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How to Find Limited Partners: Conducting ‘Cold Outreach’

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 InvestororLimited 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.

Planning

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.

Messaging

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.

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How to Find Limited Partners: Utilizing Connectors

A connector is a person who can give you warm introductions to relevant potential investors in your fund. Typically, connectors have existing relationships with wealthy individuals, and as such, they can introduce many potential investors to you. Warm introductions usually have a higher success rate, therefore utilizing connectors can be a very powerful tool. These connectors can be exited Founders, Venture Partners, other General Partners, Limited Partners, and general High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs). By utilizing connectors, you can leverage more nodes in the network and drastically increase your exposure to potential investors, consequently further boosting your chances of closing your first fund successfully.  

Types of Connectors

Founders

Successful and exited startup Founders can be a good resource for new fund managers, as such Founders’ opinions are incredibly valuable to LPsSpeaking with VC LabCourt LorenziniLP in over 15 VC firms and Co-Founder of DocuSign, shares that he often speaks with Founders of warehoused deals to aid his decision-making. During his deliberation process to finance a new fund manager, much like many LPs, he too looks to ascertain why Founders chose to work with you over other VCs. Consequently, getting references and introductions from Founders who have had significant markups can go a long way to impressing any potential LPs. Many LPs in Venture Capital firms are also direct investors in startups.

It is highly advantageous to have a list of such Founders to call upon since most exited Founders are wealthy and more comfortable with the asset class than most; therefore, they may be willing to invest in your fund themselves. More often than not, successful Founders may also have great relationships and a direct line of communication with HNWIs and Family Offices and can potentially connect you to others who might be interested in becoming an LP in your fund. 

If you do not have a vast network, providing value to Founders is a great long-term strategy to build these relationships. Note that this can take quite some time, though it is advisable to start developing your network as soon as possible. You can add value to a startup in equal parts, both as an investor and an advisor to the company. Such acts will enable you to build a deep-rooted network within VC and can expedite fundraising in the future.

Other VCs

Other General Partners and Venture Capitalists can also prove to be a great source and means of meeting new Limited Partners. Once again, it would be best if you looked to leverage your network and get introduced to Limited Partners. For example, if you attend VC Lab, you can discuss the matter with your cohort peers and work towards a mutually beneficial outcome. One way you can do this is to be open with your LPs and give introductions to other General Partners. When making introductions and asking for them, make sure that all parties have opted into the introduction and you follow the expected etiquette. It’s often best to practice making this as less transactional as possible and optimizing to provide value to all parties involved

Venture Partners

A Venture Partner is a well-networked strategic partner that typically does not reside within the Venture Capital firm. As such, they are a valuable resource for NextGen VCs in multiple functions, one being fundraising. These terms are outlined in the Venture Partner Agreement and can be modified to suit both parties. You can adjust levels of commitment from the Venture Partner and agree upon fair compensation and commission for the results they produce via carry in the fund

Therefore, as a new manager of a Venture Capital firm, it can be highly beneficial to make tactical alliances with Venture Partners. LPs too can look positively to such individuals who can share their expertise with the firm and both source deals as well as help you fundraise. Venture Partners are increasingly becoming the new source of labor in Venture Capital and are proving to be extremely valuable to NextGen VCs and are something you can consider utilizing.

Approach 

When looking for potential LPs, you can refer to our ‘Conducting Cold Outreach guide to help you find them on the internet. Specifically, you can utilize LinkedIn and search for relevant 2nd-degree connections in your desired region. When searching for limited partners, you can adopt a sound CRM system to track your process and leads. This CRM system can be a spreadsheet or specifically tailored softwareNote your relevant existing connections to the potential LPs you want to engage with during the process. For example, if an ex-colleague is a mutual connection, you can make a note of that in your CRM to the particular LP, as you will reach out to your references in the near future for an introduction. 

Before reaching out to your connections for introductions, you can research why each LP is relevant to your fund. Look for pertinent qualifiers that make them suitable. For example, if they have previously invested in fund managers with a similar focus / sector or in the pre-seed to seed stage. This research will make your ask more compelling as you can demonstrate your knowledge in your messaging to your connection. By such a demonstration, you give connectors confidence that you too may be a person of interest to the investor and worthy of connecting.

