How To Take An Investor Intro As a Founder

And how not to.....

I’ve made many introductions to investors in the last few months, only to be disappointed by the founders I am introducing in how they act on the intro. This reminds me that being a great builder doesn’t necessarily translate over to knowing how to fundraise correctly. I am always surprised when I make an intro to an investor, that it takes the founders 48 hours to respond or that they add in a Calendly link to coordinate the next meeting, among many other mistakes.

So I wanted to write a quick guide on how to take an intro if you are lucky enough to get one.

Understand the psychology of an intro

People ask me for intros often. Some days, I don’t respond. Other times, I tell them no. Many times, I am feeling good and I ask to learn more about the idea, and I like it. In this case, I am willing to make an intro to an investor after a conversation with the founder. What happens when I do this is I am spending my social capital on you.

If I made 100 intros to one investor a week, they would tell me to stop sending them intros. So every intro needs to count, which means I only send investor’s intros when I believe the founder is worth it! For every good intro, the investor remembers. For every bad intro I make, I become more and more irrelevant to them.

So when you get me to make an investor intro for you, I am betting that you will take that intro and run through walls with it. In some capacity, I am investing in you with my social capital I have with that investor.

Also remember:

  • I easily could have ignored your request or not offered to intro

  • I remember how founders react to intros for future asks they may have

  • I am opening up an opportunity with an intro, don’t waste it.

This might sound harsh, but it’s true. And a majority of other people who actively make investor intros will feel the same. So if you get an intro, slam it out of the part and make me proud to support you, and make it easy for me to do again.

The introduction email players

Ok, so you get someone like me to make an intro for you. And the intro is made. Here are the dynamics at play here:

  1. The introducer: I know both parties and want them to meet. I have checked with both parties and both have opted into the intro. This is called a double opt in intro. It is my job to connect them over email and get out of the way.

  2. The investor: The investor already accepted the intro request, so they know it’s coming. From the moment the intro is made, they are evaluating the founders. How quickly do they respond? What do they say? Are they long winded? Concise? Does the CEO CC the cofounder? Are there power struggles?

  3. The founder (you): You finally get access to that investor you’ve wanted to meet for so long. The ball is finally in your court. But now that the ball is in your court, what do you do? Dribble? Pass? Slam Dunk from the free point line? Wait for someone else to do something?

What do you do as a founder once you get an intro to an investor?

The clock is ticking once the intro is made. The investor will be observing you. If I was you, I’d immediately respond to the intro to show them that you’re fast. Here is the ideal response in my opinion:

The above is an example email. Let’s break it down, line by line.

  1. Note, I immediately thank the introducer, and BCC them out so they are off of the thread.

  2. I go straight into what my company is

  3. I make my intentions clear. We’re not just meeting investors to meet them. We are fundraising now.

  4. I set up a call, and give them 3 time slots on different parts of the days and different days.

Always BCC the introducer

It is standard in tech to use the BCC feature in introductions. Whenever you get an intro, never keep the person who made the intro on the thread. It’s always awkward knowing they can see every back and forth between the you and the investor. This is not rude, and i’d argue it’s a negative signal to the investor if you don’t do this.

Go straight for your company

Investors have limited time and founders are trying to always take it. Do yourself a favor and get to the point. Give them the one liner and have a deck ready to refer to if they want more info. This email isn’t just to connect. You want this investor to invest. Prove that you mean business (even if it takes months to win them over). So just tell them what you’re working on.

Tell them you’re fundraising

Investors want to invest in founders that can command attention. That can get shit done. The more direct you are with your intentions, the more they’ll respect you for it and you’ll keep going up higher and higher in their rank. Also, if you tell them you’re raising now, they know that if there’s a chance that you’re a good deal, the only way to not miss out is to dive deeper and take a call. This is beginning of creating a sense of FOMO for the investor. “We’re doing X and we’re raising capital for it now. Do you want to talk?”

Oh, and if you’re telling them you’re fundraising, actually fundraise. More on this in another post.

Give them time slots in different parts of the day

You want to make it easy for them to glance at their calendar to pick a time to meet with you. Make it too easy to pass. So, give them specific times, with time zones, that they can pick from. Ideally, pick some morning and some afternoon times, to maximize your chance of them being open. Do not send a Calendly. It is efficient, but it is disrespectful to many VC’s. Don’t risk it and just send the times.

Then see what they say! Follow up if you don’t hear from them, and if they don’t respond after the 3rd cadence, put them on your monthly update. Obviously you weren’t top of mind for them then.

And lastly, remember….

The investor you were introduced to may not invest. . But take this time and make a great impression, because investors invest in lines not dots. Stay in touch with them, let them know how you progress, and it may just work. With that, act like you’re going to get that money. Investors like confidence. I know, it’s complicated. Welcome to the world of being a founder :)