Fundraising · Venture capital

How to research potential Investor ?

Max Avroutski Building EV Charging & Electric Energy Access company

October 11th, 2015

1) How to research potential Investor ?
2) What questions to get an answer on in the research? What to look for?
3) Is there sites that list pre-researched info that is needed?

4) Also, I read on a VC's website "Think why your business should appeal to us, given our track record of investments and the public comments we've made"- why is it my job to waste hours or days looking for this if they didn't even tried to put it on their website in a concise way. Should I just ask them : "Are you interested in ABC that does XYZ?" and they can read it for 15 seconds and say Yes or No ? Am I really wasting that much of their time vs they are wasting too much of my and every other entrepreneurs time?

EDIT: No, I am not implying that Investors should be spamed not respecting their investment criteria. I am simply making mental evaluation of time productively used vs wasted. Kind of playing "bitching" about it. Obviously tone of my original post performance didn't translated.

I want to innovate and find better solution for something that takes a lot of time like researching Investors. I don't want to waste my time doing SAME exact research that 100,000 people already did and 99,999 wasted their time doing and could have just read the concise results of previous research.

I want to put more of my time toward building product and getting customers, not researching Investors from scratch. So maybe there are places that allow Investors and Entrepreneurs to come together and save each side time. Where I can type my industry or type of product and get a list of investors interested in that and/or put a profile and indicate an industry and type of product and where investors can search?

So far I found:

Are there others?


Peter Weiss President at American Outlook, Inc.

October 11th, 2015

The default answer for every investor is "no".  

Investors work hard to accumulate capital (whether it's our own or other people's) and have no need or obligation to fund anyone's dream (or fantasy).  

Raising capital is no different than any other kind of selling - you need to figure out which potential customers will be interested and have the money and other resources needed to buy your product. Then you need find a way to reach them and make the item on offer attractive to them.  You wouldn't market steaks to vegetarians, pork chops to observant Jews or Muslims or baby diapers to senior citizens who aren't raising their grandchildren.  

If you don't think it's worth your while to spend some time figuring out whether a particular investor (or pool of investors) is inclined to invest in your story you need to have a long conversation with yourself about what it takes to make a business work.  The exercise of pre-qualifying whether you and another party are a more or less likely match is the same whether you're raising money; selling products or services; recruiting employees; picking attorneys, accountants and other professional advisors; looking for real estate; choosing a cell phone carrier, etc., etc., etc.  

Your post indicates an attitude which should be a caution flag for anyone who might otherwise be willing to consider backing you.  There are the stories which have been around for years about VC firms who wont do business with entrepreneurs who are rude to their receptionists because they believe the behavior is indicative of how the management team will act in other situations; I've come to believe that anyone who doesn't demonstrate respect and courtesy to investors is showing how they will behave toward customers, vendors and staff in the future and, unless they are very young and highly coachable, stay away from them as clients or investments.

Chris Owens

October 11th, 2015


Not sure how many "desperate investors"  there are out there or how accurate that characterization is.  Of course I am not an investor myself and so one could argue that I don't have insight into what they are really thinking.  But what I can go off of is what they SAY at event after event.

Forget about the supply and demand argument if you don't like that one.  I have another one for you: ATTENTION.

Generally, investors have a lot of people and companies clamoring for their ATTENTION.  And the more people you have asking for your attention at once, the more you start to rely on shorthand ways to sift through the pile of requests (emails, Gust submissions, calls, etc.)  So what YOU need is to know exactly what they are looking for and provide something like that or you will be easily passed over because you did not fulfill the first requirement of engagement with them, which is "Talk about something I'm interested in." Remember, THEY get a lot of requests in their inbox to "look at my company", but YOU likely don't get a lot of requests in your inbox saying "Let me invest in you." (otherwise you would not have started this topic).

Correct me if I am wrong here, but the impression I am getting from you is that you are somehow annoyed at how things seem to work in this whole investor-entrepreneur ecosystem and that you feel it is somehow not fair. Well, while I understand that it can be frustrating, whether it is fair or not is not really relevant.  The point is how to get YOUR company noticed by the right people.  You can fight it or work within it, but fighting it will not get you where you want to be.

