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How to Build A Better Spreadsheet For Fundraising

Erin Wilson is a co-founder at hirepool.io, a CRM for the job seeker, on a mission to empower job seekers of all backgrounds.

Fundraising can be a daunting feat to overcome. In fact, people fail far more than they succeed. Of the more than 6 million startups that launch in the U.S. annually, less than 1% receive funding from angel or VC investors, according to data from Fundable. Knowing this and wanting to avoid common pitfalls, my co-founder and I asked several founders what’s been key to their fundraising success. One tactical piece of advice multiple sources shared was to compile a spreadsheet filled with high-quality potential investors.

So we did that, but perhaps a bit different than most people. We built a better spreadsheet for fundraising using Mattermark. More than a list of names we created a custom dashboard filled with rich data which enabled us to execute efficiently and effectively throughout the fundraising process.

Target Your Audience And Only Take Calls That Count

We wanted a tool that could provide value without having to </export> and </sort> a list of names. We needed to research venture capital firms but also be efficient with our time. Time is a precious commodity when you have limited resources. So, we took a structured approach to discovery and built a better spreadsheet as part of the process. The first step was identifying our target investors for said spreadsheet, and we did this using the following model:

  • Which stage do they typically invest?
  • What type of business models do they prefer to invest in?
  • What is their average investment?
  • How many investments has their firm made in the past year?
  • Are they geographically agnostic when it comes to their investments?
  • Which of their recent investments do they consider to be succeeding? Failing?

Let’s spend less time with firms that have little to no proven track record investing in our stage and space, and more time with those that appear to be actively investing as it relates to our situation. Researching hundreds of investors could have taken weeks.

With Mattermark, we discovered data in secs and filtered through investors before investing time on an initial call Click To Tweet

The image below captures the value of Mattermark while researching a potential investor Homebrew Ventures. We can quickly identify markers which fit our model such as their commitment to B2C (~40%) and early stage (Pre Series A majority), and even get an understanding of what “growth” looks like for their existing portfolio.

Be Better Prepared To Make Calls Count

Once the call is scheduled, the work continues. How do you stand out? Our goal on each call was to make the investor’s job easy. Once they’ve taken a minute to share their firm’s unique perspective, it’s on us to drive the conversation. The more we’re able to ask intelligent questions which indicate, “Hey, I’ve been here before,” the easier it is for an investor to envision giving us money and it working.

A key piece to this was understanding the investor’s behavior patterns and how much knowledge an investor had in our particular space. VC websites often mention their respective areas of focus. Some are narrow. Others are broad. They all say something different in the call than they do on their websites. I don’t think this is intentional but nonetheless we believe actions speak louder than words. While there was often a gap in their website and words, we used Mattermark to see their investment behavior breakdown including industry and business model which gave us critical insight into how to pitch our company. This helped us decide which benchmarks to share, which competitors to mention and which of their previous investments we could relate to.

For instance, when researching True Ventures, we quickly discovered that while their business model and stage distribution are similar to Homebrew, human resources does not fall into their top industries as it did with Homebrew (above). This level of visibility was extremely helpful in preparing for each call with prospective investors.

In Conclusion

Fundraising is hard work and requires a serious time investment. Make sure the time you invest is going to work which will make a difference in your outcomes. By building a better spreadsheet with Mattermark data, we spent more time on calls that mattered and gained valuable insights to  make each one of those calls count.

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© Mattermark 2018. Sources: Mattermark Research, Crunchbase, AngelList.
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