How to find investors for a startup…quickly!

A recent report from Beauhurst and SFC Capital* reveals that it takes, on average, 15 months to find investors for a startup and close a first funding round. Small wonder that people say raising investment is time-consuming and a distraction! But almost all startups need investment at some point so how do you find investors for a startup quickly?

How to find investors for a startup
How to find investors for a startup…quickly!

Focused For Business runs Funding Accelerator to make it quicker and easier for startups to raise investment. Hatty Fawcett, the programme’s founder, asked graduates from the programme how they found investors for a startup. This “How to” guide is the result.

1. Be realistic

Ask any founder who has raised investment “How long did it take to raise investment?” and you’ll get the response “Longer than I thought!”.

Raising investment is time consuming. You have to treat a funding round like any project and make time for it. All the founders I spoke to recommended scheduling time in your diary every day for investor conversations and correspondence.  

If you want to raise funding, schedule time to make it happen.

2. Set a timeframe for your funding round

Raising investment is a distraction from running your business. You don’t want to prolong any distraction (and certainly not finding investors for a startup)! Being clear about when you want funding, aligning all your activity to that goal and minimising time-wasting activity is the key to success.

Focused For Business recommend its clients treat fund raising as a three month campaign. The first month is about preparing your investment opportunity – perfect the positioning, messages and all the documents investors will need. In the second month you want to focus on meeting investors. Aim to book at least 3 or 4 meetings a week. The final month is about corralling offers, completing due diligence and closing the round.

Keep focus by treating fund raising as a three month campaign.

3. Don’t waste time talking to the wrong investors

Investors, like startups, come in many shapes and sizes. When trying to find investors for a startup you need to segment all the available investors and focus on the ones that are most like to back your startup – based on your stage of development, sector and size of raise.

Don’t waste your time talking to Venture Capital (VCs) if you don’t yet have revenue, focus on angel investors and early-stage funds that do back pre-revenue startups. One of the challenges faced by VCs in particular, is that they need to keep their market knowledge and awareness of the competition up to date. They will often meet with startups in sectors they are interested in, even when they know they can’t investor in that startup at such an early stage. Whilst it may be flattering for a pre-revenue startup to get a meeting with a VC, it is very unlike to result in investment and therefore it is a distraction to be avoided!

Get clear which investors back startups at your stage and in your sector and focus on these.

4. How to find investors for a startup like yours

Having segmented the different types of investors, focus on reaching out to those investors that do back startups like yours.

Hugo Shephard, founder of Role Models recommends starting with your own network.

“I found my network was better [at delivering investment] than any angel network or introducers’ contact list.”

Statistically, it is most likely that your initial investment commitments will come from people who know you.

Angel networks can be a good place to find groups of investors – and the UK BAA provide a directory of UK angel networks. Be wary of events that are ill defined as there is a risk that you will end up pitching to investors who are not interested in your startup. 

Claire Ayres, co-founder of Twist Teas experienced this first hand

“Pitch events can be quite unfocused if an angel network doesn’t specialise by sector or stage of development. It can also be difficult to do any direct follow-up as the network’s are protective of their members’ contact data.”

There are an increasing number of online platforms that connect investors and founder, including Angel Investment Network, Connectd, Angel List, Gust and Crunchbase to name but a few. However, to get the best result from these platforms you need to commit to researching and reaching out to specific investors on an individual basis.

Knowing which investors are interested in startups like yours is what matters. There are a number of ways you can research this.

Sifted provides a curated list of angel investors but, like any list it can become outdated quite quickly.

Alternatively, if you can identify competitors or companies operating in a similar market to yours who have recently received investment, you can use a number of methods to find out who backed those businesses. You can look the company up on the Companies House website, or use databases like Beauhurst or PitchBook, to find the names of their investors. Armed with this information you can find for ways to be introduced to the investors.

Specialist accelerators, which are usually focused on a particular sector or stage of development are another way of getting introductions to appropriate investors. Funding Accelerator, for example, focuses on startups raising investment for the first time and makes introductions to investors who invest at pre-seed and seed stage.

There are lots of ways to find investors – but an introduction gets the best response.

5. Get an investor’s attention quickly

Having found suitable investors you want to get their attention quickly.

