Chief Executive Fundraiser

One of the biggest jobs for a startup CEO, if the founders decide to use external capital to invest and grow, is fundraising. It is not something that is done instead of “working on the real business”, it is the real business as much as product development, sales, marketing, recruiting etcetera (just consider that early-stage CEOs will often raise more money from investors than their sales teams will have sold to customers for a long time).

Being a great fundraiser is an enormous advantage when building a startup, as it gives access to more money (at a higher valuation) that can be used to shape the market and hire a great team. One later-stage example of this is Elon Musk and Tesla. By being a great fundraiser and storyteller, he solved very real financing challenges for Tesla so the company could invest in gigafactories and inventory.

As investors meet CEOs raising money everyday, and over time they start to be able to identify great fundraisers. No professional investor would invest in an early-stage startup just because the CEO is great at raising capital, but a good startup significantly increases it chances to raise if it has such a person and a great startup becomes extremely attractive.

It is not only the fact that the person is more likely to convince investors (she is), but also the fact that having a great fundraiser as CEO increases the likelihood of the company, in the future, will raise more capital at a higher valuation. And that is highly attractive.

What makes someone great at raising venture capital? I don’t think there is one formula, but some ingredients are: having the right type of business in a big market, being in a market venture capitalists want to fund (“consensus and right”), some traction, a big vision, interpersonal skills, presenting the right information and being able to run an effective process. And being able to take those and other ingredients and combining them in a simple story that makes it seem inevitable that you will build a very large company.

Author: Henrik Torstensson

Partner at Alliance VC. Investing in Nordic early-stage tech startups.

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