New managers looking to raise funds from LPs face many challenges and obstacles. Even if one does have an extensive network within venture capital, fundraising can be difficult. Though leveraging your internal network is one of the primary means of fundraising, cold outreach campaigns can be a very successful supplementary tool to build your network if implemented in the proper manner. In fact, even seasoned fund managers take on the act of cold outreaching to build their networks with potential LPs on occasion. As this is a brilliant way of expanding your network within the venture industry, it is something new managers might care to master. This article will give you a comprehensive guide to finding LPs and conducting cold outreach.
When conducting cold outreach, it is important to follow the guidance regarding general solicitation. Note that the goal here is not to advertise your fund to the public / the masses, but rather develop means to build long-term relationships with potential LPs.
Find the Right LPS
To find the right LPs for your fund, it will be beneficial understand the profile of investors you would like within your fund. This can depend on several factors such as region, stage, and sector of focus, to name a few. Make sure that you focus on highly relevant individuals with the capacity to invest in your fund. In order to find the right LPs to focus on, we advise that you focus on the correct type of investor. We have outlined the most prominent investors in new fund managers in our article ‘The Best LPs for New VC Firms’. To summarize, as a new fund manager, focusing on High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) as well as Family Offices can yield the best results, as both of these investors are typically the most likely to back you.
When creating the profile of investors you think are most likely to come into your closing, you can ask yourself some basic questions. For example, are they domain experts in your sector? Have they had any exposure to Venture Capital in the past? Are they sophisticated investors? Can they meet your minimum ticket size? Can they add value to the fund and your portfolio companies? When answering these questions, you will better understand your investors and, in turn, can be laser-focused only on relevant LPs. This research will also increase the odds of those individuals coming into the fund’s closing as you’ve taken the time to research their relevancy and can demonstrate it in your initial messaging.
Now that you know what your ideal investor looks like, you may be wondering how you will find them on the internet. LPs can be elusive, and as previously mentioned, often do not publicly advertise their investment status or strategies. Without a clear plan, you will quickly discover that finding LPs on the internet can be akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. Mastering Boolean operators can be crucial when combined with X-Ray search queries and save you hours of aimless browsing.
Emphasize your focus on HNWI and Family Offices, including exited founders, angel investors, and wealthy individuals in your sector of focus. Be sure to continually refine your search queries based on your conversations and levels of success. Perhaps your targeting should include / exclude specific keywords; be vigilant in regularly updating and improving your strategy while keeping a record of your outreach and meetings.
Google Search Example
Boolean search strings are logical statements used to find specific information in terms of search. Knowing how to utilize Google X-Ray search can be a potent tool for finding LPs. Google X-Ray search utilizes ‘Boolean statements’ to make this possible. For example, searching for the sentence “LPs in Venture Capital” can trigger many different variations and results which may not be relevant.
Boolean statements such as the ‘Site:‘ search term will enable you to search for results only from a specific website. With this, you can specifically search sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. Other functional terms such as (AND), (OR), and (-)(NOT) can be beneficial when combined with the ‘Site:‘ and ‘Location:‘ search terms. An example of a helpful search string when fundraising can be:
Site: linkedin.com (AND) Location: “United States” (AND) “Angel Investor” (OR) “Limited Partner” -“Consult*”
The query in this example will only return results from LinkedIn.com within the United States. Secondly, the results will feature the exact people with ‘Angel Investor‘ or ‘Limited Partner’ in their profiles. The (–) expression will exclude any results that start with the phrase “Consult” which looks to remove irrelevant words such as consultant, consulting …etc. from the query.
LinkedIn Search Example
Similarly, you can use the same Boolean Strings on LinkedIn to find people of interest. This is a great tool when looking for connectors to LPs and asking for introductions. For example, when searching on LinkedIn, you can filter the results to 1st and 2nd connections. Additionally, you can limit your search to a particular region or country by selecting the desired geography in the ‘locations’ selection box. You can then input a search query such as into LinkedIn search:
“Limited Partner” OR “LP” AND “Investor” AND “VC” -“Associate” -“Analyst” -“Principal” -“Advisor”
This particular search term looks for those with the phrases Limited Partner or LP, which also has the words Investor and VC within their profiles, while looking to exclude keywords such as Associate, Analyst, Principal, and Advisor.
It is advised that you create and refine your own queries to meet your fundraising needs. For example, if you are looking for investors and new connections in emerging markets, adding the keyword, “emerging” can be helpful. As previously mentioned, constantly updating your CRM system can be beneficial to keep track of your progress.
When planning to reach out to potential LPs, you can check to see if you have existing mutual connections with them. If you do, referring to our “Utilizing Connectors” guide can be helpful in leveraging your existing relationships for ‘warm introductions.’
In the cases where you do not have any relationships to leverage, you may want to continue with planning a cold outreach campaign. To achieve the maximum engagement possible, look to strategize your messaging accordingly and consider the objective of each email and call to action. For example, what action are you looking to incite via your email? Typically, this can be to schedule a meeting or review your deck.
It is extremely valuable and prudent to conduct a specific and personalized outreach campaign instead of the ‘spray and pray’ model, aiming for a generic message to a broader audience. When doing so also remember to not advertise your fund as this will be deemed as general solicitation. Instead, it would help if you opted to be like a sniper in fundraising for your new fund. This means that you look to pinpoint potential LPs that are most likely to invest in your fund and tailor your outreach to them in a personalized way to naturally build a rapport and relationship. The data suggests that “spammy” un-personalized messages do not elicit a response from investors.
Therefore, you can strive to make your messaging relevant to the person you reach out to. Remember, the more personalized your email, the higher the chance of a reply. However, this does not mean that you should spend a disproportionate period researching each potential LP. Have they recently invested in a similar fund, or are they an expert in your sector? Perhaps highlight a relevant achievement or experience or other reasons they might be interested in your fund.
In writing your message, keep it concise and to the point. VC Lab’s Accelerator Pre-Curriculum Thesis can be helpful to shorten your fund thesis to a digestible sentence, which is beneficial for a cold email or message. Try to share critical information about your fund and seek to find out if there is an alignment with the investor’s strategy. To run an efficient fundraising campaign, you can seek to ascertain if the LP’s investment strategy permits them to invest in your fund. Additionally, think about the subject line of your email, as this is a huge determining factor of LPs opening your email. If LPs do not open your email, they cannot read your message, so spend an appropriate amount of time on your subject line.
This content is provided by VC Lab, the venture capital accelerator.
The free 16 week VC Lab program provides guidance, structure and a network to complete a fund closing in 6 months or less. Since mid 2020, VC Lab has helped launch over 100 venture capital firms around the world.