Tl;dr: Excel and Google sheet tool to manage the outreach to investors during your fundraise process. Track who you are reaching out to, the stage of conversation up to managing the allocation of funds to investors in the round.
What this fundraising process manager tool is for
If you want to raise money, you need to run a process. You are not going to have an investor reach out and give you the money you want on the terms you like and get back to execution in a day.
Nope. Welcome to pain. You’re going to hit the road and hit up 50-250 investors.
Yeah. How are you going to manage that shite show?
This tool is how you manage your process.
It’s basically just a free and custom CRM for fundraising.
Watch the fundraising process video overview
In the video, I explain how to use the tool. If you want to learn bits and bobs about raising read this blog.
Download the fundraising process model
Input your email and it will be sent to you as a zip file. Figure out how to open a zip file. Wait for the email to arrive. Please don’t message me about this. Thanks!
Who this is for
Startup founders raising from VCs and VCs raising a fund from LPs.
I mainly build stuff for startups as they have no money and so need free shizzle so I’ll write this from the POV of startups.
If you want to raise a fund as an investor, then that is fine too. The same process applies. You might just want to maybe change the headings in materials sent (or remove some).
Excel and Google Sheets versions of the fundraising process tool
I made the fundraising process tool in Excel. I’m an Excel nerd so I like it. However, I also made a Google Sheet version which has the same functionality.
If you are running your raise by yourself and like Excel, then use the Excel version. Just save it in Dropbox so you can always access it and not lose it. Also, save versions to ensure nothing goes wrong. The only downside is that it’s not collaborative, but then only one person should be maintaining it anyway.
I personally hate Sheets as I’m a keyboard warrior in Excel.
If you 1/ don’t have Excel, or, 2/ are working with a team to raise, then use Google Sheets. The sheet isn’t that complicated so less ease of use vs shareability with a team is a no brainer.
When I do raises with others I always use Google Sheets.
I’m going to combine 2 sheets in a zip file for you to download as well as a text doc with links to the Google Sheets.
There will be two for each of Excel and Sheets. One is filled (to show you how it might look filled in) and one is blank (for convenience).
I uploaded and edited the Sheets in Google to make them work. You just need to upload the blank one into your drive, or add them as a new sheet (same thing) so the file is online and yours (so no one can access too).
You need to save the Google Sheet to your drive. DO NOT ASK FOR ACCESS! I don’t know if something gets lost and save to Excel and you upload again.
History of the fundraising process model
I made a ghetto version of this model back in like 2013? I started out with a basic structure and it evolved as I used it. I since used it a few more times and it largely stayed the same.
I was looking through my drive and found one of them. I thought “why not pimp this and share it to help founders?” Gave myself Saturday to make something and here you go.
Logic behind the fundraising process model
I know most people suck at Excel so I designed this to make it as easy to use for n00bs as possible. I could have done more fancy stuff, but too many people would get confused.
Here are some of the principals I used in case you want to know (NB: read and internalize the last point about being anal).
Made so it’s easy to use without Excel skills
You only need to know how to do the following to use the model:
- How to cut and paste a row or data (CTRL+X and V as a shortcut in Excel)
- How to delete a row (Or cut a whole row. CTRL+space as a shortcut in Excel to select a row to cut and or delete)
- Use a dropdown menu (ALT+down arrow as a shortcut in Excel)
- Type shizzle (Frankly your fecked if you can’t do this, dude…)
Structured to follow a rigorous process to do things properly
I made the fundraising process tool by thinking about each individual step involved in each discrete process given my experience.
If you see sections of columns and think “Feck me Alexander, you a-hole, why is this stuff here begging me to fill in data…” it is because I know almost all founders do not actually know the fundamentals of raising and the implications of not doing things properly. In fact, I could have added a lot more columns for the n00bs, but I thought you would shoot yourself if you saw them!
The sheets all follow a very logical progression.
Within sheets, the columns follow a specific progression too.
- There are columns to qualify investors
- There are columns around your outreach and how you get warm intros
- There are specific dropdowns to help you track stages
If you know your shizzle and just like the fact that I made a handy tool, then cool. You understand why these columns are there. You can either:
- Ignore them
- Delete them (just make sure you know how to use Excel!)