Messaging

Nathan Beckord, CEO, and Founder of Foundersuite, recommends that when messaging your connections, you place emphasis and on your messaging, both in the question you ask and the knowledge you demonstrate. The typical “Is there anyone I should speak with?” question does not elicit a response from connectors. If you do not know what you are looking for, neither will others. Instead, Nathan recommends you utilize your research on LPs and demonstrate your knowledge of them in your outreach to connectors. The goal here is to invoke a positive response by having a clear ‘ask’ and establishing the investor’s pertinence

For example, you may ask for an introduction to a list of 4 potential investors from one particular connector. It will help if you explain why each specific investor is relevant to your fund in your messaging to the connector.

As an example, in your outreach, you can mention:

John Doe – has previously invested in a pre-seed stage VC firm in our area of focus

Joe Bloggs – states in his profile that he is looking to invest in new fund managers

Jess Schmoe – has spoken about our area of focus extensively and has relevant experience

Jane Smith – is a co-investor in one of our warehoused deals

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.

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How to Find Limited Partners: Leveraging Your Network

Launching a VC firm can be a demanding undertaking. New fund managers face many challenges, including fundraising and finding new LPs. Even with a vast network of investors, fundraising can prove to be a challenging task, so the process can become more arduous without deep-rooted connections in Venture Capital.

Difficulties can arise as many LPs prefer to stay anonymous and do not publicly share their investment status’, objectives, or activities. In our ‘How to Find LPs’ series, we guide new fund managers to leverage and expand their networks. This article will briefly outline ways to leverage your existing network and offer some ways to gradually grow your connections within Venture Capital. When doing so, it would be advisable that fund managers care to avoid general solicitation.

Leveraging Your Network

To run a successful fundraising campaign, it is recommended that you and your partners engage with your network of GPs, Founders, friends, and family. Typically this will be the primary source of your fundraising efforts if you have a vast network. We find that the amount you can raise from your internal network is a significant determinant of your total fund size. Therefore, we advise that you multiply your hard commitments from your inner network by a factor of 10 to find your optimal fund size. Refer to VC Lab’s free Network Evaluation Template spreadsheet for guidance on estimating your ideal fund size.

Connectors

One of the best ways to meet new Limited Partners is by utilizing existing relationships within your firm to those who can connect you to potential investors. Connectors are typically well-connected individuals within Venture Capital who can open their networks to enable you to fundraise efficiently. They can become one of your greatest assets when fundraising.

Connectors allow you to leverage and add more nodes to your network and exponentially increase your ability to meet and raise capital from Limited Partners. These can be Founders, other Venture CapitalistsLimited Partners, and anyone who can connect you to a pool of High-Net-Worth Individuals (HNWIs) that are willing to invest in the asset class.  

Refer to our guide on ‘Utilizing Connectors‘ for a comprehensive breakdown to mastering this powerful fundraising method.

Events and Conferences

Events and conferences are a relatively good way to expand your network. However, your primary use of venture conferences is usually to pitch to your LPs who have made some level of commitment. Though conferences such as Slush, TechCrunch Disrupt, South by South West, and RAISE can be a great medium for pitching LPs, it would be a sub-optimal strategy to attend them for the sole purpose of finding new LPs. This is a costly mistake made by some new fund managers and can divert them from their fundraising efforts. As stated before, a large bulk of your investors typically come through 1st and 2nd-degree connections you have as well as your close acquaintances, so this can be your initial area of focus.

These conferences will play a part in your fundraising process, though it will be much later when you have found a significant amount of LPs and are in the process of pitching. When you have substantial interest from LPs, you can refer to our ‘How to Pitch Limited Partners’ article, which shines a light on this process and guides you in pitching these LPs.  

 

Cold Outreach

Even when you are not fundraising, you can aspire to expand your network and build new relationships. Cold outreach can be an effective way to do this and is utilized by some of the most seasoned Venture Capitalists. The caveat is that running a cold outreach campaign can be meaningless unless implemented correctly. In your cold outreach, you can target HNWI and Family Offices, as typically, they are the most suited investors for new fund managers. This is outlined in our article “The Best LPs for New Fund Managers“. Typically, large institutional investors and endowments do not invest in new fund managers who manage small funds. Therefore it is un-optimal for you to focus your efforts in building long-term relationships there.

When focusing on HNWIs and Family Offices, you can be very particular in whom you target and your messaging as to not generally solicit. Remember that the goal here is to build long-term relationships and not advertise your fund to the masses. As previously mentioned, LPs can be very illusive and hard to find on the internet. To master the process of finding new LPs and converting them, refer to our other guide in our How to Find LPs series on ‘Conducting Cold Outreach.

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 83 venture capital firms around the world.