If you can’t get a personal introduction to your target investor, then personalise your approach. Make reference to what you know about them. For example, you might open a conversation with “I know you are passionate about….and have invested in ….” 

Having made a connection, lead with a piece of information that makes your startup standout. This could be strong revenue growth, a well-known company that is a key customer or third party endorsement of your product or service in the form of an industry award or customer feedback.

Personalise your outreach to investors.

6. Busy people won’t give you long to get to the point

Serious investors are busy people, they won’t give you long before they have made up their mind whether this opportunity is for them…or not! Focused For Business’ research shows that investors give you between two and five minutes before deciding whether to meet with a startup. In that time, they are looking for seven key pieces of information (7 Essentials that unlock startup equity investment) that allow them to assess whether this is an opportunity for them. It is why your executive summary is your most important investment document when it comes to investor outreach. Hugo Shepherd speaks to this point

“We spent a lot of time crafting our pitch messages – not just our pitch deck. We also used a graphic designer to help us convey our message visually. We received a lot of positive feedback on our pitch materials. Making a good first impression definitely helped us get meetings with investors.”

A well-crafted one page executive summary helps investors see the opportunity for themselves so they can make a decision to meet you.

7. Keep up momentum

When you have an investor “on the hook”, just like a fisherman, it is your job to reel the investor in. Do not expect – or wait for – an investor to take the initiative.

Once an investor has seen your one-pager and agreed they are interested in the opportunity, your aim should to book a meeting at which you can use your pitch deck to explain the opportunity in more detail. Be ready to divert from the flow of your pitch to respond and provide detail on the specific things that interest each investor. Some investors want to know about the team first, others the market opportunity in terms of USP, market size or competition.

If the meeting goes well you should expect to leave an investor with a detailed financial forecast which makes it easy to explore the commercials of the opportunity.

Different investors focus on different aspects of the deal, be ready to follow an investors interests.

8. Gauge interest and intent – not all investors are serious

“Serious investors make a decision quickly – usually within 2 or 3 calls. Either they like the business or they don’t”

This was Hugo Shephard’s experience. He cautions against investors who keep coming back with more and more questions.

It is your job to spot which investors are serious and which are just “kicking the tyres”.

Having your Term Sheet ready is a great way to sort out who is serious, and who isn’t. This is a non-binding document, but very useful in working out who is really interested in making an investment commitment.

Use a Term Sheet to work out who is serious about making an investment, and who isn’t.

9. Create FOMO

In order to negotiate the fairest deal for all parties, you want to attract more than one offer of investment. Ideally you want investors lining up to offer you more investment than you actually need. That puts you in the driving seat and allows you to negotiate terms.

To drive multiple investment commitments you need to be come skilled at using the progress you’ve made in the business to maximum effect. You want to use your successes and achievement to create a sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). By releasing news  – about a new signed customer contract, a new commitment from an investor, securing a lead investor – you show progress in the business and encourage those who haven’t yet committed to come off the fence and back your startup.

As Claire Ayres explains

 “We went back to investors that we had spoken to early in our investment round, but who had not committed to an investment, to update them on our progress. We used FOMO to allow us to double the investment we raised overall.“

Hugo Shephard followed suit

“Whenever a big investor came on board, I would send out an email to my investor database and use FOMO to re-open conversations with investors who hadn’t previously committed, or who were sitting on the fence, to see if they would follow the investor who had committed.”

Running a “rolling round”, such as SeedLegals SeedFast to bank commitments as they are made  whilst also keeping the round open, allows you to start spending to deliver more progress in your startup and thus creating a virtuous circle.

Go back to potential investors with updates as the story of your business (and funding round) develops.

10. Surround yourself with people on a similar journey

Raising investment is a tough and surprisingly lonely job. Being part of a community of founders as committed as you, not only gives you access to new insights, tips and insider knowledge of what is working and what is not, but it also helps you to keep motivated and can even makes the process of raising investment fun! Funding Accelerator and Startup Masterminds: Funding provide support for the funding journey.

Surround yourself with other founders who are raising to maintain your motivation.

