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Questions to Ask People who Offer to Introduce You to Investors


If you seek debt or equity investment in your expansion stage business but lack access to investors in your sector, you are probably exploring businesses that (a) invest on their own and/or (b) offer introductions to investors: angels, family offices, private equity, or venture capital.


To assess whether individuals and businesses that promise to introduce you to investors have the right contacts for you, you might want to ask the following questions.


QUESTIONS:

· How long have you been in this business?

· Do you specialize in a particular industry sector, stage of company development or geographic region? (For example, an angel network in New Jersey specializes in healthcare businesses. A conference in Alabama invites SaaS entrepreneurs, but is educational rather than investment oriented. It features industry speakers, sponsors, and panel discussions.)

- How many entrepreneurial clients have you had? Any repeats?

· How many investors are in your contact database? Did you buy the list or did it grow organically through your business?

· At your price of $x (per month or once only), how many investors will I meet, and how (in person in a group or individual meetings, on Zoom in a group meeting or individually, or by email? ( Now you can calculate the cost per introduction and how “warm” it is. Is the fee $5000 or $500 or $50 or $5 per investor contact?) Will you provide me with contact information for all/some/none of the attending investors?

· What percentage of the introductions you will make are to people you know personally?

· At your price of $x, what do you do and what do I do to engage with those investors?

- (For example, one company charges $80,000 for entrepreneurs and brokers to mingle with family office professionals over the course of a weekend. Introductions are up to you.

- Another charges $25,000 for a high-end weekend where aspirational individuals can rub shoulders with politicians and wealthy individuals. Introductions are up to you to attract their investment.

- A company in India charges $1500/mo to send about 6 email introductions per month on behalf of the entrepreneur to investors from a list that it bought or sourced through the Internet).

- Angel networks may charge nothing to the entrepreneurs they accept, but only those who meet their criteria to present to their roster of investors.

- Other service providers charge a nominal sum, like $50 or $100 for entrepreneurs to compete in front of a panel of judges or to learn from a panel of industry insiders, but few investors. )

- Incubators charge a fee for a "boot camp" sort of training or charge by getting a certain percentage of your company. At the end of boot camp, they may introduce you to investors or invest themselves. (For example, one incubator charges $7000. Another charges 10% of the start up company).

·

· What is your background in investment or entrepreneurship? What are your relevant educational credentials? Where are you located?

· Do you invest yourself? With what criteria?

· Have you earned securities licenses? (If so, look up the person’s record on Broker Check at www.finra.org, which is the licensing entity for investment banking firms and individuals in the USA. A surprising number of people who are NOT licensed and NOT registered with FINRA or the SEC call their firms investment banks, or call themselves investment bankers. Beware). If not registered, these individuals and firms cannot legally earn a commission on funds raised. Those who promise this may be preying on uninformed clients.


Companies that offer to introduce entrepreneurs to investors vary greatly in their contacts, methods of engagement, and target client. Scrutinize their websites, ask good questions, and look for referrals and testimonials.



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