Building relationships with VCs as a startup employee

If the startup where you work has taken on VC or angel money and it’s a relatively early stage startup there is a good chance you will have some exposure to the investors.  Especially if you are a somewhat senior hire or one of the earliest employees at the startup. If this describes you or your company then you should make an effort to build relationships with your startup’s investors.

Building relationships with your company’s investors is important if you’re planning to build a career in the startup world. A couple of reasons for this:

  • Investors tend to have a great view of which companies may be hiring and have relationships with startup execs and founders who have job openings. Plus, investors love to connect talent with companies both within and outside their portfolio. These two things mean that as you look for your 2nd, 3rd, 4th startup job that they’ll be in a position to help you. And they’ll want to help you if you’ve made a good impression on them in the past.
  • Investors also can help plug you into other companies for the purposes of facilitating business development, sales, or partnerships.

How do you build a relationship with your startup’s investors? 

Reach out to one of your startup’s investors to set up a short coffee meeting or a phone call (if not local)**. Make a practice to do this once every 3-6 months. If your company has multiple investors then maybe you shoot for trying to meet one of them every 2-3 months. The most important thing is to make sure you while you’re working at the startup that you take the opportunity to meet with even just one or two of the startup’s investors.

**You may want to give your CEO a heads up you’re planning to reach out to an investor. They’ll appreciate you letting them know. And they may even make the introduction for you.

What do I talk about when I meet the investor?

Some guidelines:

  • Keep it casual. If asked about your work, feel free to share whatever you’ve already shared internally with your company’s management team in terms of accomplishments or goals.
  • Avoid political stuff. Try to tactfully change the subject if the investor tries to push you into an area where you’re not comfortable.
  • Don’t make it a gripe session. Remember, you’re keeping it light / casual.

Best of luck in your first investor meeting!

 

John Gannon
I have over 15 years of experience working in the trenches at successful startups, high growth companies, and VC firms. During that time, I've managed, interviewed, and coached hundreds of people -- and I've worked in almost every business functional role, including marketing, product management, and business development.
John Gannon
John Gannon