A Few Fundraising Lessons

Argyle closed a $1.24M Series A a few weeks ago.  You can read about it on our blog.

Though we ended up opting to raise an internal round, I spent lots of time interacting with several prospective investors.  I learned some lessons along the way, mostly by making mistakes.  Here are a few mistakes/lessons fit for public disclosure:

1.)  Don't waste time following up on unsolicited emails from Junior Associates.  It was pretty exciting to get pinged by prospective investors the first few times, but I quickly caught on to the schtick. The pitch is always the same - We've heard a lot of great things about you, we're interested in the space, let's spend some time on the phone. It only takes a couple of these phone calls to realize that these emails usually come from a 24 year-old Associates that just got out of an investment banking job, knows absolutely nothing about your business, and has next to no influence at their firm.  They're just prospecting for deals.

2.)  Don't waste time talking to funds that don't invest in early stage deals.  Everyone says that they're an early stage investor, but that's certainly not always the case.  Many mid/growth stage investors will spend time with early-stage companies just to get a close look at the business/team in hopes of building a relationship.  Make sure that you understand the fund that you're pitching - both in terms of deal stage and fund stage - otherwise you'll spin your wheels with someone that is 18 months away from even thinking about writing a check.  Most VC/PE funds detail the characteristics of a typical deal on their site...or they'll simply tell you if you just ask.

3.)  Don't discount the power of the network.  Several people helped me kickstart the fundraising process by making email introductions to prospective investors that I didn't know.  At the time, I was a bit surprised by how many of them turned into significant conversations.  Looking back, it makes a lot more sense.  The network is everything when it comes to putting a deal together.  Once I made a connection with an investor, it was very common for them to introduce me (via email) to a portfolio CEO or another propsective investor as a part of the shakedown process.  It really is a game of who knows whom and who thinks what - a game make all the more interesting because everybody knows everybody else.

These are the tip of the iceberg lessons.  I'll share the rest in my memoirs.  Or perhaps over drinks if you buy me enough beer.  :)