Transcript from our Clubhouse FUNDRAISING Q&A WITH ANGELS & VC's session on Wednesday, March 17, 2021:
Hope you're all having a good day and month honoring Women’s History Month. Yay. Here they come. Welcome gentlemen. And Kate Bush.
Gambino. I'm just going to change my profile picture.
Yeah. I'm PTRing to see who you're going to become. And Marco, for the people who are coming into the room for the first time, you'll have to share what you're doing here as soon as you come back. So welcome, welcome everyone. We're going to start off in just a couple of minutes. We're just waiting for the other mods to join us. And today, I'm excited to say that we've got David Cohen, who is an investor and founder and chairman of Techstars where I am a mentor. So he'll be with us today for an hour. And we are here every day. Noon, Pacific, 3:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. UK time until a couple of weeks until the time zones change, and then that will be 8:00 p.m. UK time. And so we will kick off here in just a second. Welcome, David.
Thanks. How's it going?
Yeah, it's going really well. Thank you. I'm actually really psyched today. First of course, because you're joining. And also because I just had this really amazing call and that call was a founder, a female founder who came to the room a couple of months ago. We've been doing the room for a while now. I don't know if you'll remember her Shawna or Marco or David, but she came to the room and just had a bunch of questions about fundraising. She had been self financing and then she did a friends and family round and she had just secured her first round of angel investment. And so she was preparing for the next stage of fundraising. So she had a lot of questions and she just sounded like a really talented founder. And so I offered for her to schedule some open office hours for her and I to do a one-to-one call, and she followed up on that.
And then once she and I had that call, I thought, "Wow, okay, she's really onto something here." She's got something called FaceTrace, which is a VR “try before you buy” application in the retail beauty sector. While she was presenting, I immediately thought of one of my business partners. One of the companies that we spun out of Prehype, a venture studio, in partnership with Coty, is a personalized beauty business. My Prehype Partner in the UK is the Founder and CEO of that new venture, Beautonomy. I scheduled a call for the three of us. We talked this morning. It was just one of those calls where you see magic happening before your eyes. He was able to give her loads of insights and validation that would otherwise be very expensive for her to acquire as an early stage founder. He was able to share his journey as a startup founder in her sector which is important because being a founder can be isolating at times and you’re always questioning everything including yourself in the early days. More than that, he asked important questions that she was prepared to answer and because they have different functional skill sets and he liked what he saw he offered to be a resource for her to further refine her plans, introduce her to potential partners, and investors. She was thrilled and grateful and so was I. I can tell this relationship is likely to be wonderfully mutually beneficial. I get a great sense of fulfillment from moments like that.
It was just one of those calls that made me feel like, "Okay, our room in Clubhouse is really worth it." Because there are days when you go down a rabbit hole and you spend a lot of time. So I'm really excited by that outcome. And so for those of you who are joining the room for the first time, you're just hearing about a call I had this morning with one of the founders that had come to our room a couple of times with questions and she's now on her way to raise her seed round and it's looking very promising.
With that, I would like to welcome you to our fundraising room, we're here everyday, Monday to Friday, noon, Pacific for one hour, 3:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 p.m. UK time. And we're here to answer any question at all relating to fundraising.
So maybe you're preparing to raise your first round, maybe you're negotiating term sheets, maybe you're just trying to figure out who's the right investor for you or whether or not fundraising is even appropriate at this stage for you. So any question is welcome here. And what we do ask is that if we pull you up to the stage, this isn't a pitch room, there are lots of great practice pitch rooms and Clubhouse, and I encourage you to use those. We are really here to help you plan and prepare to pitch to the right investors at the right time, so that you can position your startup and yourself optimally for any fundraising discussion. So when you come to the stage, please start off with “my question is.” We will introduce you by referencing the bio in your profile. If we need some more information, we will certainly ask clarifying questions.
For those of you who are new to our room, it is important for me to stress that, when I originally set up this room, it was really coming at it from the perspective of wanting to give more visibility and accessibility to female and diverse founders and investors. So what I'm excited about is how this room has evolved into a community. We have some people who join us every single day. We have some people who join us frequently. We have some people who report back and say “thank you for this resource,” or “thank you for this introduction,” or “thank you” for, pointing me in this direction and all sorts of wonderful feedback.
And so we do welcome you to come back as often as you'd like, as long as you see value in here. I also encourage you to look around the room because we want this to be a place that is in fact, a community, where everyone feels like they belong. So it won't be like some of those rooms where you get cut off. We might urge you along so that we can get to as many questions as possible but we will be as thorough as we possibly can given the constraints of time and the platform. I encourage you to look around the room because you might just find your next customer, partner, co-founder, or another investor. So look at the profiles, not just of the moderators, but others in the room to see if there are other people in here that you might want to be in relationship with, or who knows? Maybe you're just going to make a new friend. That's always nice too.
