Previously I have discussed how to use a sales funnel to get customers or to get funded. As you learned from that post, one key element to success in these endeavours is having a large amount of qualified leads. But this can be difficult. Finding new customers or potential investors is sometimes akin to looking for a needle in a haystack.

In the true spirit of pay-it-forward, a few years back someone started a google sheet of investors in Europe. They then shared that list openly. Slowly, yet surely, others contributed. Finally, the team over at TechStars took it over and made it even more visible.

The database contains quality details, such as each investors’…

  1. basic details such as name and website url.
  2. typical stage that they invest in (pre-seed, seed, series A, series B)
  3. geographic focus (to note, some invest outside of Europe)
  4. sector focus (eg. IoT, Fintech, etc)
  5. type (VC, angel club, etc)
  6. fund close dates i.e. when they raised their own cash

You can view the sheet here.

Needless to say this is a goldmine of information. But with over half a thousand investors, figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. To be effective in your efforts, I recommend these pro tips from Jens Lapinski, Managing Director of the Techstars Metro Accelerator for Hospitality. In this blog he recommends that you take the following steps:

  1. Make a copy of the list
  2. Remove all investors who are not investing at your stage (e.g. you are raising a seed round and they only do Series A and Series B rounds)
  3. Remove all investors who are only investing in specific geographies you are not in (e.g. they invest in Scandinavian companies and you are a US founder living in Germany)
  4. Remove all investors who are only investing in specific industries you are not in (e.g. you are an e-commerce company and they only invest in cleantech)

Lapinski continues by suggesting that you should end up with between 50 and 100 potentials. From there the key is to get introductions. Do the research to see who works at these firms and to see if you have any 1st or 2nd degree connections with them. Once you find your mutual connections, reach out and ask if they will put you in touch with them. Investors are more receptive to people they have been introduced to through mutual friends.

If you’ve gone through a startup accelerator, you will have already been given access to a large group of VCs and angels. This happens either through the MD of your program, or through Demo Day. The Techstars google sheet of investors allows you to expand your leads beyond the one you gained through your program network, something much needed for founders fundraising.