Raising money is a crucial step to startup success. People who do it well, know it’s a sales process where identifying the right prospects, building a relationship, timing your pitch and following up are critical. In many ways, we built Gist to optimize this experience and increase your chances of success. Here are a few tips to make the most of Gist in this process.
1. Connect all your personal accounts to Gist (email, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) – this will bring all your contacts into one place.
2. Start using “tags” to create key subgroups. I use “investor_VC”, “investor_angel” “influencer”, ”competition”… You can do this from the web or from inside Gmail or Outlook. More details on how to do this here.
3. If you are thin on investor contacts, you can start looking at places like Crunchbase to find similar companies, check their investors and “add them to Gist” (with the right tags). Here is an example from our friends at Zaarly, who just raised a major round and are power Gist users.
4. You can also “add contacts” to Gist from news articles and conference agendas…so it is pretty easy to get a strong list. Also, as people make intros for you (email or LinkedIn) new investors will automatically be added to your Gist database.
5. As you add investors to the list, you might want to add further tags including location (I use airport tags like “SFO”), focus (“CRM”) or even persona interests (like “wine” or “running”). These tags come in handy when you are looking for all the people in your list who are investors, who like wine (which is most of them) or are located around SFO.
6. Now you have your list of 10-50 potential investors. Make sure you have their fullest profiles including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook using the “edit contact details” in Gist. I also tend to cut and paste bios and other tidbits into the “notes” field (see Brad’s profile below). Key quotes, articles, relevant investments… Anything that will help you get a fuller picture of this investor.
7. Each morning you can start your day looking over the Gist dashboard (investors, competitors, influencers…) to see what people are
saying and where/when to make your pitch and how to fit it into their words. As you find tweets/articles that are relevant, you can share them;
sometimes back to the investors themselves “hey Brad, I really liked your post about Zynga…” or to your team “did you see what Brad said about the social gaming space…” This will help you build stronger relationships all around, show you are paying attention and are “in the know.”
8. As you interact (send emails, schedule meetings, etc.) Gist keeps tabs of this and ranks these contacts so you can stay focused on your most valuable prospects. You also get all this data inside your email client (Outlook or Gmail) so when you are interacting with Brad, you always know what is up with him, what he is thinking and in this case that he is traveling to Portland, which allows you to respond accordingly.
9. Keeping up with the right people at the right frequency is important. Use the Gist contact list (web) to see when you connected last and then reach out to keep your contacts fresh. I tend to review this weekly.
10. As you make progress on your startup, send your updates to potential investors. Get a good press mention or ship a significant update? Send it along. The easiest way to do this is inside Outlook or Gmail; select a tag (e.g. “investors_vc”), hit return (all the contacts in the tag will be shown with updates), click “actions” and now you can email them all with an update. Super fast and efficient.
11. Finally, as you are making the rounds, you always have access to your Gist contacts (updates, notes, shared contacts…) as Gist is available on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. Make a big impression with your understanding of the space, the firm, the individual… 10 seconds before the meeting starts.
Getting to know your potential investors, customizing your message, and showing ongoing and relevant progress is key to building getting and staying funded.
Have other things you want Gist to do? Let us know. Found your own way to make it work even better, let the community know by making a comment here.
This post was written by T.A. McCann, founder of Gist. T.A. is now a Vice President at Research In Motion, which acquired Gist in February 2011. Previously T.A. was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at both Vulcan Capital and Polaris Venture Partners. Find out more about T.A. at http://gist.com/tamccann