We prioritize and advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in three ways: the first is by the way that we curate the moderators in this room. So we have very diverse stages, sectors, geographies, gender, race, and a wide variety of invisible aspects of diversity. We also make sure that when we're curating the questions on the stage, that we are trying to pull a very diverse group up to the stage. And maybe most importantly, how we invest our capital. We proactively seek out female founders to fund who outperform their male counterparts and we are always looking for diverse founders. Finally, we encourage DEI by creating a sense of belonging for anyone who enters this room by being as supportive as we can, both in Clubhouse and outside of Clubhouse. So you'll hear plenty of us offer where we think we can be impactful outside to connect with us via social media and or the contact details we have in our profiles or pointing you to resources or individuals who we think can help you.
So if you haven't already taken a look at the moderators profiles, please do that now. Please tap on the bell, if you want to be notified for any future rooms that we schedule. We have some deep dive sessions that are outside of the regular fundraising room. We've got on the first Monday in April, we've got a deep dive into valuations with lots of great guest speakers, and then the daily room as well. So tap on that bell if you want to be notified when we open up further rooms. We're hosting today in Startup Club, but we've also started a new club called Angel Club. And so if you look up at the top above the title of this room, you see startup club and you see that green house. If you look in and that's to indicate the name of the club and the club that you're participating in today, if you go into my profile and you go all the way to the bottom, you'll see the clubs that I'm a member of, probably far too many, but I'm a polymath, what can I say? Or a generalist. If you look at the one that says AC, and it's got a little halo above it, that's the Angel Club. And so we will host a lot of our rooms in Angel Club. So I encourage you to follow that club so that you don't miss any kind of upcoming rooms. Without kind of setting the scene any further, because I think we've got the basic housekeeping down, in addition to being excited about this outcome we've generated for the founder of a FaceTrace, I'm also super excited that we've got David here to join us. Many of you know, I am a mentor at Techstars and I just think we were building an incredible ecosystem and had a lot of success and we can attribute so much of that back for David for founding it in the first place and for being a fearless leader along that journey. And also for now recruiting our new CEO, Maelle. Another female leader in tech, and I just think that's really inspiring as a female founder and as a female investor. So I'm really excited to have David here today. We're going to give the lion's share of the questions to David today. We're going to put you in the hot seat, David so that we can make the most of your time.
I hope you've had your coffee.
Lot's of it. Don't worry.
Okay, good. You're going to bring it, right?
Indeed. Bringing it.
Awesome. So in terms of the moderators in this room, again, just check out our profile so we don't have to go into too far in depth in terms of introductions. I am a serial entrepreneur. I've founded, been an early team member, or invested in tech startups in the US, the UK, Latin America. These tech startups span a number of sectors from social to gaming to smart mobility and clean tech. I'm an investor in those sectors where I feel I kind of can add value beyond the checks that I'm writing. Average check size is 50K. I'll go up to 100K for special teams. I invest directly, also via FJ Labs out of New York, a number of different syndicates and SPVs. I am a venture partner at Prehype, where we've got some great homegrown startups like BARK, which is going through a SPAC, ro, which recently raised a couple hundred million, and managed by Q, which was acquired by wework before the implosion, and a number of ventures with big corporates.
We’ve got our great group of regular investor moderators in the room. We've got Marco who is based in UK, Hong Kong, and China who represents a family office investing at various stages and sectors and obviously geographies. David who's with a VC out of London who invests in early stage and later stages in a number of different sectors. Shauna, who I like to refer to as the founder with an edge, because she's a former Madrona VC. And now she's all in on her EdTech startup and Piers Linney, who joins us on Tuesdays. Piers is starting a new venture of his own. He is also an investor and part of the Dragon's Den, which is the UK's version of Shark Tank. We’ve also got Hillary who is our edgy lawyer. I say that because she's done some super cool work with early stage startups, as well as in cannabis, music, and entertainment. So she and I share a lot of similar interests and experience. And Kartik, he's our $25K guy. He's an angel investor who writes checks at the $25K range. Kartik and I have been discussing a couple of opportunities that I'm excited to explore. So most people will already know who you are, David, but if there's anything else that you want to share about yourself or about Techstars, please do, and then we're going to dive into Q and A.
Thanks. This is an awesome group. And I'll keep that super short because people, like you said, can look at the profile and check out Techstars, but we're early stage, high velocity investors. Currently funding about 500 new companies a year through our accelerator model with amazing mentors like you Angel, so thanks for that. And the others listening, I'm sure, do that as well, that's what makes it all work. And the accelerator companies have done pretty well. I think there's 16 or so unicorns now, and lots of other really successful companies that have come through that system. And one of the things that I focus on at Techstars is teaching fundraising class. So this is always fun to me. I love to help people out with their goals and sort of making it work with angel investors, VCs, and funds. So excited to just hear some questions.
Great. Thank you so much, David. And just to highlight for everyone in the audience, you'll see Marco up at the top. That is not normally what he looks like. So Marco can you please share who you are today, and our little campaign in here.
