checklist

Founder Checklist for Managing Your Fundraise

Whether you are a first-time founder or a seasoned startup vet with successful rounds under your belt - fundraising is a pain. Staying on top of all the various jobs to be done at each stage of the process, particularly when you are seemingly aiming at moving targets, can be overwhelming.

We created this checklist to help you stay on top of all the various things you should be doing at each stage.

Prep

Lay the groundwork for quick fundraising. Just because you don’t plan to kick off your round for a few months doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done on it.

Put together a deck

Put together a pitch deck

This is your most important fundraising document at the seed stage. Don’t worry about a comprehensive business plan (most investors won’t actually read them) - but do have a 10-15 slide deck that covers all the key areas.

How to use Navigator for this

Once you have a pitch and financial model together, request an Assessment. Our team of experts, with experience as founders and in venture capital, will review your deck, provide some analysis and suggest ways to improve your chances of success with investors. Navigate over to the Assess link on Navigator to get started.

Learn more about the Assessment and how to request one.

Suggested resources

Discover, research and qualify investors

Discover, research and qualify investors

Make sure you have a large target list of potential investors, keeping in mind 1 in 20 will almost certainly be a no). You’ll want to be as efficient as possible, not wasting any time on meetings that won’t go anywhere, so make sure you do your research. Certain investors only look at certain sectors or geographies, or perhaps they aren’t investing as of late. Don’t go through all the steps of getting an intro to an investor only to find you aren’t and will never be a good fit. Additionally, make sure you aren’t missing out on the obvious potential VCs and angels - leave no stone unturned here to build and qualify your leads.

How to use Navigator for this

Our Search algorithm scans Crunchbase data and predicts best-fit investors for your startup. This is based on how frequently they’ve invested in startups like yours recently. This is a great way to quickly build up and prioritise your investor leads and add them into Track where you can start keeping tabs on where they are in your process. You can also add other investors suggested to you by your network, or that you come across elsewhere into your Track board (and we’ll pull in whatever data we can on them from Crunchbase for you).

Mobilise your network for intros

Mobilise your network for intros

Now that you have a target list, and you are aiming to reach out to key ones before you properly kick off the round, you’ll inevitably need a bit of help from your friends in getting a warm intro. One way to do this is to comb through an investor’s LinkedIn and see who pops up as a mutual contact and then request an intro from them. Bonus points if this contact is a founder of one of the startups in the investor’s portfolio. Another way is to share your target list of investors with your network and ask for help in getting connected and if your network can connect you (or have any other investors to suggest).

How to use Navigator for this

IntroSend allows you to quickly share the list of investors you still need an intro to with anyone in your network via email and they can identify the ones they’ll be able to intro you to directly in Navigator (and get a unique PitchSend link to share with them).

Suggested resources

Navigator Guide: Connecting to Investors breaks down the best ways to connect with potential investors so you don’t have to do it cold

Socialise with investors early and often

Often founders wait until they reach out to VCs for the first time. Sometimes this is unavoidable of course. Ideally, though the first interaction you have with them is when you are asking for capital. Instead, consider approaching potentially relevant VCs and investors well before you kick off the round. The best way to approach this is to find a warm intro to them (see below for more details) with the ask of wanting some feedback/advice on the business, market or technology you are working on. People tend to want to be helpful, and this is a great way to build a relationship, access their experience and feedback, and also make fundraise ask easier when the time comes.

How to use Navigator for this

Use your Track board to keep tabs on investors contact info and that you’ve made contact with them.

Suggested resources

Oversubscribed does a great job of how best to run this.

Our article Building Investor Relationships Early and Often also covers this topic.

Get early commitments from friendly sources

If you can, it’s always good to start a round out on the right foot before you even have a lead. Go to existing investors, advisors, friends and family that might be interested and get them to commit to the round.

How to use Navigator for this

Share your deck with your network via PitchSend links and use your Track board to keep tabs on where your conversations are with these friendly investors.

Raise

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork, time to go out to the market and get the thing done.

Reach out and gauge interest

Now is when you start going out to investors with the pitch and the fundraising ask. Ideally you’ll have built quite a few connections in the prep phase and you can fire off a bunch of friendly emails to VCs and angels. Inevitably, you’ll still need to build some new relationships at this stage as well. Now is when organisation and prioritisation is key. Fast, qualified no’s are the best possible no’s. For the rest, try and prioritise by which you think will be most likely to do the round, and importantly in the early stage who might play the role of lead investor and do one-third of the round, set the terms, and even perhaps help corral the rest of the round with you. Try to cut out timewasters here as quickly as possible - you don’t have time for meetings that aren’t going anywhere.