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If you would like help to find investors for a startup, of if you would like to explore your funding options further, Book a Funding Clinic

* Seeding to Succeed: Beauhurst and SFC Capital, July 2021

Startup Meetup: Why traction speaks louder than words when raising equity investment

Investors look for “traction” when deciding whether or not to back a business – but what does that actually mean?

This interactive meetup brings together startup founders for a practical discussion on what investors mean by traction, and to share experiences of how best to evidence this to get investors “on the hook”. Together we’ll:

  • Uncover why “traction” speaks louder than words for investors
  • Discover the three elements which deliver “traction”
  • Explore ways in which you can evidence “traction” to quickly hook investors

This facilitated meetup will start with presented content to spark a conversation but will include time for you to ask specific questions and to share your experiences too. You will also have the opportunity to hear about resources that make it quicker and easier to raise investment.

We meet via Zoom – with cameras and microphones on – to share as a community. This is about you getting the answers you need – and offering support to those on a similar journey to you. Bring your questions, be generous in sharing your experience.

A Zoom login will be provided after you register and in a reminder email before the event. Places are limited to ensure a good interactive experience. Please book early to avoid disappointment and, if you can’t attend at the last minute, please let us know so that your place can be offered to someone else.

Reserve your free place here

Use the scroll bar to see all available dates. If booking panel doesn’t load you can reserve a place via Eventbrite

Facilitated by Hatty Fawcett

Hatty Fawcett, founder of Focused for Business, has been raising money for businesses and projects since she was eight. She has worked in three startups and raised £250,000 for her previous business (a marketplace). In addition to raising investment herself, Hatty managed some of the investments Kelly Hoppen made when Kelly was a “Dragon” on the TV show “Dragons Den”, making business angel investments. This gives Hatty a unique perspective on raising investment, with practical experience of having raised investment herself as a founder, but also understanding what angel investors look for when they back a business.

Hatty is on a mission to make it quicker and easier for founders to raise early-stage investment. Her vision is to see a level playing field when it comes to raising investment. In the last 12 months, Hatty has raised over £1 million for her clients, with individuals raising between £10K and £350K.

Hatty is a Regional Manager for Angels Den, a Talent Spotter for The Startup Funding Club (SFC) and works with all the main crowdfunding platforms. She is committed to giving founders the clarity, connections and confidence to attract a range of investment offers so that they choose the right offer for their situation.

What people say about Hatty

“Hatty’s meetup was like a one-stop shop for all the information I needed . Succinct, clear and full of ideas.”

“The Meetup was a very beneficial experience. It made me rethink our whole launch and fundraising strategy.”

“By the end of the Meetup everyone was contributing and helping each other. It was energising and motivating.”

“Hatty brings clarity and focus to the complexities surrounding raising investment.”

“It was useful to interact with the others and it’s reassuring to hear others’ stories of fundraising.”

“Hatty is a fountain of wisdom when it comes to raising investment.”

“Hatty’s tone and enthusiasm are very motivating.”

If the Eventbrite booking checkout does not appear, you can book your ticket direct on Eventbrite

How to get investors “on the hook”

Your business needs investment. You are out there networking and pitching like crazy but despite your best efforts investors remain elusive. It’s a familiar story. How do you get investors “on the hook”? The Allbright Academy which supports female entrepreneurs, approached Hatty Fawcett, Founder of Focused For Business and an AllBright Academy Ambassador, to ask her advice for finding, approaching and pitching to investors. Here Hatty shares her top tips.

Ten tips for getting investors "on the hook"

Always be ready to pitch

Investors can be almost anyone. When I raised investment for my business my investors included customers, suppliers, professional investors and even people who knew me through a shared hobby. The point is, almost anyone can be an investor, so you need to be ready to pitch at any point.

Approach people you know first – people who see firsthand the hard work you are putting into your business. Why not approach friends, family, employers, suppliers to the business and even your customers. They can help you get an investment round started. It’s a lot easier to attract new investors when you already have your first few on board!

Keep it short and sweet

Professional investors – sometimes called Business Angels – tend to be busy people; it can be difficult to find these people and even harder to get their attention. You will need to have a short pitch (sometimes called an “elevator pitch”) that you can use – in either written or spoken form – to quickly give investors an introduction to your business, giving them enough information to pique their interest.

