How to do a Monthly Investor Update
When you’re out raising capital for your startup you need to build a habit of regularly updating (potential) investors and customers. You likely left the investor intrigued after the meeting, but there is no sense of urgency on their part to take action. The more you de-risk the startup, the better it is for the investor. That means setting and hitting milestones.
This post is for PRE-REVENUE, PRE-INVESTOR communications. After you have investors, revenue and data, you can use a different format that includes Balance Sheet and Income Statement.
If you give investors time to wait, they will wait. If you stay in touch regularly, it’s very easy to book the next meeting. If you go dark, I guarantee you that they won’t be thinking about you!
I want to outline the basic mechanics and tools here, so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel.
Let’s start with your calendar. One of the subtle messages you’re trying to communicate with your list is consistency. Book a regular day and time each month to send your email. For example, the second day of each month. Block it on the calendar so you’ll have enough time allocated to get it out the door. Block time prior to that task to actually write up the content and have someone review/edit the email. Looking rushed doesn’t help your effort.
Tag all of your calendar meetings as “Investor” or “Customer” – you’ll forget as you look back six months or more and there is no reason to lose a potential contact.
It’s worth noting here, if you don’t have enough information to update potential investors or customers on a monthly basis, you’re probably not putting enough time into your customer validation process. If you’re not making general progress fast enough it’s likely time to rethink the idea. You should be able to build momentum over a six-month time frame.
Time blocking on your calendar is critical. If you don’t block enough time to complete the task, the date will slip and pretty soon you’ll miss a month, then two…
Start building your list in a Google Sheet – you can get more complex with a free CRM like Hubspot later.
- Prospects to meet – building out a list of target investors and customers is a prospecting process. Prospecting takes time and is a topic I’ll write another post about in the future.
- Meeting followups – at the end of each meeting, ask each prospect or investor if they would like to get your Monthly Update? If you do the update randomly or every few months, people will forget about you. If you do it every two weeks and it’s tied to your “sprint” schedule, you should only do that in the run-up to your launch and customer onboarding. It will be too frequent otherwise and people will opt off your list and update.
The headers on your GSheet should include (in no particular order):
- First Name (so you can use the FNAME feature on tools below)
- Last Name
- Type: create a picklist for:
- Priority: A, B, C or Dead
- LinkedIn profile link
- Referred from
- First contact date
- Last contact date
You will be asking for referrals and you will want to track who introduced you. Don’t rely on memory. Use it as a chance to thank people after the subsequent meeting. If they are both investors, they are likely to talk. Just a quick note that says, “Dave, I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for the introduction to Joe. We had a great meeting and I appreciate you extending your network to me!”
Also, you’ll want to master the forwardable email by Alex Iskold.
Your goal in six months should be 25 investor prospects and >100 customer prospects.
I use MailChimp, at the stage of your company it should be free for a while. Their tools are easy to use for newsletter format. It’s easy to import and update your list as well as creating forms to capture emails. There are a lot of good email service providers (ESPs) but it’s an easy and free place to start.
When you input the list, you’ll be asked if the contact has opted in – you don’t need to use double opt-in at this point.
You’ll create a list called “Investor Prospects” and a list called “Customer Prospects.” Your basic email will go to both lists with a slightly different call to action (CTA) based on the specific list. For example, you may ask the potential customers if they have other associates (B2B) or friends (B2C) that they would introduce to your company.
I’d suggest a simple and regular format – this format covers 80% for both potential customers and investors.
- This is what we shipped/learned this month. Hopefully, you’re regularly updating the product and you can provide product updates. At very least you should be building a list of potential customers through the customer validation process. Those customer interviews will inform your decisions on your product roadmap.
- This is what we are going to do next month. Given what you’ve learned, what you’ve shipped and the customer feedback, what are you planning on doing this month? Have a plan that you can articulate, because next month you will be updating them on your progress against that plan.
- This is where we can use your help. Most people will read this section and not respond – however, the people who do respond will be very useful. You’re using this process to build a relationship through a “light lift.”
We like investing in founders who have and hit milestones! If you don’t have a milestone or you never hit a milestone, that’s a problem! The worst update is the founder who is waiting for permission to succeed. Remember your need for capital doesn’t map to your ability to raise capital. Go make regular monthly progress.