Chris Owens

October 11th, 2015

Well from the perspective of the law of supply and demand, the investor is the one who has MANY options to choose from.  They get literally DELUGED with requests to back this company or that.  So the onus really is on YOU as the entrepreneur to stand out from the crowd and do your homework ahead of time. Remember, you are asking THEM for help. Act accordingly.

Now that being said, it is usually not that hard to find out what they are interested in.  Usually on their website they say they are interested in companies at "early stage" or "growth stage", etc.  They will also mention what industries they invest in like "life sciences" or "green energy" or "mobile apps".  They also usually tell you whether they are interested in B2B or B2C businesses, etc.

You can of course check their blog or their Twitter account to see what they talk about.  You can check their portfolio of companies they invested in or look for their profile on Crunchbase to see what they have invested in and how much.

And lastly, they usually put "submission guidelines" on their website, including HOW they want to receive a pitch.  Some say you have to submit an exec summary first.  Others want you to fill out a profile on Gust.  And others still merely say that it is best to be introduced to them from someone they already know.

Maybe the VC you looked up doesn't do a good job of answering these questions, but if so you can either 1) ask them, 2) dig around as I have described above or 3) just look into a different VC.

Anton Yakovlev Founder of four successful businesses on two continents who can help you do the same

October 11th, 2015

My 2 cents. I am a strong believer that the relations between an investor and an entrepreneur have more of partnership and colaboration, than any kind of buy/sell attitude. They both need each other, except the entrepreneur needs a little bit more, as time works against him harder than against the investor. Nevertheless, in case you want to establish partnership with anyone (not neccesserily an investor, your friend, or wife - just the same) you need to make sure this parnership is mutually beneficial, and that the parties are ready to support each other. Therefore you should keep this in mind when starting approaching investors, otherwise it just won't work.  

Gray Holland founder / director at UX-FLO

October 11th, 2015

I know it can be frustrating - I am just starting this part of the journey myself. Christopher is right, its about supply and demand of ATTENTION. 

Just to reframe this dance properly: 
Investors have the money - but money is a commodity that only holds value relative to the "work" you can do with it. 
You have the new idea and the way to get it to market (lets suppose) - you hold the unique value/prize because it can do the "work" - increasing quality of life and making more money. 

Your job is to get your unique message across, and how you will exponentially increase the money they are potentially investing with you. 

Max Avroutski Building EV Charging & Electric Energy Access company

October 11th, 2015

No, I am not trying to fight it - that would be pointless. I am simply recognizing that it's inefficient by default, and asking other people to point me to a source of data or website where it is more efficient or like a marketplace.

Are there more ?

Jake Ring President at dcBLOX Inc.

October 11th, 2015

Max, VC firms are constantly being pitched or provided executive summaries and biz plans, many which don't fit their criteria. If they've asked "look at what we invest in" and you see Fin tech SaaS and you're pitching a new mobile fitness app, it's not a match. Use your head, it's not their job to find you, it's your job to find them, and find someone who can introduce you to one of their partners to make them pay attention. They have the money you want, if you think VCs are going to beat a path to your door you are sadly mistaken. Best regards, Jake Ring Sent from my iPhone

Patricia Wetzel Founder at The Anti-Cancer Club™

October 13th, 2015

I am finding that it's a who-you-know game. You need a sound business plan, a global market with very significant upside, IP, an outstanding team and traction (obviously) and then you need an introduction. I was at a talk given by Chamath Palihapitiya last week and he said that if you're not white, male and ivy league (Stanford included!) Sand Hill Road simply won't finance you. He said this point blank to a black man and woman (she was an MD) in the room.

While I don't necessarily believe that, I do think that getting someone to simply talk to you is somewhere between brutal and impossible. And the investing community has a herd mentality. If Fitbit is the hot item du jour, then wearables are funded. If it's health records, then new bureaucracies are funded. It is what it is. Investing moves in trends that often lack creativity or vision. It's the same in New York (been there, done that) and in Palo Alto. It takes guts to see the world differently and be willing to put your money where your mouth is. Instead, people find comfort in herds.

And I'm not going to change this dynamic. But I will find a way to get in front of the people I need to get in front of and get my company the money it needs to move to the next level. Anyone interested, contact me!