These are Forward Partners dealflow stats for the first four months of 2016

  • 832 leads
  • 47 first meetings (6% of leads)
  • 8 second meetings (17% of first meetings)
  • 2 deals (25% of second meetings)

We met an additional 53 companies at FP Office Hours. In some ways they are like first meetings and they do sometimes lead to deals, but they are only 15 minutes long and many of them are speculative in nature so I excluded them from the analysis.

I imagine other investors have a similar leads:meetings:deals ratios and the headline here is that it’s only once you’ve got to a second meeting that there’s a reasonable chance of getting investment, and even at that point it’s only 25%. Getting a first meeting is an achievement in itself which often makes it feel like the prospects of getting investment are better than they are, but that feeling can lead to dangerous complacency. The numbers say you need four second meetings and as many as 24 first meetings to have a good chance of a deal.

Raising money is best thought of as selling equity in your business, and the fundraising process is a sales process. Unless you have strong relationships it’s a numbers game.

If you do have strong relationships then it’s about how strong they really are – e.g. if you know investors well enough that you are in effect coming in at second meeting level then you only need 4.

The smartest founders have a strategy for their fundraising and build a plan which they execute with discipline. They know who their targets are and which investor is their favourite, and they make sure they have enough names in their pipeline.


  • Ascendant

    Your analysis is broadly in line with our years of experience of fund raising for tech and life science companies. However I think you need to factor in other things – eg number of available investors at each key stage of the company’s development (ie seed, Series A, SeriesB, Pre IPO, etc.), sector, etc. In internet services and some areas of software you might get 24 first meetings at seed but not at Series A. For other niche areas and later stage deals there might not be much more than 24 financial VC investors available full stop unless you reach out to corporates and certain overseas investors (as we frequently have to do). Also the time and effort involved in getting 24 meetings arranged (let alone executed, followed up, etc.) is staggering and well beyond the capability of most early stage companies we see. I think if you did a poll of CEOs who had successfully raised at Series A asking how many proper/formal/face to face (90 minute) first round meetings did you get with UK based financial VCs, very few indeed would say that they had actually met 24 or more. I would be cautious about applauding CEOs who did say that had met that many as my first instinct would be that they had had major issues fund raising and/or had spent way too long in the process. In reality there will be much networking, many calls, connecting on Linkedin, plenty of emails with teasers and plans, but one to one detailed presentations of the business – not so much.


  • Tom Rutledge

    As it is a numbers game, more first meetings will probably lead to better investments. If I am not mistaken, you are a team of 4. This means that each of you had a total of 0.8 meetings/week on average (assuming that there was 1 partner/meeting), which for industry standards is very very low.

  • Hi Tom – the FTE investment team is smaller than that at the moment, maybe two people now Pradeep has left. That said we ask for information before meeting companies and screen to a higher bar than most other investors. For us the numbers game is the number of companies we interact with, not the number that we meet.

  • Hi Stuart – I think you’re right, fewer meetings are required as you get to later rounds. By that time founders should also have relationships which increase their chances of success and mean they are effectively coming in at second meeting stage. Additionally, working with Ascendant (or other advisors) is a way to boost relationships and have a similar effect.

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  • MrB4real

    A VC fund can only invest in the deals it sees, i.e. has access to. This is the foundation of a VC fund performance (better investments), not the # of meetings it does.

  • Tom Rutledge

    True, VCs can invest if only has access. Also, when you take a meeting you dig deeper into a startup. Thus, make better decision. At FP, are spending ~2% of their working hours on meetings (<1hr per week), which is very very low for industry standards. In Silicon Valley, it`s not that unusual for a partner to have up to 25 meetings/week. This might explain why Silicon Valley VCs have much better performance than European ones. Anyways, it`s either that the quality of leads is very bad or FP rushes when says no for a meeting.

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