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Sometimes startups are too focused on themselves. So focused that they approach their investors only in time of need. They don’t understand investors want to feel part of the team. If a person made an effort and invested in your startup, she wants to know what is going on. This doesn’t mean you have to update your investors every day, but it definitely means that, when there’s something to celebrate, you need to think how to involve them in what has happened. Celebrate big moments with them and keep them updated about what you do: this is the most important thing if you want to have a really advantageous relationship with them who funded your startup.
The same thing goes for your advisors and mentors. Lots of startups grow up through an acceleration program during which they are followed by a few advisors or mentors. Keep them in touch even when they no longer are your advisors or mentors. You can’t image what an interesting email could lead to.
The best CEOs are used to write an email or give a call to their investors every once in a while, treating them as a part of the family. You don’t know how much nice is for an investor to get an email that says “Today’s we did our first sale”, or “Today we celebrate one year of operation: here are our results“, or “We have a new employee, here’s his cv, we wanted you to know“.
Founders could object: “We put it on our website”. Nevermind. Make the investors feel part of the team and you will see that when you will come to them with a problem they will be much more attentive to your issues.
The second most important thing to get the most out of your investors is that you need to always have in mind in which fields your investors operate, and not to be shy to give a phone call and ask for an advice. There are no men or women who would tell to the startups they invested money in “I’m sorry, I don’t have time“.
One of the main issues of a startup is to focus. There are so many opportunities to choose from. Founders are usually young and it’s very hard to take the right decision. Fortunately, they have investors who have experience. Call them for an advice. In the 99 percent of the cases, you’ll solve the problem by yourself, by answering the questions they will ask you and discussing with them about your answers. Describe the situation, ask what should you do. There’s no good or bad moment to reach your investors: sometimes there’s a strategic dilemma, sometimes it is a personal dilemma, such as “Should I hire more people on r&d or market?“, or “Should I focus on scaling the market or my own local market?“. Go for them in any case! They will lead you to find the solution.
I can’t tell you how to approach investors. What I can tell you is that they are your first allies. It is fundamental to speak with them, to connect with them, to keep a one-to-one dialogue. A dialogue is very different from a periodic meeting! Meeting is always better than a call, but often investors are very busy and maybe they live in another city. Try to meet them at least once every three month. But keep them in the loop. There are CEOs that I talk with every 2-3 weeks, others less. You have to find the right time. Avoid social networks. Even those professional like LinkedIn: keep social private or use them to get in touch with your users or clients. To keep in touch is a personal thing. Write them, make a phone call. This works, socials don’t.
Not every investor is the same. You need to feel the wrist. You have to look carefully to the answers you get to your emails. You have to manage your investors as you do with your friends. You need to understand when it is the right time to ask something to one of them or another and when it is the right time to solve the problem by yourself. But if you keep them in the loop, you’ll have this knowing inside you.