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An Early Stage Company Essential: Composing Effective Investor Email Updates

by | Apr 6, 2017 | Fundraising, Insights, Management, Startup Advice

If you have investors or you think you may need investors at any point in the future, starting doing this one thing immediately. Start sending monthly email updates to current and prospective investors. They’re equivalent to stoking a fire: they’ll improve your fundraising effectiveness, build your existing investor relationships, and make you a better leader. 

Note, there are the three stages of companies that this post applies most directly to:  (1) Pre-Seed stage (will be raising a Seed round next), (2) Seed stage (will be raising your Series A next), or (3) Series A stage (will be raising your B round next).

There are three reasons why you should write email updates:

  1. They keep current and prospective investors emotionally invested.  Your existing investors will be more in tune with what’s going on, how they can help (intros, advice, etc.), and when you might need additional capital. It also allows prospective investors an opportunity to stay close to your business so they will be more knowledgeable and comfortable when you need to raise your next round.
  2. They help maintain relationships. It’s easy as a CEO, because you’re so busy, to let months go by without talking to some investors, usually your smaller ones. Including them on an email update is a way for you to maintain that relationship in a low effort way.
  3. It will make raising your next round that much more efficient. If you’re diligent about building your prospective investor email list, a monthly email update to them will increase their understanding (and hopefully excitement) about your business. They’ll be ready to pull the trigger more quickly because they’ll see the fundraising need coming. Monthly email updates are a great marketing vehicle to target at prospective investors.

A Framework for Structuring Email Updates

There are many formats you could follow. This one is my favorite.

Highlights/Lowlights format

Summary

Very brief, high-level bullets on how the business is doing and/or the most important topics that are top of mind.

  • Bullet 1
  • Bullet 2
  • Bullet 3

Asks

If you have any asks of this audience on anything, be direct with them here. Are you looking for referrals for an open position? Are you trying to get an intro to someone at a specific company? Do you want their feedback on something specific? Make those brief asks here.

  • Ask #1
  • Ask #2

Highlights

This is where you update on great things that are happening in your business

  • Bullet 1
  • Bullet 2
  • Bullet 3

Lowlights / Learnings

This section demonstrates how you’re thinking about the business and growing as a founder. It demonstrates your ability to step outside of your ego and acknowledge where you need to improve. It’s also where you try to prevent bad surprises in the future. Investors don’t like surprises.

  • Bullet 1
  • Bullet 2
  • Bullet 3

Capital Raise Status

If you’re currently raising or plan to do so in the near future, here is where you talk about what’s going on with the raise, how much is committed/remaining, what the deadline is (use this as a call to action for investors).

Something quirky and fun that shows your personality

Don’t force this one, but as an investor, sometimes it’s nice to read a funny comment about the founder/team or something that occurred recently. It makes the interactions more personal and making investors smile is a good thing. Again, don’t force this, it needs to feel natural.

Tips:

  • Be brief and write in bite-sized chunks.
  • Use short paragraphs, not big long block text.
  • Sleep on the draft for one night before you send it. I find that often conjures up some edits you didn’t previously think about.
  • For the first few, consider sending it to yourself before sending it out to investors. See how it looks/reads.
  • Be honest, don’t hide stuff, and ask for input if you want it.
  • Don’t expect any responses. Investors are busy people and even though many investors won’t respond, they appreciate being kept in the loop. For some, it’s the main way they stay connected/engaged in your business. If you don’t get any responses, it doesn’t mean you should stop sending the updates. 

Two Final thoughts

  1. Email updates aren’t meant to replace phone/in-person conversations. They complement them. Both are needed for different stakeholders and at different times.
  2. You’ll probably find that composing these monthly updates will also be a good exercise for you to sit back and think about what’s going on in the business and what’s most important. They will help you refocus your energy.

Good luck crafting them. I’m confident you’ll find this a valuable activity. And if you’re already writing monthly investor update emails, let me know if you do anything differently that works really well.

About Range Light

We provide patient, founder-friendly capital to accelerate the growth of natural foods and active lifestyle companies.

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