Can Better Meetings Increase a Startup’s Chances of Funding?

Apr 12, 2017     By Neya Abdi

Fundraising forces startups to put their best foot forward. Imagine the process of preparing your home for visitors multiplied by a thousand. Much like house guests can pick up on a tense environment, investors can spot when things aren’t running smoothly at a startup.

But unlike house guests, investors have something to lose from sticking around.

Every investor weighs different factors based on their interests and personality, but generally speaking they look at three key things: traction, your management team, and demand in the market. Meetings can help you address problems with all three.

Help You Meet Demand In The Market

An investor seeks solid evidence that people even want what you’re offering. If your company makes something that’s already on the market, you’d better be prepared to tell a wicked story about why your product is different.

This is challenging, but it isn’t impossible. Good meetings that are collaborative as opposed to derivative bring good ideas to the surface. An employee with the opportunity to share a seemingly small insight into a problem the competition has overlooked may spur a flurry of development that adds value to your existing product. A solid exchange of ideas between different individuals could lead to a strategy that targets an audience the competition hasn’t even considered.

To be fair, this isn’t meant to romanticize meetings. Brilliant “aha” moments don’t happen just because people are in the same room. Rather, these kinds of interactions can catalyze the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that is necessary to compete.

Help You Know Your Customers Well

Traction shows potential investors there are people actually using your service. So how can you win customers, keep them, and encourage them to spread the word?

Meet with them.

Contact your customers and schedule phone meetings (or in-person meetings, if possible) to discuss what they like about the product, what their remaining pain points are, and what they’d like to see changed. These kinds of conversation uncover issues your team may not have considered.

These meetings are especially important if you are a B2B company. B2B clients have a lot at stake because their purchasing decisions impact their organization and their job. Not only do they do a lot of research, they talk to people in their network to compare products. If potential clients hear good things about your company’s level of service, it can inspire the sort of trust-based, word-of-mouth marketing that is priceless.

Help Improve (or Protect) Your Team Dynamics

Another factor investors look at is the people. For one, they want to see that there’s a healthy mix of technical skill with business experience among the management team, but beyond resumes they’re also looking for signs of functionality.

The traditional route for dealing with a problem is to escalate it to the boss. But when you are the managers how you handle conflict, especially in the early days of your business, can make or break your company.

At the managerial level, you need people who are self-confident and persistent. At the same time, they also need a healthy level of humility and level-headedness to recognize when a strategy isn’t working. Your meetings should establish processes for conflict resolution and stress test your ability to work through startup challenges as a team.

Investors can sniff out dysfunction. Their money’s on the line. Using meetings to exchange ideas, protect your team dynamic, and engage with your customers will help you build a company worth betting on.

Meetings / Notes