Thanks, Angel. So today, I am Katherine Graham. And for those of you that don't know Katherine Graham was actually the first female chief exec of a footsie 500 company, and also the editor of The Washington Post. So what I am doing since International Women's Day, because I have a view that we shouldn't celebrate women for just one day, and the ladies, the fantastic powerful ladies on the stage here threw down the gauntlet. So for three months, from that day, I am going to change my [inaudible 00:14:48] picture to a woman that is me throughout my long career. I'm Marco, and I'm done speaking.
Thank you, Marco. I love that. It is indeed inspirational. So Marco, do we have any questions using the #AngelsGems? Just so everyone in the room knows, if you're not able to get up to the stage during the session and/or you have a disability that makes it difficult to ask questions in this forum, we do checks throughout the panel today, at Twitter. And if you ask your questions there using #AngelsGems, we will bring them to the stage. So Marco, do we have any from yesterday or did we get them all?
No, we got them all, but there is a little bit of feedback I'd love to share because we will all chuckle at this. So Amelia who is a regular listener in here said, we love the my name is, and I'm done speaking so much that we've implemented it into our morning Zoom calls with the team. And there's a team there of about 15 people.
That's funny because you know that I started doing it in our WhatsApp group as well. And just so for the benefit of the audience, I'm not always good at it myself. But I've encouraged people to use that simply because the readers for those with disabilities find it difficult to follow along who's speaking. So at the end, you've probably heard it in other rooms and maybe other rooms use it for different purposes. But we try to say our name and I'm done or I'm out, just to make it easier for those with disabilities to follow along with the conversation. So if you can use that and remember to say, it's helpful, but also just a reminder, today's session is recorded and we'll make that available to anybody who wants that recording.
I think we are probably ready for our first question. Oh, sorry, Taylor you're here, yay. So Taylor is also an entrepreneur and she is going to manage the stage for us today. So I'm really grateful to have her here today. And again, I encourage women, diverse founders, anyone who's got a question. Again, everyone here, you belong here, so please do raise your hands and we'll get to as many questions as possible. Taylor, take it away.
Okay, great. So the first speaker that we have today, or the first question is coming from Sam and well, I don't see what business he's with, he's an industrial engineer. And so Sam, if you could start by saying, my question is, and state your question, we'd appreciate that. This is Taylor and I'm done speaking.
Hello, everyone. Thank you for the opportunity. I am quality engineer as a manufacturing company. But I'm here to ask you some questions about fundraising. Actually, I have two application startup ideas. I've done a complete business plan about one of them. I've worked with a small business administration at the Southern California. I've worked with them and complete total pitch and business plan, everything. Currently, I'm looking for a sponsor. So if anyone in audience is interested, I can give more details. And also if you can list some of the major concern that all the angel investor... The investor who invested in startup businesses with no experience have, that will be really appreciated.
Okay. So I hear a couple of questions in your question, Sam. I hear if I'm at idea stage, what do I need to know as I'm developing either my MVP or my initial business to consider in terms of later fundraising? That was one of the questions that I heard. The other question that I heard is what are some of... Sorry, the second part of your question.
Yeah, it's what really angel investors or the ventures or the institutions that are interested in funding startups, what are their main concerns? What are they looking at?
What are they looking for?
Yep. Okay. Thank you, Sam. And I can anticipate your response on this one, David. But David, can you elaborate for... We get this question in here a lot, if you're a first time founder, so you don't have a track record of building up prior startups or having any exits or raising capital before and you're just starting out, what advice would you offer? And it might be helpful to break it into two different parts. So whether or not you've got your product and you're getting traction, but you're just ready to raise, what are some of the considerations that you need to consider? And what if you're still at idea stage?
Sure. Yeah, this is David. So look, I think when you're early and you don't have that track record, it's sometimes feels like maybe it's a big mystery, right? You haven't done it before and are there even investors that'll consider me? And answer is yes. There certainly are. So I think while you have that obsession with your product and the vision that you're trying to accomplish, look making progress is always really important. Some people view that as a thing they can't do until they get fundraising. And I would really encourage you to begin to make progress in any way possible. One of the things that investors love is seeing an entrepreneur who just makes progress and runs through brick walls, so to speak.
And it doesn't sort of wait and sort of talk about being an entrepreneur, but figures out how to start doing it, how to start getting the product into the world and customers using it. So I think that step one is, know what investors are going to be attracted to. And then of course, to the extent you can, beginning some team-building. Who was on the team is another thing that those early stage investors are going to look for. And then I think, the stage and the type of investor you go after is really important. One of the mistakes that I hear a lot is when people think about the "investor," what does the investor look for?
And the reality is they're people like everyone else, and they're going to have different areas of interest and different stages that they focus on. And so when you do head out to speak to investors, you want to make sure you're talking to the right investors for you. And again, if you're raising a small amount of money that might be angel investors. If you're raising a larger amount of money, that might be venture capitalists. So who you target and who you talk to and have conversations with really matters. So I'm sure there are hundreds of answers to the questions you're asking about what to do early on, but to me, I boil it down to make progress, try to attract other great people, and make sure when you go out and speak to investors that you're targeting the ones that are appropriate for how you're thinking about the world.