Get an introduction

It is often easier to get a meeting with a business angel if you have a mutual connection to introduce you. If you have someone in mind that you’d like to approach, use your network (and LinkedIn) to try and find someone that can make that introduction. If you’re not sure who you want to approach, another way of getting started is to reach out to your network explaining what you are doing and asking for any suggestions they have as to potential investors.

Have a short prepared summary

A one-page executive summary of the investment opportunity (not of your business plan) is a key tool in your investor toolkit. Written well, this should give investors the information they need to make a decision as to whether this is an opportunity for them. Whatever you do, don’t send your pitch deck. A pitch deck should be presented and isn’t a standalone introduction to your business, save that for when you actually meet the investor.

All investors are individuals – they have their own particular interests, focus and areas of activity. Professional investors (such as business angels, private offices and equity funds) will often not agree to meet you – or perhaps even to talk to you – until they have seen something of the opportunity first.


Hatty Fawcett

Arrange a meeting

Don’t expect professional investors to back you after just one conversation. They will need to get to know you and your business. This is best done face-to-face so your initial aim should be to get a meeting or a skype session in the diary.

Follow up every lead

Professional investors are busy people. Don’t assume they will get back to you. You need to take the initiative and keep the conversation alive by following up with them. After every conversation, meeting or pitch, schedule time to follow-up with the people you have spoken to and get their feedback on your investment opportunity. Ask if they have any questions or concerns and – of course – whether they are interested in investing.

Keep the story moving

Professional investors back businesses that are going places, so you need to
demonstrate that your business is evolving and growing every day. When following up with a business angel be ready with a juicy piece of new information that demonstrates your business is continuing to grow. This could be news that you have secured a new contract, delivered a key partnership, or the results of a new marketing campaign.

Don’t take “no” personally

Not everyone you talk to will back your business. Get used to hearing the word “no” and moving on. It’s better to know that someone isn’t interested in your opportunity than to waste time talking to them when they have no intention of investing. Move on!

Ask for feedback

Use every interaction as a chance to learn something. Ask everyone you speak to for feedback – even if they are not interested in investing. Their feedback can improve your understanding of how others perceive your business and can help you adapt your positioning, if necessary. Ask for help from the people you speak to too – who do they know who would be interested in this opportunity? Will they introduce you?

Positivity is key

Raising investment is hard work. It can feel relentless and if you have a run of “nos” it can bruise your confidence. Do what it takes to stay positive and keep your energy up – take an afternoon off and do something you love to boost your morale. Then get back to it, refreshed, revitalised and believing good things come to those who persevere!

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If you would like further help in preparing for investment, Hatty Fawcett runs a series of online masterclasses designed to give you the tools and you need to raise investment from crowdfunding or business angels. The masterclasses are focused, practical and confidence building:
How to write an executive summary that attracts investors
How to find and win investors
How to create a business valuation that gets your start-up funded

How to find cornerstone investors

In many ways, raising investment is a confidence game. Not only will investors want to get to know the founding team and the business plan so that they have confidence in your abilities, but investors will look for external validation too. They may hold back on committing to investing until they see that someone else believes in the idea sufficiently to invest in it. Once you have your first investor – or your cornerstone investment – it becomes easier to raise the remainder of the investment. But how do you find your first investor? It can feel like a catch 22 situation! Hatty Fawcett of Focused For Business asked four founders who have recently raised – or are in the process of raising – investment how they went about it.


Where did you find your investors?

It can be a daunting task, wondering where you will find investors but these founders were full of practical suggestions.

Kevin Jackson, founder of Blueprints an investment platform for economic development projects, put it frankly

“All the years of experience and contacts have to be used. You have to go back to everyone. Everyone you’ve ever met – if they aren’t investors they will know someone who is, get that introduction too.”

Shon Alam, founder of Bidweg which offers a new way to exchange foreign currency, also left no stone unturned in his search for investment

“I tried all the standard stuff you would expect banks, business startup loans, family, private equity and crowdfunding.”

Marco Scotti, founder of Figaroo which allows members to book and share VIP tables in the best nightclubs worldwide, talked more specifically about the channels he used to find investors

“I used LinkedIn, I approached personal connections and asked for introductions, I went on financial TV shows, got into the financial newspapers and spoke at lots of events.”

