One way or another, right or wrong, there will probably be a cost to you to gain access to the angel investment you seek for your business – or as someone once said to me, “It costs money to get money.”
I have always taken this sentiment at face value, having put a few businesses myself in the path of investors via paid membership to angel networks; some I have seen success and others I have not.
Unfortunately many companies place the same expectations on gaining access to a discussion for angel capital as they do to access a bank loan
But it doesn’t work that way, here’s why…
In many instances a middle layer is involved in sifting, introducing and shaping the deal flow that is presented to investors. This layer could be a freelance intermediary, a corporate finance organisation, an online marketplace, or an angel network that brings investors together to see investment pitches. Either way, people’s time is involved and obviously there has to be a cost to pay for that time, as well as the effort, management and draw upon resources.
There is the ‘free’ DIY fundraising route and this is to be very much commended for those who know what they are doing and have a well put together offering (and I’m not just talking about the business plan when I say ‘well put together offering’). Developing one’s own investor relationships is extremely worthwhile. However, be warned that this could be slow and time consuming and at worst, you could have spent a lot of time and effort just to find out that you were a long way off from being ‘investor ready’.
If fundraising is not an imminently mission critical activity and you have the ability to put occasional time aside, developing your own pool of investors is extremely worthwhile. It will help you gauge better how your proposition will be seen by the investment community, enabling you to make tweaks and changes along the way. Alternatively, the angel networks and pitching events generally do a good job at getting your ‘investment ready’ basics out of the way and your business proposition polished up nicely.
The resource drain
For some time now I have wanted to look at putting some sort of estimated cost value on the resource, time and effort that is involved in the campaign approach to fundraising. In particular, two fundraising campaign approaches:
1. the in-house DIY approach and
2. the external hire approach
I then looked to see what data I could try and attach to the two.
For the DIY route I have been able to talk to executives within a biotech company that frequently has to undertake DIY fundraising to gain VC interest, as well as their bucks, to fund their latest projects. The chart below represents an approximated cost to the business in terms of time and money. I have adjusted the salary details downwards, to fall into line with a more likely salary position of an early stage company.
The details show the amount of time two individuals (the CFO @ 75% of his time and the CEO @ 50% of his time, both on £60k salaries) spend on fund-raising.
The chart shows an estimated in-house organisational cost of £37k to release 2 people to fundraise. I ran these equations past the company and they said the salaries for more established executives in their sector would be higher. The true financial cost for them, they said, would probably by closer to £80k each time they undertake fundraising.
So this is a typical costing of the resource time and effort. Now to look at the output from a typical fundraising campaign.
Depth of Campaign
Occasionally, I take on the work of a fundraising intermediary/broker on behalf of a business that I think stacks up well for investors. This means that I sift and select business proposals/companies before presenting them to investors. It should be said that no two campaigns are the same. Some can last 2 months some 8. Some can get investment from just contacting 10 investors; some can get funded after contacting over 100. I’ll leave you with some of the results that I pulled from a recent 6-month campaign.
Total of emails generated between all parties (i.e Inbox total for this campaign) = 504
Total of the 504 emails that were from and to the company team = 186
Total number of emails to investment sources (504 – 186) = 318
Total number of investment sources contact by email (initially) = 132
Total number of angel investors approached = 77
Total number of investing groups approached (VCs & Funds, etc) = 55
Average number of emails sent to each investor source (318 / 132) = 2.4
Average number of phone calls to each investor = 4
Average time in minutes talking to each investor source (@ 2 minutes each call) = 8
Total time spent talking to all investors (8 mins x 132 investment sources) = 1056 mins = 17.6 hours
Time spent on dead/fruitless calls – no replies, secretaries & gatekeepers (6 calls average, 30 secs each x 132 investors) = 396 mins = 6.6 hours
Total number of meetings (including 2 scoping meetings with the company to start campaign) = 18
Is your business ready for fundraising? Try our free survey to help you decide.
Post author, Aristos Peters is a strategic advisor who undertakes fundraising, strategic growth development and NED advisory roles within early-stage companies looking to work up the steps of the investment ladder towards an exit. He works closely with angel investors, High-net-worth individuals With experience especially within the areas of digital, online, technology and media. His background prior to operating in the equity finance sector has been in b2b business development, sales and marketing/brand communications.
He is currently putting together a business angel investment syndicate / accelerator, The Big Bang Syndicate and blogs at: http://weklik.wordpress.com/
Tags: Angel investment, angel networks, business angels, DIY fundraising, external hire approach, Fundraising, fundraising campaign, fundraising intermediary, investment pitches, investment ready, pitching events, VCs & Funds