Thank you, David. And Sam, I would also offer up, if it's just you, then if you can find somebody else who compliments you, that you've worked with perhaps in the past, who's equally passionate about the stuff that you're looking at, the stuff that you're looking at creating, and preferably somebody that might have that track record who's got maybe experienced that offsets yours, that has what we oftentimes refer to in this room as an unfair advantage, so they've got unique insights into the problem itself. And like I said, if they've got prior startup experience, then that can help you further along your journey as David said. And also Sam, I've got an Clubhouse specific email and my profile firstname.lastname@example.org, I have a blog post I did a while back, which is kind of a step-by-step going from idea staged through to formation, through to go to market. So I'm happy to send you that link if you'll find it helpful.
And Shauna, I think I saw your mic flash on and off and Piers. Shauna, did you want to add to that?
Yeah, I just feel compelled to say something. I was actually going to mention it before Sam mentioned his question, but it kind of reinforced. I got my start eight, nine years ago, a couple of my friends Andrew, Clinton, Mark started Startup Weekend, which is actually now part of Techstars, and I just think sometimes if you are just working on your early MVP and you want to meet others and just get practice, it's a really great resource. It's in like 160 countries. Actually, more countries than Starbucks has locations in, which is kind of a neat set. It helped me immensely. I ended up becoming CMO at Startup Weekend. So I'm like a huge fan of what they've been working on. And now they're under Techstars. They're part of Techstars. So there's a lot of community built throughout. David, I know you didn't mention that, but I just felt compelled to jump in and mentioned that because I thought, Sam, it might be a great fit for you.
And I think David, there's the venture deals course that's going on right now too which we've been very actively plugging in here. And I think that's already started, but Sam, there are a lot of free online resources that can really, step you through methodology process. [inaudible 00:25:16] add something there.
Yeah. A couple of things. So one is, you mentioned you've got two ideas, so let's say two outstanding ideas. You need to think very carefully about approaching people and saying, "Here's one idea." And maybe they'd be cold, and you say, "Well, okay, hang on a minute. What about this one?" So you've got to be quite careful in terms of what you really are focused on and what you're really trying to do. I think going out two ideas can be a bit confusing sometimes, it would be to me, so that could be a personal thing. And the other thing is, is, I think has been said. David said it as well, and also Angel as well. It sounds like you really are at the beginning. So there's a huge amounts of information out there. My advice is always what you can do now, I suppose is, try and talk to entrepreneurs, they're usually willing to give you more time. They've got more experience. It's more direct. It's more meaningful rather than the advisors.
And also I think Dave was wise, don't overthink it. You're probably an engineer and you start to try and think of process and how you move these things forwards. Don't overthink it. Do what David did, is just start trying to progress or try to bring whatever this again, I wouldn't try and do two. Try and pick one perhaps and see how far I can take it. It may not work and you move to the next one. But to see how far you can take it with whatever resource that you can maybe you got, or you can beg, borrow or steal. And the last point is one of my videos Angel likes is on my [inaudible 00:26:36], YouTube at the top, a video called how to raise startup finance. And David touched on this, it's about looking in the right for the right finance at the right time.
Quite often, unless you're very, very lucky with a very big idea and you're very well connected, you can't jump out of the shower with an amazing idea and then pop up to Andreessen Horowitz. So just think about trying to put square pegs into round holes, try and match your peg to the holes that are out there. And you'll find that the path of least resistance and you'll be able to make more progress a lot faster with less pain. I'm Piers, I'm done.
Thank you, Piers. David, I think you often talk about team, team, team, market, progress, and idea very last. So I don't know if you want to elaborate on that at all. I'm Angel. I'm done.
I think Piers make some really important points. I know a lot of investors, a very large number and I don't know any that just invest in the idea. The idea is bonus points at best. And so while we always think we have this amazing idea, what the investor's thinking is yeah, so does 20 other people. And which team can I back that I think has a great idea. To your point, Angel, has an unfair advantage of some kind, that is going to win over the other. Inevitably, the other people that are going to try to do the same things. And so team, team, team progress market idea is the evaluation criteria we use to emphasize that the team is really important, and the idea is the last thing we pay attention to.
So Sam, I hope that was helpful today.
Oh, definitely. Definitely. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Basically, the challenge that I have is first of all like David mentioned is the team because I really don't have any experience in IT or technology or application development or anything. So I really need someone who can handle this and be part of the team. And the other thing is reaching to that investors. That's so hard. I really don't know where can I even reach and present the idea and the information or enthusiasm I have. So this is another challenge.
Sam, so you've got a lot of questions that I want to make sure we get to as many people as possible, but what I would encourage you to do is, this is a room full of investors, so check out our profiles and engage on social media. What Techstars often says and what we often say in this room is take a give first approach. So where you can be helpful, either sharing insights or articles or resources in a contextual way to other investors, or you can be helpful to founders in their portfolio. Anything that you can do to be a value or be a powerful servant leader is a great way to start building relationships. And what I would also say is, I'm glad you're asking the question about building relationships with investors now, because you're probably way too early to actually pitch investors, which is the perfect time to start building those relationships.
