Ask for Advice? Get Funded!
This paradoxical headline on Forbes.com caught my eye, “Create Investor Demand by Asking for Advice”. Author Ryan Shank, COO of Mhelpdesk, suggests that “a great way to gain the attention of potential investors is to do something you probably haven’t thought of: ask them for expert advice.”
He advocates the habit of surrounding oneself with the smartest people you can find. For tech startups, these influencers can open doors and save you time as they tell you the rules of the road. Not to mention, they could also become your investors.
As a startup entrepreneur, though, how do you get the attention of the leaders in your industry if you’re not connected yet? That’s where asking for advice comes in. The author gives personal examples of how without any introductions, he forged crucial advisory relationships with investors simply by innocently asking an intelligent question online.
In two separate instances, a series of sincere interactions led to an engaging dialogue, which naturally resulted in the venture capitalists becoming aware of how viable his business concept was. Naturally, their interest was piqued.
Although the results of these approaches to VCs were unintentional, they’re repeatable. In the article, he gives anecdotal evidence of how asking for advice from VCs in three ways can provide unexpected benefits.
How to Approach a VC for Advice:
1. Follow them online and ask questions through their social media channels. The key is to ask an intelligent, specific question about your startup.
2. Inquire about metrics. In the process of gaining useful advice, you will have to reveal to the VC what your metrics are. If they’re impressive, they will get the VC’s attention.
3. Reach out when negotiating deals. Not only will you get helpful guidance, asking during a time when there’s an acquisition or partnership on the table will also generate some excitement.
Shank writes, “With their advice we gain perspective, which gives us the ability to make the right decisions. Consulting with mentors, entrepreneurs and VCs about acquisition also legitimizes our business and shows that there is serious interest from major companies.”
When you ask industry leaders for advice, at the very least you’ll get a little guidance in the right direction, and who knows…what they learn about your startup just might inspire them to take you under their wing.
To view the original article in its entirety, please visit Forbes.