I made this to ensure n00bs know what they should ideally be doing and for n00bs and advanced founders to have a robust tool.
Caveat: If you see columns and think that they are boring, tedious and the like, but you don’t know why they are there, then you don’t know. You need to learn till you know they are useful, but that you specifically have knowledge so you don’t have to fill them in.
I don’t want to lecture you, but I know so many people haven’t learned how to do this all yet and I want to look after them. Cool?
Reduced some options to make it simpler to use
I figured out some ways to make the sheets do cool things, but I learned in the past that people don’t do Excel good and complex means not used, so I did things differently.
For nerds who think “why didn’t you do this and that” it is because I tried to make this simple, but still rigorous.
It’s anal to ensure you do things right
Raising is a pain in the ass. Trust me. Admin or updating a sheet is the least fun thing imaginable!
I worked in M&A as a little beatch (aka analyst) and filling in sheets was basically my 6 figure job. I hated it, but I learned how messed up things get if you are not anal (aka attention to detail).
I really hate admin… Multiple times I have raised and didn’t fill in my tracking sheet as detailed as I should have. Man, that wastes 10x more time than just fricking filling in the sheet as and when you need to. Please trust me on this. I’ve said the trust thing a few times already and that is because I know the pain! I’ve wasted a tonne of time so when I tell you to do really boring things, it’s because I don’t want you to learn the hard way. You will ignore me and learn yourself, or just trust me.
You don’t fill in say five rows of 50 on the status of conversations with investors. You start losing momentum and freak out a little. You run through the list of 50 investors and on row 19 you notice that the data for KPBC is wrong.
Did they say they passed, or to send them more info?
Now you have to go to your email or phone and trawl through coms to see what the story is. Worse, you agreed on things in a meeting and didn’t take notes. You can’t even remember! What do you do now? Email the VC and say “sorry, forgot where we are in the process?” How dumb would you look?
I take notes and wouldn’t go that far, but I’m anal. Blowing an hour to go through emails to see where you are when you could spend one minute (I know it’s one-minute x 50 x each interaction) is painful. Just do what I say and fill in the sheet properly, especially the status and next steps of investors in the Progressing and Offers sheet.
You will ignore me and make the mistakes I did in the past and realize what I said was right. I know it’s dull, just do it! You will lose track if you are not anal.
The importance of managing your fundraising process
Let’s briefly cover why it is important to manage your process properly and mention some features that are useful.
Do homework before you start your process
Do not just start reaching out to investors without a plan. That is a terrible idea. You need to treat raising like a horse race, only you want to have all the horses running around the same pace so no one gets too far ahead in the process.
Before you raise you need to plan out who you want to raise from, figure out who is going to make intros as needed and then run a methodical process.
This sheet structures that up for you so you can follow a process and pace investors.
You will waste a lot of time if you don’t update things properly
As I have mentioned (so I won’t labor the point) you will waste a lot of time if you do not properly maintain the sheet.
You want to focus on outreach, pitching, following up etc, and not trying to remember where the hell you are in a process with all your investors.
At the start, you will (or should) have a long list of investors. You also need to run your startup at the same time, so you will get confused and forgetful.
Know what to focus on
You are not going to spend too much time on investors in the list at the start. There are a lot of people to deal with. Focus is dealing with volume with attention to detail and constantly triaging.
As the process goes on, you want to focus on investors in the mid of your funnel, proving them with information etc.
At the end, you are hyper-focused on specific investors and getting them across the line, so you are to prioritize the investors most likely to invest.
Share the investors you are looking for if people are willing to make intros
If you have friends who know people, and they like you and your startup, they will occasionally ask “Who are you raising from? I’d be happy to see who you want to raise from and make intros.”
When this happens, you do not want to respond “I’m raising money. Who do you know?”
That is crap. You are putting the work onto someone else that doesn’t want to do the work for you.
The better way is to say that you want to raise from these people. You can show them a list and they might know them.
To make this easier, I structured the List sheet so that you can do this and use a filter to select who you want to show.
Maybe you want to show the whole list, maybe just the ones you are looking for an intro to. Up to you.
