How to Get an Intro to an Investor?

Benjamin Debonneville
Founder & CEO
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Ever caught daydreaming about that game-changing business idea? Wondering how to catapult it into reality?

The key could be just one introduction away - an introduction to a venture capitalist (VC). But, hang on a second, not just any introduction. We're talking about a warm, personalized introduction made by a trusted contact.

Sounds intriguing, right?

For many ambitious entrepreneurs like you, that key often translates to an introduction to an investor, more specifically, a venture capitalist.

But how do you get this golden introduction? How do you find this magical middleman who holds the key to your entrepreneurial dreams?

Stay with us as we explore this not-so-secret but highly nuanced approach to capturing investor interest.

By the end of this journey, you won't just know how to unlock the door; you'll be ready to fling it wide open!

Different Ways to Reach an Investor

So, you're seeking that golden introduction, that singular key to investor engagement.

But is it the only way?

Of course not! There's a whole toolbox at your disposal.

Bruce Booth tweet about getting intro to investors

Before we dive deeper into the art of scoring introductions through a middleman, let's step back and look into the other tools in your kit.

Here are some of them:

  • Pitch events: Your startup's equivalent of speed dating, pitching your idea in quick, crisp terms. Who knows, your investor could be in the audience.
  • Cold emails: The good old shot in the dark. Craft a persuasive pitch, send it to the investor's inbox, and hope they bite!
  • Networking events: Where serendipity meets strategy. Rub elbows with industry leaders, and you might find an investor among them.
  • Online platforms: Sites like AngelList and LinkedIn can be the bridge connecting you and your future investor.
  • Incubators and accelerators: Where mentorship meets funding opportunities. Could there be a better combination?

There you have it, some of the intriguing ways to engage investors.

But let's get back to the heart of the matter: introductions through a middleman.

Who Will Get You a Successful Introduction to VCs?

Now, who could your introducer be, this person who can connect you with the Venture Capitalists of your dreams?

Tweet by Andrey Shirben about introduction by mutual connection

We're not talking about a mystic figure here, but someone rooted in the world of business, preferably familiar with yours.

  • A Past Colleague: Sharing professional pasts and a mutual understanding of business intricacies can make them your golden ticket.
  • Previous investors: They know you and your business, and they’ve already put their money where their mouth is.
  • An Industry Friend: Their industry insight and existing connections with investors can give you a leg-up.
  • Your Startup's Advisor: Trust in their expertise and network. Their vouch for you can carry weight!
  • Business Consultants: Their sole job is to connect and assist - make use of that.
  • A Former Boss: They've seen your work and know your potential. Their reference can hold substantial clout.
  • Successful Entrepreneurs in Your Network: Who better to make the intro than those who have walked your path and succeeded?

Voila! These can be potential middlemen to guide you to your VC introduction.

Remember, the world of startups is all about connections and leveraging them appropriately.

How to Connect With Them?

A Past Colleague: You can reconnect with them through a casual email or a LinkedIn message, bringing up fond memories or past projects you've worked on together.

Show interest in their current endeavors and subtly transition into discussing your need for VC introductions. Remember to provide value to them as well.

You might offer your expertise in an area they're currently working on or propose a catch-up lunch or dinner.

Previous Investors: Schedule a formal meeting or a casual catch-up to discuss the progress of your business since their investment.

Discuss the need for further investment and ask if they can introduce you to other potential VCs.

Be transparent about your goals and intentions and make sure your request aligns with their interest and capacity.

An Industry Friend: Engage in regular catch-ups and keep them updated about your startup's journey. When the timing feels right, express your need for VC introductions.

You can also attend industry events together where they might introduce you to potential investors.

Your Startup's Advisor: Regularly discuss your startup’s progress and future plans with them. Make them feel invested in your growth. When the need for VC arises, approach them for introductions to their network.

They are likely to have numerous connections within the VC world and will probably be willing to assist.

Business Consultants: Regularly engage with business consultants through professional platforms like LinkedIn, webinars, and industry events.

Show genuine interest in their work and occasionally seek their advice. When the time comes, confidently ask if they could introduce you to potential investors.