How to use Navigator for this

  • Track for keeping tabs on the stage your conversations are at with investors
  • PitchSend to gauge interest levels based on who is actually looking at the pitch, how often, and how much time they’ve spent on it
Nail down the lead investor

Identifying and closing a lead investor is the hardest and most critical part of your fundraise. Once you have that commitment, the rest tend to follow with less friction (though still not easy). For this reason, really focus your efforts on investors that are potential leads at the beginning of your round. Certain funds and investors are passive and so will only follow once someone is committed. By all means, build relationships with them early, but when you are in full-blown fundraise mode and needing to pin down a lead, leave the passive investors aside for the moment.

How to use Navigator for this

  • Search helps to identify your list of target investors
  • Track to keep tabs on where you are in your conversations with potential leads
  • PitchSend to get insight on who’s checking you out the most and to gather insights on where the strongest interest lies

Suggested resources

Founder Institute’s post The Who, Why and How: Lead Investors is a great resource on this.

Set a timeline for the rest

Once you have a lead and a bit of momentum this is a good time to go to the rest of your investor targets with the terms and size of the lead’s commitments. You can set a time-deadline and/or suggest everyone else can get in on a first come first served basis. This is your opportunity to create a bit of fear of missing out. As soon as someone is a yes, get them closing docs as soon as possible.

How to use Navigator for this

Refer to your Track board and follow up with the remaining investors who are still not a hard no.

Get your due diligence documents in order

Investors are going to want to do some due diligence on you. This includes major contracts, management accounts, employee CVs, and more. Create a Dropbox or Google Drive folder that you can share with investors when they ask for it (assuming of course you are keen to have that investor in the round). This list of what you’ll need may vary by investor, so try and anticipate what those docs will be.

Suggested resources

The Startup Due Diligence Checklist from VC List is a comprehensive list of those docs.

Close

The hardest bit is over, but you are nowhere near out of the woods. A lot of things can and will go wrong so keep driving forward and don’t lose any momentum.

Term sheets

Term sheets are the terms of the deal. This will likely be set by the lead investor, and the general terms will be the same for all investors. The lead and other investors will often have their own template. Sometimes in syndicated (ie no lead) the startup may be the one that draws this up. This will include valuations, type of equity, number of shares, price per share, and liquidation preference, as well as any other terms agreed between the founders and investors.

Suggested resources

Board resolution

The board will need to approve the share issuance. So, make sure your board is available and plan a meeting for this purpose.

Get the money in the bank

A deal isn’t complete until the money hits your account. Until this point so much can go wrong, so before you start counting the deal as complete ensure you have the cash in. Follow up quickly if the money hasn’t hit the account yet, and make sure the investors have the right bank details.

Celebrate

Quickly, you’ve spent an unholy amount of time on this tedious process and you deserve a soda or beer or wine or whatever your drink of choice. Then get back to work and try and ignore that you will likely be back at this in twelve months.

Ongoing

There are a few things you could and should be doing during and between rounds to make your life a bit easier.

Investor updates

Add all your current investors, as well as those in your target list to a regular investor update. Include things like key metrics, highlights, lowlights, product updates, new hires, and any asks you might have. Investors will want to help, and this is also a good opportunity to keep potential investors in the loop and engaged for a future round.

How to use Navigator for this

Put all your warm contacts from Track into an email list with your current investors and include them in your monthly investor update.

Suggested resources

Our investor update template is here - copy and use it yourself

Gather feedback, iterate and update your deck

The pitch deck is a living document. As soon as you think its finished its probably out of date again because inevitable everything is changing rapidly in the interim. Make sure you are incorporating feedback you are getting, adding the latest KPIs and numbers, and generally improving the readability and look and feel as often as you can. You’ll also want to do this periodically between rounds as the deck can be used to apply for accelerators or startup competitions, or be repurposed for sales purposes or as an intro deck.

How to use Navigator for this

  • PitchSend will give you analytics on which slides investors spend the most time, and where they drop off so you can optimise the content and order to reduce dropoff and increase engagement
  • Get your Assessment done and our team of experts will analyse and give actionable feedback on your deck and over investor proposition

Background Reading

There are a ton of resources out there, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. You’ll also notice a bit of overlap with these resources and our checklist as we’ve aggregated some of their ideas here.

 

👉 Oversubscribed - Buy the book for $4.99, it’s well worth it. Oversubscribed helps you plan for and execute a successful fundraise as quickly as possible. It’s a fairly long and comprehensive guide, but you can get through it quickly and keep referring back. Seriously, go and buy it (we don’t get a referral fee or anything for this).

👉 How to fundraise like a BOSS- Fred Destin, a founding partner at Stride VC, gives a great 8 minute no BS breakdown of how to run your round. Plus he ends it by suggesting you throw yourself a party.

👉 A Ridiculously Detailed Fundraising Guide - Another one from a VC, this time Eric Paley of Founder Collective. Similar to Fred’s but with slightly different insights and also well worth a read.