David B. Lerner

Dave Lerner, 3x Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Host of Venture Studio
Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Director of Columbia University Venture Lab, Blogger, Community Organizer, Golfer-in-Exile.

What Every Student Entrepreneur Needs to Know to Succeed (6) Relationships w/Investors

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Relationshipw-investors
This is part of my Series on Student Entrepreneurship

In the previous posts in this Series we established the mindset and awareness required, the immersion you need to inititate in your local startup ecosystemwhat you need to do to acquire subject matter expertisehow to develop a social media presence, and the importance of finding a mentor, all with the objective of greatly increasing your chances of success as an entrepreneur.

In the second post in this series I encouraged you to immerse yourself in your local startup ecosystem so as to get out of that "school bubble" and into the action.  I am going to elaborate here, specifically with regard to cultivating relationships with angel and venture capital investors.

**Before I continue, however, remember- overall your goal should be to form real and lasting relationships with quality people in your city's ecosystem and beyond. You're not just meeting people to transact with them! You'd be amazed how many people do this.**

OK, so with that caveat in mind, one layer of the ecosystem is of course comprised of investors and they are an important one. Whether your startup ends up requiring friends & family money, angel money or VC money is immaterial. Rest assured it will require some money and having real relationships with investors will be crucial whether you try to raise money from them in the future or not.

So how do you get to know investors in a natural way?

  • First, you need to identify them. One way to start is by checking out the Startup Genome, find your city or university page there and go through the lists/profiles of the various angels and VC's (who invest in your space).
  • Second, you should begin to familiarize yourself with their portfolio companies, their investment philosophy via their blogs and twitter streams and through this process identify a handful that you think you would have a natural rapport with.
  • You can then start commenting on their blogs (not pitching them mind you!) and start participating naturally in the dialogue. Share and learn!
  • Next you should identify where they are going to be speaking or what events they will be attending. Be there. 
  • Since you've been interacting with them on their blogs and twitter, etc., you'll have a natural way of saying hello and you can simply continue the virtual conversation you've been having in person.

So now you'll be developing real relationships with angels and VC's in your area. Remember, you are not pitching them. They are real people like you and often have a lot of experience and can be great sources of advice. It also just so happens that they invest in lines, not dots as Mark Suster likes to say. Get to know each other!

With this approach you'll be connected in no time. Let me know how it goes!  

 

For Part 7 of this Series, Click Here

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