Venturing into an endeavor that will require millions — if not hundreds of millions — of dollars in fundraising is daunting for anyone, especially in today’s economic climate. Investors, more than ever, want a “sure bet.” While risk can never be fully mitigated, investors will be looking for business deals and people who have a clear, unfair advantage in the market and have a strong chance at security in uncertain times.
But this isn’t necessarily new news. Although things might feel more unstable than usual, investors always want reassurance that they’re making a good investment decision. The more that you’re looking to raise, the more you need to provide this sense of security to investors in order to meet your fundraising goals. Here a few key principles that can ensure more luck in conversations with investors and venture capital firms.
1. A verifiable track record of growth
Investors want to know that you and your team are equipped to bring your vision to life and provide a clear ROI, and the only way they can (try to) mitigate the risk here is to see what your team has done historically, and how that experience corresponds with what you are trying to achieve now. If this is your first time raising capital, consider starting with a lower fundraising goal, then working to prove how you can provide an ROI to the initial investors while building a relationship with them. Either way, investors will want to see a verifiable track record of what you’ve done in the past.
This can be circumvented if you’re raising for a new venture by proving the track record of individuals on your team. For example, the VC firm Partech recently closed on their third seed round of $100 million, bringing their total amount raised for three seed fund rounds to over $300 million. For large raises like this, the credentials of the team matter greatly: how each individual investor has provided ROIs in the past, their niche areas of expertise and how each of these strengths work together on the whole to make the team powerful.
2. Make sure the deal stands on its own
The most secure way to mitigate risk for investors is to be able to guarantee that, even if the entire deal goes bust, they won’t lose any money. Sure, they’re in it for a high ROI, but they’ll be far more likely to bet on you and your team even if it’s risky if they know that the worst-case scenario is they’ll get their original investment back. According to real estate development giant Rudy Medina, who has successfully been involved with the development and acquisition of over one billion dollars worth of real estate projects, this requires that “your team can repay what you borrow to the investors, with a buffer.”
“With larger investments, no personal guarantee should be required from the investor,” explains Medina. “When the deal stands on its own with no personal guarantee needed, the risk is squandered for the investors, meaning that it’ll be far easier to raise the money more quickly.”
This isn’t always financially feasible for some new startups or entrepreneurs, which is why starting small and building a track record is always a promising way to get around this pointer. But if you are able to offer a deal that stands on its own with no personal guarantees, take advantage of that standing fully.
3. Remember that people invest in people
Sometimes, the detail of the deal itself can keep the focus on the terms, the potential return on investment and what’s in it for everyone financially. It’s important to remember that investors are people who are deeply about specific causes or have an interest in specific business plans. You could have an incredible investment opportunity in blockchain, for example, but if you’re speaking with an investor who cares significantly more about solving today’s healthcare crisis, they won’t be as excited about the potential of investing. So, research the investors who you are networking with. Seek not to find the investors with the deepest pockets, but those who have aligned their past investments and businesses with what you’re building and creating.
Even if this requires you to find more investors because they’re “smaller fish,” remember that an investor who believes in what you’re doing and is excited about being a part of it is an investor who can be a cheerleader for you. Investors know other investors, and that’s how hundreds of millions of dollars are raised.
The process may be long and arduous, but it can be for everyone. The more you do up front to mitigate the risk that your investment opportunity poses, the better. Prove why you’re a (close to) sure bet as you navigate these conversations, and approach them contextually, too. Why you, why now and how do you plan to grow in today’s uncertainty? The answers to these questions are a good starting point for a long road to raising hundreds of millions.