Where did all the investors go?

Wouldn’t it be nice, if someone walked up to you and said…

“Hi, my name is Joe and I’m an investor. I want to allow you to use my money in your deals!”

Keep dreaming.

Investors are typically not hiding. It’s just that you don’t know where to look for them. Once you find them, you have to get their attention. They don’t all go around in fancy cars or private planes – some are in plain sight – it’s just that you don’t know it, or haven’t been able to see behind the facade.

There are plenty of places to go and find investors. If you want to catch fish, you can go out into the big sea and wait. Or you can go to the place where fish are and use a net. The choice is yours.

Here are a couple of them for you to start out with… trust me, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Linkedin – you probably think linkedin is a job searching tool. What some don’t see it as is a customer/client prospecting tool. Given the online presence of so many businesses – the managers of those companies are also available (granted not all, but something is better than nothing). And you want to know where those investors are lurking… in the groups. If you have some knowledge or insight to share, by all means – share it! Investors are reading your stuff.

Facebook – Ha! Really? Yes… Really. It’s just that you don’t know that baby boomer who was extremely successful and fairly rich checking out her grandson’s snaps. Yet they’re their.

Twitter – You’d be surprised how this ADHD platform has a number of VCs using it – and some even prefer those 140 character limits, because they’re overburdened with email that blabbers on. Short and sweet.

YouTube – yes, investors watch videos – just like you and me. And sometimes, they actually comment on them. It’s just that you have to know what to listen for when they comment.

PRIVATE EQUITY PLATFORMS

Palico – this is basically a marketplace for connecting Limited Partners (Investors) with General Partners (Fund Managers). If you want to place (market) your funds / companies with investors – have a look.

Trusted Insight – this is a new platform I recently came across. You can network with other investors (if you’re co-investing) or find someone who can invest with you.

LP GP Network – I honestly haven’t used them, but they were probably one of the first platforms.

AngelList – if you’re raising capital for your startup – this is THE place to visit. I had started something similar only to close it down, when I saw what Angel List was doing. Without doubt – they’re revolutionizing the way Venture Capital is done. The old boys’ club certainly don’t like Naval. You’ll find me on AngelList as well.

Deal Nexus – got a deal, get on board. Here you can find buyers who are actively looking for investments like yours. (Disclosure: I haven’t used them, so can’t vouch for it)

CROWDFUNDING PLATFORMS

Lately crowdfunding has gained a huge amount of popularity, especially when Kickstarter made the news with a $20 million funding of a project. That was 2012, things have evolved so far that there are now over 1,000 crowdfunding websites online. Crowdfunding is slowly but surely becoming a new way for raising capital. Check out this Ultimate Resource Guide on Crowdfunding.

ONLINE DATABASES

The Family Office Database – sometimes you just want the work all nice and packaged for you. Pay the price then, and go for database like this. FOC can also help train you when dealing with Family Offices (typically a Family Office would have $500 million in assets)

ONLINE FORUMS

I join forums (today, many are on Facebook as Groups) all the time – but I’ve found the paid ones have really serious people. The important thing is to interact with those where you believe investors in your company will hang out. The reason they’re there is because they’re looking for good companies or ideas to invest in. You just have to show up and interact.

LOCAL BUSINESS & NETWORKING EVENTS (OFFLINE)

Every city should have some sort of local event that attract entrepreneurs. Keep in mind entrepreneurs who have already been funded, can introduce you to investors – so talk to them!

Check out MeetUp or EventBrite – even better, organize a seminar or event yourself and make an open invitation. You’ll be pleasantly surprised who shows up.

INDUSTRY CONFERENCES & TRADE SHOWS (OFFLINE)

Successful people who have the investing capacity or interest in funding companies turn up at these events. If its in your industry, you should be there. You’ll find peers as well, but where the competition is – that’s where the money is.

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (OFFLINE)

I love chambers of commerce – I’ve met so many powerful business owners who congregate because its a common interest. Whether you’re in Bahrain or India, check out your Chamber of Commerce and start meeting other entrepreneurs – you never know who might be able to help you.

VOLUNTEER / NON PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS / CHARITIES (OFFLINE)

I strongly believe you should give back to society. Volunteer yourself to give to those who are less fortunate. Whilst this may sound selfish – you would be surprised to see that many successful entrepreneurs actually give time and money to such organizations – and you can relate to them on a common cause. Whatever you do, don’t do it just to find investors – please. Have a sense of dignity!

ALUMNI (OFFLINE)

Coming from a good college, that has a strong alumni – makes a huge difference to your success in raising capital. Many of your batch mates, juniors or seniors may have started companies or got funded – you have the chance to warm up to them in the name of your college! Goto any event your Alumni hosts… it will be well worth it.

Now while there are plenty of places to find investors (you really can’t complain for lack of information) – it’s not an easy thing to filter them and find the right one for you. I’d understand if you have lack of time. Because even if you did meet up with all these investors, you’d be short for time. There are only so many coffees you can drink in a day!

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