My name is Ivan Kroshnyi. I am a businessman, co-owner of a group of companies, and co-founder of Flexible Investment Solution investment fund. Young teams often reach out to me asking how to find investors. In today’s article, I am going to explore different ways to find investors, the benefits, and drawbacks of each option, and offer some tips for it.
Venture and investment funds as a major stage in the company’s evolution
Investing in startups is a high-risk investment. Some investment funds are willing to take risks for the sake of big profit in the future.
Advantages of venture capital funds:
- Reputation. If the startup catches the eye of this type of fund, this can serve as an acknowledgment of its potential.
- Customers. To ensure a growing return on investment, funds can help startups find customers.
Drawbacks of venture capital funds:
- A very careful selection of projects. Fund’s reputation and profits largely depend on the projects picked. That is why it’s unlikely that a young team with a minimum ‘life span’ will receive chunky investment.
- Competition. The thorough selection causes high competition among startups.
TIPS. Venture capital funds are often reluctant to invest in young or growing businesses. That being said, this does not mean that you should abandon this option altogether. Create a solid business plan and commercial proposal and send them around. There is a good chance that they will spark an interest of the fund’s investors.
Business angels: Network of startup supporters
Business angels are a popular answer to the question: “How to find investors?” Funds and individuals specializing in investing in startups and young businesses act as business angels. For example, one of the first investors of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak’s joint venture was business angel Richard Kramlich who invested $22.5 thousand.
Advantages of business angels:
- Business angels help during the early stages of project evolution.
- Business angels may even be interested in projects overlooked by big funds because of a low turnover or short life span.
- Investing in an idea. If you don’t have a company just yet but have an idea and a vision, business angels may be willing to invest in it, as well.
- Cooperation and assistance. Angels can help invite even more investment and find customers for a startup.
Drawbacks of business angels:
- Hard to find. Finding a business angel is not an easy task even though this investment option is very popular. You can look for one on startup exchanges and special platforms.
- Impact on business. More often than not, business angels pick the projects where they can use their experience and knowledge. On the one hand, having an expert on your team is a great thing. But it’s not uncommon for the founders of the company to become dependent on the investor’s opinion without wishing to take responsibility for important decisions.
TIPS. You have to be truly passionate about the idea to spark investors’ interest. They should see that you have an interesting and promising product to offer. Make sure to carefully prepare for the presentation of your startup, and be able to have an answer ready to all possible objections or questions the potential investor may have. Check their background and reputation, and formalize all terms and conditions once you reach an agreement.
Networking: How to find a good investor
Networking is an excellent way to find an investor, build business relationships and improve your reputation.
Advantages of networking:
- Beneficial contacts. Through networking, you can meet people who will later help tackle business problems, and become partners or investors in the future.
- Available to all. There are no restrictions here. Anyone can join a specialized conference, meet new people there, become a member of a club, etc. What’s important is to have the determination and the ability to present yourself the right way.
Drawbacks of networking:
- Time. A contact map is a key networking tool. However, creating one and keeping it up to date takes time. Rockefeller kept his contact map for over 50 years and considered it one of the strongest advantages in business.
- The first impression is critical. To get a potential investor interested in your project, you must make the right self-presentation and make a powerful impression. You only have a few seconds to do that.
TIPS. Networking is how I typically find my business partners and intriguing investment projects. And I know how important it is to create a good first impression. It is about the way you look, speak and behave. Put on a brave face, focus on the subject matter, and don’t forget to leave your business card. As far as the contact card is concerned, add the key information about each person to it. It can be not only the date of their birth but also hobbies and even phobias. This information will help make business relationships stronger and even turn them into friendships.
How to find investors offline: Friends and relatives
Family, friends, and relatives are often those people young entrepreneurs turn to.
Advantages of friends and relatives acting as investors:
- Less formal approach. You can easily discuss possible investment options without having to present yourself or even having a proper business plan to show. The reputation and the fact that friends and relatives know you for a long time, and know what kind of person you are may work in your favor.
Drawbacks of having a relative or friend invest in your project
- Abuse of connections/family ties. The investor may wish to withdraw capital prematurely explaining this by family necessities and other needs. They may interfere in the company’s affairs with improvement suggestions. Your fear to ruin good relationships can easily jeopardize the entire business while saying “no” might destroy a firm friendship or close family ties.
TIPS. If you intend to partner up with close people who will act as investors, carefully weigh up the pros and cons. Approach business relationships with them the same way as you would with business partners. Make sure to sign an agreement that would govern your relationship, areas of responsibility, dividends, etc. That way you can protect yourself, your business, and your relationship.
Now you know how to find investors. Whatever you choose, you should be able to communicate your idea to a potential partner and demonstrate the prospect, originality and relevance of your product or service. Take into account all the little things and you will definitely find the investor you are looking for.
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