Access to (“the best”) investors

Startupdetector CEO, Arnas Bräutigam

I had the pleasure of hooking up with Arnas Bräutigam the CEO of startupdetector in Berlin this week.

Arnas and I met through LinkedIn and have had some good dialogues since. We at Maersk Growth are evaluating the startupdetector product to see if it can help us source and qualify our leads in the German start up scene even better. We also decided to meet as a follow-up on a recent medium post I made about network from the investor angle, Access to the best deals. But as Arnas pointed out what about the first-time entrepreneurs that does not have access to the investor network. What should they do?
We discussed back and forth on the matter and there are multiple ways of how to go about it so that your startup gets exposed to the ecosystem and also who you should chose to work with.

With respect to exposure there are a set of must do’s:
Make sure your company is present on Crunchbase
Your LinkedIn is set up in a professional way, get help if you don’t know how to.
Share your thoughts and opinions:

o At conferences
o Write an article on Medium
o Participate at startup pitch days

And when it comes to what Investors to look for then do your homework. Find the investors that invest in your geography, within the sector as a first. But remember that you have to work with each other for at least the next 7 years. It must be someone that you like and that can help you scale your company. How are they connected and is that all they are? I’m a very firm believer in that Industry investors can leapfrog your development dramatically and hence be a good and solid partner in any investment.

For very early stage startups of first-time entrepreneurs it is advisable to find angel investors first instead of directly aiming for big venture capital. Angel investors do not only provide the amounts of cash necessary to fund your lean early stage needs, but they also provide you with their industry (and later probably also investor) network. An angel investment is a very positive indicator for VCs. It means, that you must be onto something that should be worth looking at more closely.
Be realistic that not every angel is going to invest in your startup. But every email exchange or personal meeting will give you important feedback. Secondly, do not be afraid to ask if the angel would pass you on to relevant contacts in their network. Angels typically do not invest alone, so they do know other angels that they have co-invested with in the past or that they just know from other occasions. A warm intro from one angel to another is worth so much!

Tips to find relevant angel investors:
Check your country’s company house or commercial register — the institution that keeps all the records of the shareholders of every company.
Research 10 startups that are broadly in your field, but not direct competitors, which you know already have external investors.
Download the shareholder lists of these companies, which will include the names of all their investors. The investors might be people or holding companies, both of which you can probably identify using your country’s company database as well as LinkedIn.
Once identified, try to get an intro through a mutual connection. If you do not see an avenue there, send them a message saying something like “Hi [name], I noticed that you are invested in [startup] as an angel. I am currently researching angel investors with the best fit for [your startup]. From your what I see about your background and investment I really think that it would be great to talk.”

The above is the list that Arnas and I came up with. There is probably many more ideas. Please feel free to add them below.

Maersk Growth is the venture capital arm of the global logistics company Maersk. We combine our venture building capabilities with a unique industry expertise and access to data and customers to help startups scale. Since last year we have invested in a portfolio of 12 startups trying to change trade, transport and logistics on a global scale. If you want to be part of this journey, feel free to reach out to me or check out our portfolio.

Partner @Maersk Growth