How to find your seed stage investors

Here at SOSV, a global venture capital firm that makes over 50 investments each year through our accelerator programs, we are constantly searching for investors that suit our companies. Times have changed in VC, and now that $100-million dollar financing rounds have become common (268 already in 2018!), it can be challenging to find the right investor to get your company off the ground.
Further complicating the process is finding an investor who is interested in your industry, vertical, geography AND round size. This post will provide tips to help you track down the proper investors for your first round of financing.

1. Pitchbook

Pitchbook has been a holy grail for us. We are able to sort investors by over 100 different preferences and fund characteristics such as AUM, dry powder (money left for investment), preferred investment amount, preferred investment stage, etc.
All of this information can then be exported directly to Salesforce or downloaded to an excel file for easy reference and personal filtering. The user interface can be tricky to navigate at times, but the major downside is the cost of the platform: >$5,000 per year.
If you are connected to an analyst or individual with access to Pitchbook, you might save some $$$. And what if you don’t? Here are some free ones!

2. Signal

Signal.VC is a powerful investor search engine. The value to using Signal VC is that they use your LinkedIn network to determine the strength of your connection to specific investors.
The home page by default shows the highest strength connection into specific VC firms. This page also lists the min, “sweet spot” and max check size the firms typically write.
Lastly, this home page shows VC geography preference and other companies they have invested in. All of this is shown without any sorting.
The biggest asset here is the filtering and advanced filter functions.
The basic filter can break down by firm or individual name, investment range, areas of interest and whether they lead rounds.
Using the advanced filter option, position, investment location, past investments, education, and work experience can be narrowed in too.
Finally, a third filtering option would be to select the round you are raising (seed, A, B, C+) within the industry search to ensure you will be finding the right VCs for your company.
VC lists can be populated and intros can be requested here as well. I have found Signal.VC to be the most user-friendly platform on this list. The only downside is that as a free resource, some data may be limited.

3. VCWiz

VCwiz specifically focuses its efforts on helping startups find investors for their seed round financings.
Here you are able to filter investors by stage, sector, industries, cities, and related startups. Another nice feature is the ability to see each partner in the firm and their most recent news updates, urls, investments, and descriptions.
Similar to social media, you are able to track or follow specific partners so you are alerted when they strike a deal, write a new blog post, leave the firm etc. This is a great automation instrument for tracking investors and their new investments.
Additionally, you can search investors by topics, which has a broader focus than filtering for investor industries.
The last feature is the ability to request introductions and have the platform track and organize all fundraising efforts. This simple to navigate resource offers value to those funding or planning to fund a seed round in the near future.

4. Crunchbase

CB is a well known resource where you are able to gather more information on the investors you are interested in. Here you will be able to search for VCs or investors based on a variety of criteria options.
In its free version CB limits the filtering options to two parameters. While there are dozens of parameter options, the limit of two can be frustrating if you are searching for an investor who focuses on specific verticals, locations, and check sizes.
The premium version, Crunchbase Pro, allows for unlimited filtering parameters at a cost of $29 per month. CB Pro also includes a variety of other in-depth resources such as charts, analysis tools, advanced search options, custom alerts, and excel integration. CB Pro is one of the more reasonably priced resources on the market currently when you consider the astronomical price of platforms like Pitchbook and Capital IQ.

5. AngelList

(Disclosure: My firm’s parent organization has a small investment in AngelList).
This resource is more valuable on a personal rather than company level. Here you can sort and filter for specific VC partners and angel investors.
Again, you are able to sort by role, location, market, companies, number of investments etc. What’s most useful about Angel.co is that you are able to look through your primary connections, secondary connections, and everyone else. This is rather similar to LinkedIn but serves as a smaller and more focused investor portal.
These five websites are truly valuable when searching for investors. If you are connected to a VC firm or angel network already, have conversations with your contacts first to determine who they may know who might be a good fit. The resources above can be great research and outreach tools, but your personal connections will always be number one.
Happy fundraising!
Anthony is an analyst for the HAX accelerator in San Francisco, CA. HAX is the world’s first and most prolific accelerator for hardware and connected devices, with offices in San Francisco and Shenzhen, China. HAX is a program of SOSV, a global venture capital firm with over $400M in assets under management.

Originally published at venturebeat.com on September 16, 2018.
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