Point is, always make it easy for people to help you. Know who you want to raise from. This sheet helps you to do this.
Let’s get into the sheets now.
No one was born knowing how to raise. I don’t care who you are, you do not know everything about raising. I talk with a lot of founders, many in their 40s+, many of whom have raised large amounts of money and have had exits. Even with the really experienced founders, they do not know everything and they always do one core thing wrong.
The most important thing that everyone does wrong is to not focus on the basics.
Every single time I have a call with an investor or founder, I get asked to do a call on something, but I always go to the basics. Everything past the basics doesn’t matter if you do the basics wrong or don’t pay attention to them.
This sheet can be ignored by experienced people, but I don’t recommend it. Everyone should fill it in. Why?
You need to be crystal clear about who you are hunting:
- How much do you want to raise?
- How much do you need vs want to raise?
- Who do you want to raise from?
- How many investors do you want in your round?
- Do you need a lead? What kind of lead do you want?
- What stage of investors are you looking for?
This is just a list of all the obvious things I could think of that you should at least spend 10 minutes minimum getting really super clear on.
Let me explain why, depending on who you are.
If you know little about raising, you have no idea what you are doing. You might not even know you need a lead, what types of investors there are etc.
- You need to know how much you want to raise and how much you need to raise. use the Future Fundraising Model to understand this at a high level. you can use my Runway Calculator model to do this on a granular level. And if you want to take this seriously, get one of my financial models
- You need to understand that investors invest in regions / sectors / stages / invest certain amounts
- You need to understand you always need a lead investor (almost always) at a large seed and every round after
- That there are different kinds of investor and they are different
- That investors write different check sizes (though there can be large variation)
There’s just a shit load you need to be aware of!
Filing in the sheet makes you get really clear on:
- What you want
- Who you want
- That many investors aren’t interested in you (For many reasons)
The benefits being:
- You don’t waste time
- You don’t be a little beatch complaining investors are assholes for passing on you / being rude etc, because you are just naive/ignorant to not know how to filter your outreach
- You form an actionable plan
- You build confidence believing you have a plan (even if you are wrong!)
I can go on, but you get the idea.
If you aren’t super clear on what I am talking about, put in the time and get clear. Then do the exercise.
Maybe you have done this before, maybe you have just read a lot.
You look at this sheet and are probably thinking… “Alexander, WTF? Who do you think I am???”
Dude… You talk a big game, but I guarantee you, if you get on a call with me and I ask you 101 questions about your raise, you are going to crumble and admit you haven’t thought about some things enough. You really haven’t thought some basics through.
Whoever you are, fill it in any way. There will be one thing you might not have thought about, or it might ping a thought in your head on something that matters.
- Raise amount: This is how much you want to raise and is the min and max
- Need: This is the min you need to make the raise worthwhile. If you don’t raise this amount you have wasted your time. Presuming you need to raise again, less will not help you get to the next round so there is no point in bothering
- Want: This is the Goldilocks amount you want to raise. There is buffer assuming you don’t hit targets, there is enough to test a bit more etc.
- Range: Keep it tight. For Seed it could be $500k to $1.5m. At Series A it could be $5-7m. At B it might be $25-30m.
- Cities: What cities/countries do the investors invest in? In the US it is by city. In Asia, it is by country. Investors in the US rarely invest in the EU for example. Know where you want investors to invest in
- Sector: Healthcare focused investors do not do adtech. Most VCs will do most sectors, but be clear on who you want (and who will not do you)
- Lead/follower: Investors are typically leads or followers. That can change per deal.
- Number of investors: Less investors is better up to a point. You will end up doing what you need to do, but know what you want. If you are at angel, then you will have the most investors at this stage. Normally you will have fewer investors the later your round. If you are raising from VCs, then you will rarely have more than 3 in a round.
- Check size: This matters the most at angel stage and when you are still open to the ‘little guy’ getting in a round. Be aware of how many investors you want in a round
- Stage: Understand the stage priority focus of investors. If people are mainly focused on A rounds, then they are unlikely to do B (unless following on) and may not be fond of seed
Before you start a process you need to figure out what investors you want to reach out to.
