Investor meetings are over-rated

I’ve just been reading the LowercaseCapital website. It’s full of lots of goodness and common sense about changes in startup finance and how we in the venture industry should react. It also has this about meetings between investors and entrepreneurs:

Meetings aren’t always necessary. Often, entrepreneurs are in a rush to meet in person. We went along with this for a long time and soon saw our schedules descend into gridlock and we ended up generally unhealthy and unhappy and still not actually getting much done. We hear the same every day from investors and founders alike. Truth is, meetings are usually inefficient. Let’s start with email. Maybe next we can do a brief call after we’ve tried your stuff and we have something to chat about. We’ve confidently done business without ever having been in the same room as a few of our founders and partners.

To which I would say “too true”. Apart from the last sentence. I don’t think we would ever make an investment without meeting the entrepreneur.

But the rest of it is spot on. Too often I think entrepreneurs target meetings with investors rather than targeting investment. If you target meetings you will probably get more meetings, but if you target investment you will have at least the same chance of getting an investment and you will spend less time in meetings.

Most of the emails we receive are asking for meetings, and then when we are in meetings many entrepreneurs see getting a next meeting as their main objective. It’s much better at every stage to be qualifying investors in or out based on likelihood of investing. Good sales people do this in other walks of life – they get lots of prospects in the top of their funnels but they only spend time with the very few who have a high probability of turning into deals. It’s good to think of fundraising as a sales process where the product is equity in your startup.

If you follow this advice you will get crisp at making your business sound exciting over email and you will ask investors about the process for getting to investment and what your chances are of getting there. And investors will be impressed.