Forward Partners’ Nic Brisbourne on how startups should approach investors

Forward Partners’ Nic Brisbourne on how startups should approach investors

February 5, 2016 by Anna O'Hare

The SURGE Startup Series offers weekly tips for startups. Last week we offered advice on perfecting your startup’s social media presence. This week we’ve teamed up with Nic Brisbourne, Partner at Forward Partners, to let you know how to win over investors.

Since 2000, Nic has been in venture capital, joining Forward Partners in 2013. His investment experience includes which was acquired by AOL for $125m.

You know your startup inside out. You’ve been there since day one. Now you need an investor to back you and win big at a startup event.

Your first instinct might be to pitch to every investor you see.

Before you do that, read this.

At startup conventions, investors are like rockstars. Everyone wants to see them and everyone wants their time. It’s easy to be looked over if you’re not strategic about how you approach them.

For investor Nic Brisbourne, it’s about making connections with investors now, rather than waiting until you desperately need them.

“Start making contact with investors a long time before you need money,” he said.

“Firstly, this gives you time to build relationships without having to rush things. Then, when it comes to asking the investor for money they’ve been following the progress of your company for a little bit, they’ve got an idea of the progress you’ve made and your abilities as an entrepreneur.

“All those things are much harder to judge when people need to raise money shortly after meeting.”

It’s all about building relationships over the long term. In an ideal world, this startup/investor relationship will have been slowly built over months. However, even a few weeks can make a difference.

Office Hours at our flagship event Web Summit.
Office Hours at our flagship event Web Summit.

Nic was involved with Office Hours at our flagship event Web Summit. Office Hours at our events is where we preschedule back-to-back 15 minute meetings between startups and some of the world’s leading investors. For him, the startups that stood out were the ones that reached out to him before the event.

“They got to know me by reaching out to me on my Twitter or leaving comments on my blog,” he recalled. “They built some kind of relationship beforehand which differentiated them from the 100s of other people there.”

Before a big startup event, do a bit of research and find out which investors are going to be there. Once you’ve stumbled upon an investor who is interested in startups from your industry, find the investor on social media and introduce yourself.

Remember, you shouldn’t just be messaging them about your company. Instead, join in the conversation. You could tweet about a recent article they shared or comment on one of their blog posts.

With some forward thinking, you can start building relationships now that will pay out in the future. Good luck.

About the Author

Anna O'Hare
Anna is a storyteller at heart and is particularly passionate about telling the stories of startups. After returning from a year working in New York City's tech sector, she now writes for Collision, Web Summit, RISE and SURGE.