Nivi · September 30th, 2008
“VCs are generally bombarded by requests for meetings, so a warm introduction helps an entrepreneur’s request float to the top of the list.”
Summary: The best way to get a meeting with an investor is through an introduction from someone he listens to. The best intros probably come from entrepreneurs that the investor has worked with. But the specifics of the middleman’s relationship with the investor are more important than the middleman’s day job. Finally, skip intros from (1) investors who don’t have a good reason why they’re not investing and (2) middlemen who barely know the investor.
The best way to get a meeting with an investor is through an introduction from someone he listens to. (You could cold call him but you better have a great elevator pitch and you should read How Should I Approach a VC I Don’t Know?.)
But not all introductions are created equal. Who makes the best introductions? Introducing the Hierarchy of Middlemen:
- Entrepreneurs that the investor (a) has backed and made money with, (b) wants to back, or (c) is currently backing (in that order).
- Investors he (a) has co-invested and made money with, (b) wants to co-invest with, or (c) is currently co-investing with (in that order).
- Lawyers, accountants, and sundry industry people like us.
- Someone he met at a party once.
This list is really rough.
The specifics of your middleman’s relationship with the investor are more important than this list. So figure out why the investor is going to pay attention to the introduction by asking questions like:
How do you know the investor? What did you work on together? What companies have you sent him that he has subsequently backed? What makes our company interesting enough for you to make an introduction?
Middlemen you should avoid.
You don’t want introductions from investors who don’t want to do the deal and don’t have a good reason why. An introduction by a middleman who can and should invest but doesn’t want to invest is a strong negative signal. Skip this introduction.
And you don’t want intros from people the investor doesn’t really know or doesn’t listen to—that just makes you look bad. If the introduction starts with “I don’t know if you remember me,” you’re in trouble.