The end of every investor meeting always seems to end with the same thing;
“Let me know how I can be helpful”
“Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”
This is the common phrase, which is most times genuine, because everyone is always after being that added value investor. Going beyond the money, figuring out what someone can do to actually make a difference in the business. However it is usually met with “thanks”.
I have found that more times than not founders do not have an answer to this question. With all the things they have going on, the potential to get to the next meeting, and not wanting to take them up on the offer they say thanks and good day.
Let me be the first to say always have an ask. Most folks are in a position to help and you never know what could be on the other side of that ask. Founders usually have a laundry list of things they need to get done, and I say apply that to the investor to see if they can actually be helpful.
- Thanks for asking, I am looking for a front end developer that loves X
- Amazing, I am looking for an intro to [XXXX] co. right now for a partnership
- Funny you should ask, we need a great designer that can do [Y]
- That would be great, do you know anyone that has scaled a business like mine before that I should be speaking with?
- We would love to hire [amazing person] or someone like her, know anyone?
- Who have you met recently looking for their next opportunity that would be a good person to speak with?
- Do any of your portfolio companies need this right now?
The list goes on because the number of things you need in the early days/years is endless. The investor “dance” that happens should be about actually adding value and showing vs. telling how they can instrumentally help your company. Having this answer at the ready is also a good way to frame up the end of many (read: not investor) conversations. This is also a great exercise for founders to come up with the 2-3 things they really need as a business, and broadcast that to the world.
By bookending your meetings this way you can also have a clear set of action items and next steps, and see if people actually deliver on their promises. This is a great precursor to seeing how they behave and react when things get more serious in the future. It also is a net benefit to the company. As always your mileage may vary, but its a good place to end.Tags: Have An Ask