All the founders agreed that LinkedIn was key, as were personal introductions. Ian Dibb, founder of Once I’ve Gone which ensures family members and guardians have access to vital documents, insurance policies and files once their loved ones have passed, put it like this

“A warm introduction really does make things easier, and will normally get you a phone call. It’s then up to you to get a meeting with them.”

How do you opening the conversation with investors?

Personal connections are useful not just in finding investors but in actually opening the conversation with them too. All the founders I interviewed had found key investors as a result of an introduction – Shon and Ian both found Chairman that way too.

Kevin stresses the importance of the phone in making first contact with investors, and he advises against relying on email.

“If you are passionate about your product, pick up the phone and do a good pitch. You will get there. It’s all about people connecting with people!”

Once you’ve made initial contact you will need to supply supporting documentation. Marco recommends

“Be investment ready! That means having a performing deck, a clear “ask” and valuation and being ready to explain how you will use the funds you raise to achieve clear goals.”

Shon agrees and suggests you also need a good dose of resilience

“You’ll need all the usual stuff – business plan, video, meeting after meeting. Tugging your forelock and walking around with a permanent grin on your face, trying to sound intelligent and trying to get investors to understand the concept, what makes you different, etc. etc. etc. Investors balk at anything and everything!”

But whilst the process of talking to investor after investor can try the patience of a saint, Shon urges keeping the faith – you never know when you will have that magical conversation that changes everything. For Shon it was recruiting his chairman

“Our Chair has been great at helping to raise funds. I meet him in Costa Coffee and within 30 secs he said “Yep got it.” – and we haven’t looked back.”

How to overcome barriers when talking to investors

There is no doubt that the constant conversations with investors can feel like hardwork. You will need self-belief, persistence and energy.

I asked Marco what he found the hardest about the process and how he overcame this. His answer was simple and telling

“To overcome the amount of no. You just have to keep doing that”

Shon talks of having to overcome his shyness and to put aside being in awe – or afraid – of the people he was speaking to

“You can get intimidated by these industry leaders, but the goo goo eyes went after the second round of meets and you just accept it as a normal part of the day and business. Don’t be frightened, or they will eat you up! Remember they are only people.”

Ian talks about the importance of personalising things where ever possible

“Any decent investors will receive 100’s of approaches each week from the next ‘Big Thing’, so it’s hard to get their attention. What we have found is that making the connection request on Linkedin really personal to the investor, will normally get the investor to connect.  Focus on getting them interested enough to have a phone call or meeting.”

What Kevin found hardest was understanding exactly what investors were looking for. He started by stressing how quickly the business could scale but it turned out investors were more interested in what the business had already achieved. Getting the story right and stressing the facts of what had been achieved to date was the key to overcoming investors’ barriers.

And finally…Top Tips for winning investors

Each of the founders I interviewed had an interesting – and sometimes surprising – piece of advice to offer for winning investors.

Kevin offered a practical suggestion which led to a surprising outcome. He instigated a weekly investor telephone get-together every Friday at 5pm. On one session he asked each investor to pick up the phone and speak to one contact explaining why they had backed the business and why they thought it would interest their contact. That exercise resulted in an investment of £150K that afternoon. As Kevin put it

“The right pitch to the right person will release the money.”

Marco agreed

“When you clearly present your company, with no ego, just as an excellent investment vehicle, investors will come to you and not the opposite.”

Shon and Ian both stressed that it isn’t just the money that is important. As Shon put it

“It’s definitely as much about the chemistry as about the money. If you can’t get on with your investor at this crucial startup phase, then you are in trouble.”

Ian agreed with Shon

“We have walked away from a couple of investors as we felt that they were not the right fit for the company. At the time it was hard, but we fully believe that it’s the right thing for the company in the long run.”

Finding your cornerstone investment – or your lead investor – takes hard work and persistence but making sure you are “investor ready”, reaching out to all your contacts and making personal requests are three key steps that deliver results. Good luck!

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If you want help in finding investors, building a relationship with them and closing an investment deal then take a look at the no nonsense online masterclass “How to find and win investors”. It provides
inspiration and practical step-by-step advice on where to find investors, how to get their attention and offers a proven process for building relationships with investors that deliver investment commitments. Read more about the masterclass