How to get a meeting with an investor

Today I want to tell you about a woman named Kathryn Minshew. If her name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve heard of her company – a job-search and career advice site called The Muse.

Kathryn and her team have raised over $30 million.

But before raising all that capital, Kathryn was rejected... 143 times.

And when I think about how many cold emails she sent just to get 143 meetings, my head starts to hurt.

So this got me thinking… what can fundraising founders do to increase their chances of getting a meeting?

I posed that question to the partners at Hustle Fund. Here are 4 things they suggest to increase your odds of landing a meeting with a VC:

1. Keep it short

Most investors are constantly on the go, checking email on their phone between meetings.

This means they likely won’t have time to read a 5-paragraph essay that outlines your company’s mission, business model, value prop, fundraising goals, and traction.

Our recommendations:

  • Include one line about your business
  • Use a few bullet points to indicate the value prop, current pilots, and/or traction
  • End with a clear call to action, like “Do you have time for a 15-minute call on Wednesday to talk about fundraising?”

2. Get a warm intro

Investors are 93% more likely to take a meeting with someone who has been
recommended to them.

But not everyone has a second-degree connection to an investor. So, how do you make a warm intro out of thin air?

One tactic is to reach out to one of the investor’s portfolio company CEOs.

Start by introducing yourself to the CEO and asking for their advice on something startup-related (see #1 for tips on getting a response).

Then, once you’ve developed a relationship with her, ask the CEO for an intro to their investors.

When an investor gets an introduction to an emerging startup from one of their star CEOs, they’re more likely to take you seriously.

3. Do your research

VCs often tailor their investments around a certain type of business. Their focus could be an industry (VR vs. marketplaces), founder profile (female founders vs. founders in a specific region), or size (pre-seed vs. Series A).

Many VCs won’t take the time to respond to emails from startups that aren’t in their sweet spot, let alone take a meeting with them.

As one investor told me, “I’m far more likely to book a meeting from a cold email that seems like it could be a good fit for my firm’s mandate than I am to book a meeting from a warm intro to a company that isn’t a fit.”

4. Reduce Your Red Flags

As VCs, it’s our job to ask the hard questions. To determine (quickly and fairly) whether a company is promising enough to warrant 45-60 minutes of our time.

We review enough applications to quickly spot red flags in an application -- things that prevent us from moving forward with a company.

Here are a few common flags that often prevent us from taking a meeting:

  • If the founder isn’t working on the business full-time
  • If the revenue model is based entirely on ads
  • If the team seems distracted with many different opportunities, rather than focused on the core business
  • If we’ve already invested in a similar company
  • If the company requires a huge amount of capital to be raised before you can take the MVP to market
  • If the valuation is super high

Keep in mind - these "flags" are specific to Hustle Fund.

Be sure to do your research (see tip #3) to find out what other VCs consider to be deal breakers.

Do you have your own tips on how to get a meeting with a VC? If so, we want to hear them!

Click here to submit your best practices. Don’t worry, we won’t publish anything without giving you credit for the idea.