Shaking the Tree: Experimenting with Outreach Methods to Get Investor Meetings

17 Jul

By Lucy Parkinson, Research Manager, LSN

lucy 10*10Scientists pursue many different approaches when doing lab research. However, when it comes to fundraising, they often repeat the same actions and expect different outcomes—which has been said to be the definition of insanity.

If your process for connecting with investors isn’t working, don’t continue to do what you’ve been doing. Try something different. At LSN, we use an approach we call “shaking the tree.” We find that by continuing to approach investors using various tactics, some fruit usually falls.

Some investors are easy to connect with; perhaps we happen to catch them at the right time, or the first thing we say happens to catch their interest. But success on a first attempt is more a matter of luck; gathering LSN’s comprehensive intelligence on life science investors requires a systematic approach.

Like most people, each investor has a preferred contact method. You probably know someone who never picks up the phone but always responds to your emails. Does the investor you’re trying to contact check their voicemail regularly? You can’t know until you leave them a message. Many professionals don’t make their email address or phone number available but have a public profile on LinkedIn. Use the service to send them a short introductory message; for some people, social media platforms are a better means of engagement than email. Some investment firms have a web form on their website; this seemingly impersonal means of contact may be the first source of incoming deal flow that the investor looks at every day. People communicate differently; you must determine the best way to connect if you want to reach them.

When you’re trying to get someone’s attention, you’re more likely to get it if you make the process as easy as possible for the other person. We’ve previously discussed how to craft a highly relevant, eye-catching pitch email(keep it brief and clear; don’t include irrelevant information) and a few methods for following up on your email target list (make it easy for the investor to respond). If an initial message that describes your opportunity in a few paragraphs doesn’t elicit a response, send something short and direct to follow up. Ask simple questions: Are you investing in life science right now? Is this opportunity of interest? Can we talk for 10 minutes? Don’t make connecting with you a chore. Be specific enough to make a response the easiest option; say what you want to discuss and suggest a time frame for the meeting. ( Similarly, your marketing materials should be streamlined. A PowerPoint deck that is more than 12 slides suggests an unfocused presentation and deters investors from reviewing it.)

Above all, be sure to make your relevance immediately obvious. Don’t be afraid to seem pushy; high-quality deal flow is the lifeblood of private investment firms. But you need to be clear about how much of the investor’s time you want and why you want it. Perhaps you relate to the investor’s mandate in a specific way, such as being located in a particular region or having a new approach to a field of medicine that the investor previously funded. If there’s a gatekeeper such as an executive assistant who filters all incoming phone calls and emails and controls the investor’s calendar, proving your relevance is doubly important but also easier; you can explain why you are trying to contact the investor, learn when he or she is most likely to take a call, and ask to schedule a meeting.

Although you may have to try many approaches, every shake of the tree will make more fruit fall; creativity and perseverance can get you in front of many investors, and that’s what it’s going to take to close your next round of funding.

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