People often hear me say, don't look at investors as checks or transactions, look at them as humans. And just really think about how to build relationships with the ones who you think are most closely aligned with your values, with what you're building, with where you want to go. But really come at it from that standpoint. So social media is a great place to start. I'm always posting lists of different types of investors. Most of us do. So I would encourage you to start by doing exactly as you're doing right now. In Clubhouse, there are lots of rooms with different kinds of investors. Be careful, some rooms are dodgier than others. In social media, that's another great place. So start building up those relationships just on a very human level, be of value.
And then, when you do start to get a little momentum behind your idea, and you're really starting to build a business, then they might be able to be helpful in terms of giving feedback or direction or access to resources, which oftentimes, is a heck of a lot more helpful at that stage than capital is. So I would encourage you to do that. And in terms of networking and finding other people to have that stellar team, a lot of it is really coming up with what is the ideal profile of the team members that you need? You said you don't have a lot of tech talent. Okay, well, what kind of tech talent do you need? It depends on what you're building. And then there are a number of different factors that go into making up a great team that are well beyond functional skillset, but I think if you're looking through your LinkedIn, if you're looking through recommendations from other founders, you just constantly kind of network, and look at people that you've worked with throughout your career and see if there's anyone who can either help you find that person or they might actually be that person.
And in this room on Fridays, we do something fun. So what we do is we ask everyone to change their profiles to green, if they're looking for a co-founder. So they're sole founders looking for co-founders. And red, if they're looking for other team members, those could be advisors, mentors, staff, contractors. And some people use red and green because they're looking for both. So I encourage you to come back on Friday. You might just find a good fit, but look around the room here and look throughout Clubhouse, look through your LinkedIn contacts and just think about people you've worked with in the past. Attend events where you think those people are likely to be at and then make those connections. But you want to get to know people over a period of time before you're solidifying any of those kinds of working relationships.
So I hope that was helpful today, Sam, and we're going to move on to the next question and I encourage you to come back and I offer to send you the link to that blog post. If you email me at the link... Sorry, the email on my profile, and I'll also try to remember to post it on Twitter. So thank you for your question today, Sam.
Thank you very much. I really appreciate the time and really enjoy. And it was really helpful. Thank you very much.
You're welcome, Sam. Good luck with your journey.
Thanks Sam. So as a reset to the room very quickly, we're here talking about all things pertaining to fundraising and we have a panel of angel investors and venture capitalist. If you are finding value here with the speakers, please give the mods a follow and click the little bell, so you can be alerted the next time that they are in a room. And so now we're going to go over to Lawrence and Lawrence is a social entrepreneur who is breaking the cycle of poverty and historically underrepresented communities by offering the first to market accessible security apprenticeship program for high school and adults. Lawrence, what is your question? And if you could start by stating [inaudible 00:33:58] the investors can ask questions. This is Taylor, and I'm done speaking.
Hello. Can you hear me?
Yes, we can hear you now. Thank you.
Okay. Thank you. Hi. my question is, if I have some traction and now I'm starting a raise, how do I send emails to investors I may not know like cold emails? And I just want to say hi to Dave. I am a Patriot Boot Camp alumni. Thank you. I'm done asking my question.
Awesome, Lawrence. This is David. Thanks for the Patriot Boot Camp shout out. I think when you're... Actually, hit me with the question one more time, because I want to make sure I get the nuance of it, Lawrence. Just hit me with the specific question. Or if somebody can repeat it.
Lawrence, you're on mute.
I have traction. I'm in two schools, I have a $4 million grant that I'm partnering with. How do I reach out to angels who I may not know?
Just the cold aspect of it, got it. I missed that part. So, look, I think the advice you'll hear a lot is, don't reach out cold, go through the network and that's one of the problems that I think we have in the venture capital industry is that, that sentiment is out there. And I do think that's changing. I do think people are much more likely to engage. Look, it doesn't have to be completely cold. As angel was just saying, you click around on the profiles here of some of the investors. You can text me, right? So that's not going to feel cold. That's going to feel like, "Hey, we were just chatting at Clubhouse, and I was the one that asked the question that mentioned Patriot Boot Camp."
I think you can warm stuff up a lot easier than you might think. I think that's worth doing just by participating in conversations and being part of the community more broadly. It doesn't take a lot to make it not completely cold. And of course, if there's somebody in that person's portfolio or personal network that you're connected to, that's probably a better way to go. But I have a blog post on my blog called the perfect email, davidgcohen.com. I once got an email for an entrepreneur that was totally cold, but it was perfect. And I was so impressed by it that I wrote about it. And he'd taken the time to understand what my background was and how it was relevant to what he was doing. And it just felt like, "Gosh, I should engage with this person."
