Things could be better.
Founders face many challenges, yet relatively few chapters were devoted to global pandemics in MBA textbooks. Good times.
Fortunately, when it comes to overcoming obstacles, founders have a secret and frequently untapped resource right under their noses: their investors.
Investors should have a lot going for them. They’re usually knowledgeable, experienced, well-connected, and oftentimes, all three. And by virtue of their title of “investor”, they have every reason to invest in you with their knowledge and connections on top of their capital.
However, many founders are reluctant to ask the people who most want them to succeed, to help them succeed. There are issues of embarrassment, imposition, vulnerability, and maybe you feel you sold your investors the image of an unflappable visionary and don’t want them to see what the weak points are in the start-up armor.
might be your greatest
Get over it.
Don’t think of it as imposing, think of it as you helping them help themselves by protecting their investment.
Start asking. Ask early and often. But know what to ask and how to ask it. And above all: BE SPECIFIC.
Don’t ask if they know any salespeople in tech. Ask if they know the new VP of Sales at SalesTech. Give them a precise target company, title and a name. Contact info would be even better.
Key areas that investors may provide invaluable help:
- Intros to potential customers: Once again, be specific. Specific means you have thought through your problem and just need the investor to put the bow on it. Remember, if the connection ends up helping you, you helped your business and the investor.
- Intros to talent: Now is especially a good time to go fishing for your dream team. Unfortunately, a lot of people are out of work right now. Fortunately for you, Mr. Indispensable or Ms. PerfectFit might just be waiting on you.
- Finding leaders who can help vet your product: Feedback is good. Feedback from a wise, neutral, third-party is invaluable.
- Intros to other investors for fundraising: Your investors like your business. They probably know like-minded people who’d like your business, too.
I’m speaking from experience, both before Oceans and now. These are the things investors do for founders all the time, even before these bleak times. Our model is built around supporting founders’ critical operational and executional needs. For us, that’s table stakes. We have helped founders recently by walking them into key execs and companies who can be their early partners, introducing them to talent in a functional area that they may not be as knowledgeable in, connecting them with other VCs and investors that have led to additional funding and so much more.
Not because we’re selfish or selfless, but because we’re invested: morally, emotionally and financially. And because we want to.
So now more than ever, is the time to get the most out of your investors so you can come out of the downturn in the strongest possible position.