Funding Pipeline CRM
No investor left behind
How to manage your investor pipeline
Think back, if you will, to when you first started your scaleup.
It might have been just you at a desk with nothing but a computer, a mobile phone, and a dream.
What did you use back then to track prospective customers and investors? You might have relied on a stack of post its or flagged emails in your inbox.
While that might have done the job for you then, you need something more concrete when tracking 200+ VC companies and millions of dollars of potential investment.
In this playbook, we’ll look at how you can keep on top of your pipeline management and make sure every investor you target is accounted for.
Why an investor pipeline is so important
Getting organised when it comes to investment will not only make the fundraising process more efficient and save time, but also save your sanity.
Why do you think so many famous entrepreneurs end up getting hair transplants? Series B funding is stressful AF.
It also makes it easier to update as you go. When you get a hard pass or another meeting, you can make sure everyone is up to date with the latest developments.
Find the right tools for the job
There are many customer relationship management (CRM) systems out there. Some good, some bad. Most of them eye-wateringly expensive.
If you’re already using them in your business and you want to get your money’s worth when it comes to investor pipeline management – go for it. In my opinion though, they’re overkill.
My tool of choice? Google Sheets. It’s customisable, you can share it with your team and best of all… it’s free! Ideal if you’re trying to manage your runway.
Excel is alright, but it’s not as good for collaboration – unless you have the most up-to-date version or stash it somewhere like OneDrive or Dropbox.
When you’ve decided on what tool you’re using, you need to ensure you have one master file. The more documents you have, the harder it will be to keep them updated.
Next, you need to populate it with your VC target list. Not got this far yet? You might want to work on that first.
Make sure your document is clear
I’m not going to lie; this document will become very substantial very quickly, especially if you’ve got 200 VCs to pitch to.
By planning your spreadsheet ahead of time, you’re going to make life a lot easier.
Think of the funnel you want to use and apply that to the document – you want to be able to track investors as they move through (or out) of the funnel.
LINK TO SLIDE 21 HERE
It’s okay to have investors on separate sheets, as long as they are in the same workbook. That way, everything’s in one place, and you can search across the document as appropriate.
I’d recommend having a summary view of your pipeline so you can see what’s going on at a glance. This makes it easier to give an immediate answer if you get an unexpected call from a board member.
Check with your finance or IT team and see if they know any AutoSum wizardry that will save time.
Track prospect ‘warmth’
By identifying your hot and cold leads, you’ll have more of an insight into how to pitch to them. For example, you’ll want to introduce your business to a cold lead who hasn’t heard of you, while you want a hot lead to see examples of your success.
LINK TO SLIDE 31
The good news? You can easily do this in your pipeline document.
LINK TO SLIDE 32
Always stay up to date
Many founders think once they’ve cut and pasted their investor info into a Google Sheet, the job’s done.
You need to keep your pipeline up to date. A three-month-old spreadsheet is no use to anyone. It’s not going to take long at all – two minutes after the pitch ends and when you’ve read your emails.
Get in a routine, and it makes things a lot easier – trust me here.
Crap at staying on top of things? It’s okay to delegate to someone who is better at admin, like your Chief of Staff or Founder’s Associate.
However - you still need to keep them up to speed with what’s going on and bring them in on meetings. Otherwise, you’re back at square one.
Keep your board in the loop
Your board will want to know what’s going on, and keeping your pipeline updated will mean fewer awkward pauses during your meetings.
It’s always good to send email updates so everyone is on the same wavelength. Top-level and biweekly are fine. They don’t need to know the nitty-gritty.
In summary: a good pipeline tracker can make life 10x less painful
A pipeline tracker may sound like a lot of admin. However, get it right first-time, keep it up to date, and you’ll make the fundraising process less of a hassle.
Need a little extra help with your tracking? Go on then…
I have a VC pipeline tracker tool available on my website. It’s a tried and tested tool which I’ve used for tracking Pre-A+ fundraising in the past.
It's editbale so you can change the colour scheme if you like – I honestly don’t mind. Okay, maybe a little. Don’t judge me.
In the next article, we’ll be looking at how to reach out to a prospective investor. How many emails and phone calls are too many? Let’s find out together.
A practical guide how to manage the pipeline of potential investors in your start-up. From Jonathan Bullock, ex Google Chief of staff & SoftBank COO