The other little tip I would give you is small asks first. So, if I get an email that says, "Hey, I'd like you to invest a million dollars in my company." That's pretty hard to engage with. It's going to require me deciding I want to do it and spending a bunch of time, but the small asks might be, "Hey, I wonder if you could click on this link and check out this product that I built," give me some feedback on this one feature because I think it's relevant to your background. And again, this is a way to warm up the relationship and sort of move into it over time. So start with smaller, easier things to do, rather than saying, "Can we grab a coffee or jump on a Zoom call?" You can engage in simpler ways that are easier for the investor to engage with across the 10,000 emails you're going to get that month. So those are a few ideas for reaching out cold. And I'm done speaking. It's David.
I think Angel, this is Piers. I think the other side of that coin, Lawrence, is the probability of a cold, despite David's great advice is make it as good as you possibly can, but the probability of it landing and being read or taken seriously or acted upon is low. That's the grim reality. And one of the best way of getting into somebody and this can be really, really hard if you don't have that kind of social capital at the network is by a warm introduction. Now, what that means can be they went to school with your father, whatever it might be, or friend, or it can be an event. But you have to work very, very hard to try and make that intro as warm as possible, whatever that means to you. That's Piers. I'm done speaking.
Yeah. I think that's a great point, and sage advice. So I hope Lawrence you find that helpful, but one of the beauties of Clubhouse is, you are able to start developing those relationships. And as David and Piers mentioned, any way that you can find to start building an authentic way, but also making it really, really easy for investors, David's advice I think, is really smart because if I can answer either a message that comes in by a social media or an email, and I also just set up a new text mobile number on my profile as well. Thank you for reminding me of that, David. Whatever you can do to make it easy to start being helpful, like sending links or saying, "Hey, did you look at this?" Or "Did you know about this?" That at least starts that relationship. So I hope that's helpful for you today,
Yes, it is. I've been part of start-up... Piggybacking on Shauna, I've been part of startup groups. I did EdTech, startup. I've been a mentor. So I was in a small city and I'm trying to branch out to a bigger audience. Thank you. I'm done speaking.
Thank you, Lawrence. One of the aspects of diversity is sometimes, location or geography because sometimes it's harder to get access to investors depending on where you're at. And as Piers said, and David alluded to, unfortunately there are some investors who won't respond to cold emails. And I think, as a female founder, having come from Detroit, I can share frustration that other founders feel, because I think that what it does is it really limits the investment ecosystem to networks that already exist. And although those networks have become more diverse and you're seeing more female, people of color and other neuro diverse, a lot of different ages kind of come in to the investment ecosystem, it's still got a long way to go.
And so if we continue to limit it to people we already know, trust, then we're missing out on a lot of opportunities and there's more than sufficient evidence that female founders and other diverse founders, outperform in many cases their counterparts. So not being open to those cold emails, I think, is a problem that we need to eradicate. And as an investor, I'm always open to cold. But to Piers' point, it does come across better if I know they've put a little work in. So to David's point about, maybe it being very personalized. With that cold outreach, if I feel like it's a spray and pray, copy and paste, then I feel like it's disrespectful of me and my time, because that doesn't tell me that you've done any research about me or why you think we should be in relationship. So just think about it like you would with any other kind of relationship. So thank you for your question. David, did you have something.
Actually, Angel, can just add quickly Hi, it's Piers. The point needs is that some people it's not personal, it's just volume.
To deal with volume and what they do, they put somebody in between you and them to filter it for you. And that could be anybody. And as soon as they do that, you're not talking to that person. No matter what you do in the email, the person read it, it may not be relevant, they may not understand it themselves, and understand the intended recipient, what do you do because you've done more homework. That's the issue sometimes. It's not personal. It's just how to deal with volume. It's Piers and I'm done talking.
Thanks, Piers. It's David. Today I'll get 30 emails that'll be asking for a meeting and they'll be addressed to somebody else or mentioned the wrong company. They're just spam, highly automated. Those are pretty easy to ignore, but I think the challenge for any investor, listening in the group, and I think a lot of us already think about it this way is, I still respond. Any email I get that has a question mark in it, or it has some kind of ask or a way to engage, I'm going to engage. I have lots of email templates that I use, I'll admit it. But I'm being helpful in that response, and I'm providing resources like a Startup Weekend or like an accelerator, right? Or like some online resources and it begins a conversation. And the longer conversation is expensive, but just replying to an email is not. So I think for any industrial listening, try to reply to your emails. It's a way to open the network.
Sorry, Steven, did you want to say something?
Hi, this is Steven [inaudible 00:43:41]. I just wanted to add that depending on who you're sending it to, some people always look at their emails, cold emails, and they'll usually mention it on their websites that they do. But for those that do not, even if they do not read the email is extremely hard to escape reading the subject line. And so if you could fit your pitch in the subject line, it will be read. And if it's good enough, then they'll click on the email and they'll read the rest of the email. And then that will be great. And it's sort of the pattern that you want to do in every pitch is to get to the next step. So concentrate on that subject line at the very beginning for a cold email for any [inaudible 00:44:25].
