Written By: Kelly Bryant
For most of the Founders I meet, fundraising and asking for money is seen as a necessary evil. It involves lots of rejection, spending countless hours in Zoom meetings and diligence calls, and – ultimately – getting pulled away from building their business.
But what if there was a better way? What if I told you that the best way to raise capital didn’t actually involve asking for money? What if it was as simple as asking for advice?
Hear me out…
Many Founders unfortunately go into the process of raising capital with the wrong mindset.
Rather than demonstrate confidence and remind investors that they’re selling stock in what will be a billion-dollar-business, they worry about runway (don’t we all) and are keen to get a check in the door as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this ultimately leads to signing their name on the dotted line of the first term sheet in front of them which is often not the best offer they could’ve received. To summarize, the Founder likely came in with too strong of an ask right out the gates.
Here’s the dichotomy of fundraising: if you ask for capital, you’ll get advice and if you ask for advice, you’ll get capital.
Why is asking for advice the right approach? Three reasons.
1. It Takes the Pressure off the Investor
Most institutional investors get pitched to numerous times a day. They’re always being asked for money in some way shape or form. To hear that a Founder they’re meeting would simply like feedback on their go-to-market strategy or the way they’re thinking about the evolution of their technology allows the VC to sit back, think critically about what you’re asking and use their skill sets to help you build a better business (win-win!).
2. It Invariably Builds FOMO
If you’re seeking advice from an investor instead of capital, chances are they’ll wonder why. They’ll take note that you’ve managed cash flow well and are in a position to focus on execution rather than running out of runway. Consequently, you may find them asking questions about your next raise or your intentions with the business long-term. Investors want to deploy capital to Founders that are strategic and businesses with a strong foundation – asking for advice (vs capital) often suggests those things.
3. It’s the Start of a Lasting Relationship
There’s a small caveat here that this strategy of asking for advice works best prior to you actually kicking off your fundraising. This is because taking meetings centered around feedback allows the investor to get to know you and vice versa. It will still likely take 5-7 meetings of diligence before he or she actually writes a term sheet, but having the investor see you execute on the business will build a foundation of trust. The goal here is to expedite the process and allow you to close the round ahead of schedule – score!
I won’t tell you that this methodology will be a slam dunk for every investor you meet. Like anything in life, you still need to kiss a few frogs to find your prince. That said, you should always consider the dichotomy of fundraising when mapping out your strategy. You might just find that asking for advice is the key to hitting your funding goal…
Kerosene Ventures – Helping Great Founders Raise Capital