Once you’ve closed a funding round and honed in on growth tactics, it’s critical that you activate and properly leverage your network of operator-angels, especially in the early stages of growth as your company continues to determine its product-market fit.
As a founder, learning how to leverage your angel network will give you and your team a lasting competitive advantage in the market. Critically, once you begin to successfully manage your network of investors and advisors, your efforts will start to yield compounding returns.
In the process of leveraging your angel’s network, there are two key steps of implementation: establish alignment and define deliverables.
Despite the fact that you and your investor are inherently aligned towards the same outcome, whether that’s an operator-angel or full-time fund manager on your cap table, there is always some degree of misalignment around value-add expectations.
At the end of the day, your investors also have full-time jobs, and are often dealing with 10+ portfolio companies also asking for support in a specific area. However, there are a number of steps to properly leverage your angel’s network to its fullest that in turn reap benefits for your company.
The first step is to sit down with your investor and establish alignment.
In this case, alignment refers to aligned value-add. If you run a competitive and successful fundraising strategy, you likely chose angels on your cap table that represent relevant operating experience in a given field that you need support with. Maybe that angel can augment internal hiring processes, product development roadmaps, or future capital raises.
In order to fulfill that value, it’s critical that you sit down with the investor and align yourselves around what is needed, why it is important, and what ideas they have. By driving this early alignment with your investors, you can significantly accelerate distinct parts of your business.
In some cases, as Brianne Kimmel notes, you may specifically seek investors “to accelerate partner integrations and remove bottlenecks,” or prioritize angel-operators that can “open doors quickly” to later financing rounds.
Either way, establishing alignment about what is expected with your investor through a clear and open dialogue is the first step to a fruitful partnership.
Angels offer expansive networks across verticals, flexibility around ownership percentage and check size, and a rare empathy for the fundraising process.
However, they also provide an unfair advantage when it comes to rapid feedback and high-quality skill augmentation.
You can search high and low for best practices and clear answers, but a single node in your network will provide the most actionable, high-leverage advice. However, you cannot expect your investor network to offer their time, energy, and finite attention immediately and in rapid succession without first laying out exactly what you need from them, within reason.
By sitting down with your investor and clearly defining goals, objectives, and key deliverables, you will be able to properly filter and cultivate actionable growth tactics.
This process in itself is not incredibly complicated; rather, it is quite similar to a generic KPI or roles and responsibilities session with an employee. Simply lay out what you need from them on a given timeline, then edit and clarify your objectives based on real-time feedback.
By clearly defining deliverables and what work product, connections, audits, or general support is expected from your operator-angels on the cap table, the process of collaboration becomes infinitely easier and more productive for both parties involved. As a founder, understanding the fundamentals behind a successful investor collaboration is key.
In the process of leveraging high-signal angels and quality nodes, establishing alignment and defining deliverables will allow you to massively accelerate your growth trajectory early on.
We built Conduit to specifically accelerate this process while maximizing your leverage as a founder. As we scale our platform to connect the world’s best operator-investors and founders building the next generation of startups, we’d love to meet you.
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