Three Essential Tips for Winning Over Investors at SOCAP 2018 and Beyond
Catalyst Fund’s “How to SOCAP” for Entrepreneurs #3
Connecting with the right investors is one of the most important jobs you have as an entrepreneur, founder, or CEO at a startup. But as much as you’d like to find a strong match, investors need to be convinced that you’ve done your homework as a sign that you’re serious about partnering. Below we share three essential tips for winning over investors.
“SOCAP is one of the few places where there are more investors than entrepreneurs — find the ones that are aligned (with your company’s profile) and make sure you get time with them!” — Alex Evangelides from FINCA International
In our preparations for attending SOCAP 2018 this week and bringing our Catalyst Fund companies to our annual Global Innovators Meetup, co-located with SOCAP, we surveyed our Investor Advisory Committee and 39-member Circle of Investors about investor etiquette and how entrepreneurs should approach investors at SOCAP and beyond. Here are the best practices that our investors shared with us.
1. Know Your Audience
Investors are busy. Spend the time to put together a key list of investors and do your best to meet their criteria by stage, sector, geography, and so on. Investors are working on a strategy that determines the kind of company they invest in. Show them you’ve done your due diligence — the stronger the match between you and your investor targets, the more likely you are able to stand out in the noise. For SOCAP, this means downloading and combing through the attendee list, and tapping your network – such as your advisors – for warm introductions in advance of the event.
“Have your 30-second pitch ready, organize meetings beforehand but leave free time for serendipitous meetings.” – Vikas Raj, Managing Director, Accion Venture Lab
When you do reach out to them, propose short one-on-one meetings and have a very clear one-pager ready to share that speaks to the investment criteria. For impromptu meetings, have your 30-second pitch ready in addition to the one-pager. As a conference attendee, create visibility for yourself by being involved in panels, pitch events, and demo days.
2. Connect on a Personal Level
Investors are people too. Use in-person moments to build relationships, and not just ask for checks. Showing you’re a good listener, respectful of other entrepreneurs, and are punctual in getting to meetings; these aren’t just professional behaviors, they’re reflections of who you are.
In terms of outreach, investors prefer to be contacted by email, via a warm introduction, and in person. While at SOCAP, they tend to prefer to meet in the late mornings or early afternoons. A tactic to increase investor face-time and for getting introduced to other investors at SOCAP includes camping out at Goody’s and Greens. The benches outside the SOCAP venue are also great for investor-spotting. By the time of the evening networking events and happy hours roll around, investors might not want to talk purely business, so be sure to use these moments to build rapport and follow up afterward.
3. Get the Conversation Started
Investors attend SOCAP to build their network and connect with the industry. You should do the same. This event is a forum for you to find and engage investors. But it is the start of an ongoing conversation. The goal should be to build relationships that may bear fruit long after the event is over. You probably won’t have closed deals at the end of three days, but you will have met a lot of interesting people, created connections for yourself and others, and have better situated yourself in the investor landscape. Events like SOCAP are intense and non-stop, but be sure to do your post-event homework and follow up with the contacts you’ve made and build on your groundwork. It’s now up to you to send your solid investor contacts an email to find more time to talk.