A Former Boss: Reach out and update them on your current business progress and express your need for a VC.

Given their knowledge of your work ethic and potential, they may be willing to vouch for you. Keep in mind to maintain your professional relationship with them, regardless of the outcome.

Successful Entrepreneurs in Your Network: Connect with them regularly, ask for their advice, and learn from their experiences. When you feel comfortable, you can ask for an introduction to their VC contacts.

Make sure to express your request humbly and be prepared to explain why you think their introduction might be beneficial.

In all these interactions, remember to be genuine, courteous, and respectful. It's important not to rush these relationships. Instead, allow them to develop naturally over time. This will ensure you don't come across as self-serving, but as someone who values these connections beyond the introductions they can provide.

Importance of Relationship Building for a Successful Introduction

Imagine walking into a party, sauntering up to a stranger, and asking them for a favor. Sounds outlandish, doesn't it?

Similarly, approaching a potential middleman and asking for an introduction to a VC without prior relationship building is akin to a cold call in the world of networking—it lacks warmth and context.

Consider the middle person as your ally, your advocate. Would you vouch for someone you barely know? Probably not.

Now flip that scenario. For your introducer to put their reputation on the line, they need to believe in you and your business idea.

A solid relationship built on trust, mutual respect, and demonstrated competence paves the way for that belief. It tells your middleman, "Yes, I am a worthwhile investment. An introduction from you will not only benefit my startup but also elevate your standing with the VC."

Remember, it's not just about getting the introduction. It's about getting a warm, credible introduction, and that begins with the strength of your relationship.

Because this is the start of your ultimate goal of the startup journey which is fundraising.

How to Return the Favor for an Introduction?

So, you've snagged that elusive investor introduction! Exciting, isn't it?

But hold on, your job isn't done. It's time to show some gratitude and return the favor to your generous middleman.

Think of it as the 'Thank You' note in the world of networking - personal, sincere, and impactful. A handwritten note expressing your appreciation? Classic, yet always appreciated.

Maybe, offer them some help in return, or better still, extend an invitation for coffee or dinner.

And if your introduction leads to a successful investment? Throw a little party to celebrate - your introducer deserves to be part of that success!

The gesture may seem small, but its impact isn't. The art of reciprocation keeps the wheels of networking turning.

Should You Pay for an Introduction?

Now here's a hot potato for you: Should you pay for an introduction? Is it a necessary evil or a boundary too far?

The business world's opinion is split on this one. It's like discussing pineapple on pizza at a dinner party—it stirs passion.

Let's demystify this a little, shall we?

If you're considering it, be mindful and tactical.

A flat fee upfront? Big no-no. It smells of desperation.

Equity? Another no-no. It’s like handing over the keys to your house before the first date.

But a percentage of the raise? Now that's a thought.

Look at it this way: it's an incentive, the cherry atop the sundae that might just sweeten the deal.

Consider this: Your ultimate goal is fundraising, right? If spending a little on a well-connected introducer can catalyze that goal, isn't that a worthy investment?

Yet, like any business transaction, it requires precision and protection—enter the contract.

Outline the specifics, play with different possibilities, and put a time limit on the introduction's validity.

In short, don't leave any room for confusion.

In the end, the key here is balance and negotiation. Navigate this territory with care!


So there we have it! The roadmap to a successful investor introduction is less a mysterious labyrinth and more a well-lit path, wouldn't you agree?

The crucial takeaway?

Connections are everything in the startup world, and leveraging them requires tact, trust, and a whole lot of courage.

Whether it's your former boss or a successful entrepreneur in your network, the right introducer can be your ticket to the VC of your dreams.

And, as for paying for an introduction? Well, that's a personal choice.

However, if that path is chosen, tread carefully. A balanced negotiation is your guiding light.

Fundraising isn't just about having a great business idea; it's about having the right people believe in it enough to vouch for you.

Now go out there, build those relationships, and get that introduction. After all, every great business venture starts with one powerful introduction, right?

Benjamin gave great tips to my start-up Blend for polishing and optimising my pitch deck, refreshing perspective. Recommend!