Thank you, Steven. And I would also encourage Lawrence, if you're reaching out to early stage venture firms, oftentimes, people will go to the GP first. And a lot of times, it's oftentimes better to try to reach out to an analyst or maybe somebody who's kind of younger within the firm so that you can start to get a better understanding... They're more likely to respond, number one. I would say that they not necessarily have less volume, but possibly. And also because it's kind of their job to source as wide a pool and to narrow that funnel as possible, so developing a relationship with them first. Sometimes you get insights that help you prepare for that email or that introduction to a GP. So this is Angel, and I'm done. Marco, did you have something to add before we move on to Chris?
Yeah, I just want to add one last point. And it's maybe more for the benefit of the whole room. So while we've been in this room today, I've actually received a cold email, and to David's point, he mentioned it, I think more and more of us investors are responding to cold emails and yes, it was entitled that he'd met me in a Clubhouse room, but here's the little bit of advice, if I may. So I opened it up and I started reading and then I realized it was a long email, so I've just done a word count and it is 1100 words long. So obviously, my friction has just built up. So my advice would be is, we're all consumers. So us consumers, we like everything to be as frictionless as possible.
So before you send that email to an investor, just put yourself in their shoes and think, "If this was sent to me, would I open it? And would I therefore read it and go all the way through?" Because I would just make a suggestion, if you're sending an email that's 1200 words long, yes, I will read it. But does it become a priority or at the top of my list? Maybe, maybe not. So just look at it from, if you were receiving the email, would you open it and would you read it? Just a suggestion. I'm Marco, and I'm done speaking.
Thank you, Marco. So I hope that was helpful today, Lawrence. And I welcome you to come back and start building those relationships so that the emails are not cold. Thank you for your question.
Thank you. And I'm done speaking.
Thank you. And I keep forgetting to do it. Thank you for doing that. This is Angel, and I'm ready for you to call someone up, Taylor.
Great. Okay, now we're going to move to Chris. And Chris is a regular in our audience. He's the co-founder of [Aon Charge 00:47:32]. Chris, could you [inaudible 00:47:35] by saying, my question is? This is Taylor, and then done speaking.
Hi, Taylor. This is Chris. Thank you for bringing me up and giving me this opportunity to ask my question. So my question is, it's around startup accelerators and incubators. So the question is how would you really weigh the value of a general accelerator compared to more industry specific accelerators? I know that Techstars has both the general and the specialized accelerators and that industry specific accelerators seem to have become more popular recently. And yeah, we're currently in the smart cities, smart mobility space, and we've applied and we are applying to a few different types of accelerators. So then, my question would be comparing those types of accelerators, what are the potential value gains or signals to investors and would you recommend one over the other? I'm Chris and I'm done speaking. Thank you.
Hi, Chris. It's David. We do run both types and I actually think that that ends up being a benefit in and of itself because even if an entrepreneur goes to an accelerator in New York city, because that's where they want to be, they're still in a network that has all of that vertical expertise. Look, I think in what we would call vertical accelerators, thematic or industry specific, you're going to see high concentration of expertise in that industry. Interestingly, we don't usually try to hire a managing director. The person that runs the accelerator locally, who is necessarily even from that industry, we try to hire a generalist, but the mentors are certainly going to have a lot of industry expertise. We're going to aggregate investors that are interested in that topic and there's going to be other entrepreneurs working in that particular, general area.
So if you want a lot of focus on industry and you want... Most of those in our case tend to be a consortium of corporate sponsors as well, who are involved, which can be really, really powerful. But at the same time, could create some headaches or drawbacks, right? We want to be real about that. So I think it's really about the focus of the program, the types of investors who are going to have their eye on it, because they're interested in that particular domain. And then the general ones, you're probably going to have a broader set of experiences in that mentor pool. But a little bit, and sorry to be [inaudible 00:47:37] speaking, but Techstars has a mix of that because even in a thematic accelerator, you've got sort of the general mentor pool of 8,000 across the world. So I think it comes down to that thematic expertise and focus of the program. I'm David and I'm done.
And Chris, I know we have talked a bit about the fundraising that you've been doing and some of the things that you're progressing with, and it sounds like you are making a lot of progress, but I think I'm not sure if I'm mentioned in before, but I ran a smart mobility accelerator with BP and Castro Lubricants. And so I'm happy to provide some feedback in terms of any accelerators that you're looking at. If you want to contact me via the mobile and my profile or via the email on my profile. And I'm angel and I'm done.
Is that helpful, Chris?
Yes, very. I will definitely reach out to you about that. And thank you, David, for that perspective as well.
Thanks, Chris. So just resetting the room for a moment. We are here talking about all things fundraising, and we thought a panel of angel investors and venture capitalists. We are here at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time, Monday through Friday. So if you don't have an opportunity to have your questions answered, circle back tomorrow. In addition to that, if you're liking this conversation, check out Angel's profile. You can find Angel Club and that's angelclub.com. And that's a place where they're continuing these conversations in more [inaudible 00:52:10]. So check that out. [inaudible 00:52:14] follow, so that you know the next time that they're speaking. And so with that, we're going to go to Kelly and Kelly is a founder with 15 years experience in... Looks like in manufacturing. So hi, Kelly. What is your question? Please start by stating my question is, and the investors will ask for clarifying questions. This is Taylor, and I'm done speaking.
