Investor First Impressions with Danielle Graham

November 23, 2021

This column is part of ventureLAB’s quarterly Alumni Network Newsletter. An “Advisor’s Two Cents” features ventureLAB advisors and their expert insights on the state of the entrepreneurial ecosystem while providing implementable strategies for founders.

Danielle Graham is an accomplished investor and consultant experienced in leading business transformation by designing and delivering innovative, long-term process improvements. We sat down with her to learn about the importance of making a good first impression with investors – and how you can do that. 


Why is it so important to have a good first email interaction with an investor?

Your email interactions with investors, as well as your initial pitches, tell investors how investment-ready you are. There are a lot of language nuances, red flags, and positives and negatives that investors can read into within your email. It’s critical to prepare and connect in ways that make the investor’s job easier and smoother.

Essentially, simplify your messaging, raise awareness on important elements, and position the opportunity effectively so that investors can read your email and gather a good first impression.


What kind of information should a company include in an email when connecting with an investor?

Develop an effective and well-written blurb with an initial sentence that describes what you make, what it does, what it solves, and for whom. For example: “We make hardware with some amazing function that solves a major problem for a valuable customer segment.”

In addition, include:

  • Clear indicators that you’re already successful (e.g. have you already had an exit, do you already have other investors?)
  • If you haven’t been a successful entrepreneur, you need to be honest – and showcase that you’ve got some traction
  • Monthly recurring revenue
  • The amount you are raising (CAD or US)
  • What you will do with the capital


What are some things to avoid when reaching out to an investor?

If you say something generic or confusing, an investor will assume you haven’t worked through every single detail of a clear statement. That reflects the strategy and direction of your business, so it has a big impact.

I’m also not a huge fan of a cold call or cold LinkedIn; I prefer when the founder has made enough of an effort to join a program, prove themselves, build relationships, and get warm intros. That to me indicates that they’re doing the work and not just expecting a quick buck. It also indicates that someone has actually coached them through this process.


What kind of additional resources or links should a company include in an email?

Attach your pitch deck and link to your website and LinkedIn. I always check the LinkedIn profile to see if the company is publicly stating that they’re focused on this business and that there’s a CEO and founder.

Sometimes founders send one pagers and only share more details in a data room or through a special link, so that they can see who’s who’s looking at the deck. The challenge with sending out your deck is that it’ll get shared widely, so you want to make sure that you’re careful about what information you share, and how you share it. 


What is the Capital Investment Program and why are you involved?

The Capital Investment Program is essentially a team of advisors who support early stage founders from pre-seed to series-A with their fundraising activities. This can include everything from early prep and investment strategy and documentation building to direct intros and demo days with venture capitalists.

The program has such a great team – and it’s completely aligned to the type of founders and the type of work that I want to do in the ecosystem. The opportunity to be able to advise more directly, especially within a field that I’ve kind of niched myself into overtime, is really rewarding.


About ventureLAB

ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.

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