LinkedIn premium plan because it’s worth the money.
Bonus Tip – You can use LinkedIn Ads to shoot messages to the investor’s inbox. However, the message you promote should be crystal clear and to the point. You should introduce yourself in no more than 100 words and pitch your startup in no more than 100 words.
Altogether, the message should hardly contain 300 words. The more you write, the less are the chances they will read it. You can create an audience targeting people with job title “Investor”, “Angel Investor” or “Venture Capitalist” with company size of more than 10 people.
2. Swilling online Investor Networks
So how will they help me find angel investors for free?
The most time-consuming part in the process of getting funds for your business is finding the leads of investors with their contact info to shoot them a pitch.
And these networks curate the leads for you. There are various premium plans associated with the above networks that can make your life easy. However, if you are running out of cash, you can always try the free version as the free plans are way too power-packed.
Gust provides a single common application for hundreds of angel groups across the world. The Gust Company Profile guides you through the process of honing your application and connecting with the right investors. Thousands of companies have used their profile to collectively raise over $1 billion through the Gust angel network.
Just create an account and start browsing for investors. You can connect to them and send them a message directly on these platforms.
AngelList and Crunchbase also help you to sort and filter investors by location, industry and amount invested. These angel investment networks also showcase the investment portfolio of the investors which can be of a real help.
3. Exploring never-ending Facebook Groups
When talking about social networks, how can one forget Facebook? The world’s largest social network attracts people from each and every sector, age and race to come online and share their experiences with the world. And investors are no way behind.
I probably bet that you are already a part of some Startup Groups on Facebook. These are gold mines if used properly. There are several tactics you can use to find investors on these angel investment, venture capital and startup groups.
Firstly, you can directly start posting in these groups. Remember, the post should not be of 5000 words. It should be of 300 words maximum (as in the case of LinkedIn) with your introduction and pitch.
You can always link to the complete project details or send it over email once someone is interested in your idea.
Secondly, you can contact the owners of these groups. These people are community heads with a strong network of investors, mentors, journalists and other people around the industry.
You can always ask them for help. But, don’t put all the work on their shoulders. Just try to ask for a little favour, like an introduction to some investor.
Thirdly, you can go the long but effective way. You start browsing through the group members and shortlisting investors, mentors and journalists yourself (or maybe a virtual assistant) and preparing an excel sheet.
Once, ready you can start approaching them one by one on Facebook or use some email finding service to find their emails online.
Finding emails from Facebook contacts is pretty hard but there are plenty of white hat techniques to do that. Google it or read this article.
4. Business Schools and Accelerator Programs
Indian universities and colleges are leaned towards startup culture to the extent they were never before. Thanks to government initiatives like Startup India and Make in India.
With the boom of the startup industry in India, the process to get investors for your startup has been sequentially simplified.
Most f the universities have some kind of entrepreneurship programmes. Whether it be the internal entrepreneurship development cell of the university or some external agency taking care of that.
Try to call the university with a strong business and entrepreneurial programme. They have a strong network of investors, successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists from their alumni or guest speakers. Ask them if the might be able to help you.
They are not giving details. What to do?
Ok. Probably it is hard to call universities in India and get details if you are not a student in the campus. There are two ways to solve this issue.
If the university offers some courses that you might be interested in or which may help you invest in yourself, give it a shot. Admit yourself to the university and take full advantage of the entrepreneurial program.
Another way may be by networking with fellow students of the university. Make an even deal with them and they can help you in getting a lot of contacts.
The heads of entrepreneurship development cells are students from final year. You can work out a deal like a guaranteed job offer for them or something else. You need to figure out that.
Startup accelerators and incubators are great ways to find investors for your startup.
Accelerator programs help to meet other founders, get real-world guidance from industry mentors and smooth out some rough edges. There are 100s of startup accelerators all around the world. Big names like YCombinator are hard to get in but worth your time and hard work.
There are several other small to big accelerators which you can find on Google.
Some accelerators offer a seed investment in return for equity, and they usually culminate in a Demo Day presentation in front of an audience of investors.
Scrape Media Publications and Google
You can always find the contact of investors by searching them on Google. If you already have a list of investors in your mind, try searching them one by one on Google. All big investors and venture capitalists have their websites up and running. I am pretty sure that you will get the contact details of at least 70 percent of your searches.
Another approach is finding the curated list of investors published by various media publications and blogs.
If you are getting irrelevant results, add double quotes to your search query and Google will give you the results using the exact query. For example, if you were searching for Venture Capitalists in India and getting inappropriate results try to search “Venture Capitalists in India”.
Once you find a relevant article, try to get the contact detail of the author of the blog post. Since he/she has written the article, he/she might have the contact details or even personal contact with one or all of the investors.
Ask them directly to help you out but don’t ask for contact details. Instead, pitch your idea in front of them and ask them to introduce you to a possible investor.
You can also try making an even deal. If you already have some list of investors curated with you, you can offer them to exchange the list with them. This approach can also be used with other fellow startup founders in your industry who is looking for startup funds. However, don’t approach your direct competitor.
We ourself have curated some lists for you:
Top 50 Venture Capitalists In India & Active and Best VC Firms in India
444 Angel Investors In The USA You Can Approach
25 Angel Investors In Hyderabad To Ask Funds For
25 Angel Investors In New Delhi You Can Ask Funds For
25 Angel Investors In Mumbai, Get Ready To Pitch
16 Angel Investors In Chennai To Approach For Your Startup
25 Angel Investors In Bangalore To Pitch In Front Of
Rarely happens a deal when someone invests in an idea. Believe me, there is nothing in this world that comes cheaper than an idea. Execution is the only game in the town. If you have at this an idea, the chances are negligible that you could secure funding.
I suggest you work more on the idea, make a Minimum Viable Product and gain some initial traction. This is like a portfolio that you will use while pitching your idea. Investors are likely more in a condition to validate your potential if you have a working product or at least a prototype.
At this stage, the chances of you landing an investor increase substantially.