Hello, Taylor. Thank you so much for the opportunity for inviting me on stage. I appreciate it. My question is regarding what David said earlier, who's on your team. So I'm looking for advice on how to go about building the team from my current project that I'm involved in. One of the main questions that I'm getting when I'm pitching is, "It looks like you're a solo entrepreneur or solo founder. Can you tell us a little bit more about your team?" And the team that I have is very heavy on the... How do I say? The industry side that I'm dealing with. Not so much the business side. So when I'm looking to add people to my team, what does that conversation look sound like? How do I go about doing it, without it being creepy like, "Hey, do you want to be my co-founder?" I'm just trying to get a little bit of advice on how does a solo entrepreneur start bringing other people into her company that she needs to have as far as backup. Does that make sense?
It's David. It does Kelly. Thanks. Yeah, sounds like pithy easy advice, right? Just go build an amazing team. And it sounds like you've already done that. I think that industry expertise is super valuable. So I would definitely talk that up, but I guess in terms of tactics for finding whatever profiles you need to add to the business, the two words that come to mind would be thought leadership. Just talking a lot in forums and places where people who are interested in this topic hangout, and I know you're thinking, well, you're probably thinking, well, there's a lot of domain expertise in those forums. But believe it or not, there are people who have interests that are going to be more generalists or startup people that might surprise you. And just talking about like, I saw the profile, I'm not sure exactly what it is, but therapeutic devices.
So there's going to be somebody who's had their loved one impacted by something that you're working on or something that's related to the cause, or that they're just interested in, that when you're out there speaking again in a very human way, right? Not in a technical way, that only someone in the industry would understand, but about the benefits of what you're doing and, "Oh, by the way, I'm looking for someone that has successfully built a startup before to help me do that. And this is a great opportunity." But not leading with that, rather leading with in the forums and the blog posts, in the Clubhouse discussions, leading with why somebody should care. I go back to Simon Sinek and start with why. It's not what you do or how you do it, but why you do it that attracts people. So really, being open with why you do it, what's in the heart, not just in the spreadsheet. How about why you want to do this, can attract great people to the company. I'm David, and I'm done.
And Kelly, that's great advice, no surprise. But in my experience, Kelly, I had worked with Michael and Xochi Birch when we were creating Bebo and we built up this amazing success story at the time in the social media space. And so I went into my next ventures with a good track record and an $850 million exit, behind me. And so in terms of being able to kind of position myself to attract talent, I would say, it was very good at that next stage. And that was a long time ago. And I've had a few since then, but when I went into Sensei a martech company that I founded, what I really needed is I needed AI and ML experience.
I needed like really strong data scientists. And I didn't have an extensive network in that space. And I wanted the best of the best. And I wanted those as team members. I wanted them from kind of junior, entry-level data scientists all the way through up to co-founder. Anyway, so I just started really reaching out and asking people, I was sharing a bit about my story and what I was trying to create, but I was really just looking for information about how to build these kinds of companies and how to build this capability within this MVP that I had been developing. I wasn't even entirely sure I knew the problem that I wanted to solve, and I was very, very passionate about the problem.
And so through the course of those discussions, I was really just learning more and more and more about AI and ML, which I didn't have a background in, and being vulnerable with people can oftentimes create a kind of intimacy in that relationship. And a lot of people like to share their knowledge. That's why we have rooms like this, right? So if you go at it from that perspective of, really just building that relationship and learning, then a lot of times you can create that vulnerability and that intimacy, and that relationship, and you can learn a lot along the way. And as you're doing that, you start to build up your network of these people who can become really amazing members of your team.
And when we talk about team in here, we talk about pretty much every aspect, from co-founders to people that you might hire, to advisors, to mentors, to investors, they all make up your team. And you want to make sure that those people are people who are going to stick with you through thick and thin for at least a decade. It's not something you're going to do overnight, but actively seeking out those people, first you can look in social media, you can do your research that way, you can reach out to them and just say, this is what I'm building. These are the questions I have, and keep them really short and snappy and start to build those relationships. It's very similar to how we were talking about with cold emails and reaching out to investors. Does anyone else [inaudible 00:59:00]-
Angel, it's Piers, I'll add a few things.
I'm Angel, I'm done.
So a couple of things, so two things, really. One is, you mentioned that you have a team of people you've worked with and you trust, and you built some relationship and now looking to go somewhere else. So be very careful who you take with you because quite often, maybe they're very good in one sector, you may have people who are generalists, maybe it's finance or ops people, whatever it might be, but they're not the right people for your new business. So be very careful is where you don't take generalists over into the new business, that rapidly you want specialists, and you find that you begin to have very awkward conversations very quickly. So just think about very long and hard about who you're taking to a new business. And generally, for the audience is when you're starting a business, don't just grab the people that are available or those that you know have done a bit of marketing or they're a friend of a friend looking for work, and they can give a bit of time to you.