Here are the kind of investors there are:
- Waste of time
- Don’t invest in your geography/stage/sector bla bla
- Might invest
No, this is not a scientific list.
Basically, there are BS investors, there are investors that flat out will not invest and there are ones that might if you meet their criteria (which is high).
Your goal with this sheet/exercise is to figure out those that might invest and hunt them down.
Raising is a numbers game. You never really know who might invest. The vast majority of startups take what they can get, few have the options.
This sheet is your starting point. You probably want to spend a week on it. Don’t start outreach until you are ready.
- Make a really big list. Find everyone on you can that might vaguely make sense
- Triage investors and delete anyone that clearly makes no sense
- Triage again to whittle it down
- Now you want to spend more time, doing more triage as you can. Find the obvious reasons to kill prospects (Don’t invest in India etc)
- Spend more time on each investor to now qualify the investors in your list. Check for:
- Kill, kill, kill if they make no sense
- For the remaining list, you want to filter for:
- Portfolio conflict: If you are Lime, don’t raise from Bird’s investors (duh). Do check as you look stupid if you do reach out as investors assume you know better. It’s fine if the VC invested a small amount in a seed and it’s not super public
- Keep anyone that might make sense in the list, bearing in mind you need intros and need to contact them
I’ve made a few checks for you to help you understand what to check for. No, you do not have to fill this all in perfectly, or at all, but you need to know what to check for.
If you are experienced, then you can skip this as you know the drill (Delete the columns if you want!). I made this fundraising process model to account that you might be a n00b and don’t know what to do.
There are other things to check for, but I’ve kept this to the basics.
Intro stage and warm intros
The intro section is the most important thing to track on this sheet. It sets out where you are in the outreach process. Make sure to update these intro columns.
You ideally just want one good warm intro. More and it can feel spammy, but sometimes you just do it. There can be a sense that lots of people like you if an investor keeps hearing about you. Just don’t piss people off.
I provided three intro sections for you to manage who might make intros and to prioritize them as needed.
Input their details and set their stage.
I would populate one for as many investors as possible before you start outreach. Then activate all those intros. If some do not work out, then find another intro.
When you have a list of investors you want to reach out to, you want to populate the specific details of the investors.
I set out the basics you want:
- Priority: You have investors which are: A, B, C, D. F knows what an A or D is… You decide. It is about prioritizing the investors you want and will accept. you do want to think about who is whom you want to allocate more time to and who you spend less time with. I’ll make up some BS for you now:
- A: The big dog. You want and may even accept a lower valuation for them
- B: Very solid. Still top firm, but just not the perfect investor
- C: Decent. Maybe not a logo shop, but why not?
- D: Fine… you need the money
- Type: The type of investor you are raising from. I give you these options:
- Angel: Rich dude
- Syndicate: A rich dude who gets other rich dudes to give them money on deals
- Family office: Really rich dude
- VC: Formal fund that invests
- Strategic: Corporate company like Salesforce that investors in startups (but there are strings… generally)
- Firm: Name of the investor firm
- Partner: Name of the investor. You may talk to multiple people at the firm but one partner backs the deal and that is the one to focus on
- City: Where the firm is based in case you need to fly etc
- Email: Makes it easy to email when you need to. It’s handy to have here. Trust me, you get busy, and so having this here just saves you a minute
- Check size: Check that they cut checks for the size and stage of round that you are doing
The List sheet is about lead gen. The Progressing sheet is about mid-funnel sales closing. You want to move the Progressing to the Offers sheets, to the eventual close.
Before you start raising you will blow a tonne of time (if done right) on the List sheet identifying and qualifying leads.
The time you blow during the process with be working investors in the Progressing sheet. You need to be a research nerd in the List sheet, you need to be diligent in the Progressing sheet, whilst being a sales genie in pitches (where the magic happens).
I said this before, I’m going to say it again. Be anal. Keep this sheet up to date.
If you have resources or know-how to hire minions on Upwork, the prospect of pushing updates to someone else is heaven. Hm. It doesn’t work.
I was delegated maintaining seller conversations in an M&A process by my MD. Here is the issue. No one likes admin. You get on your high horse and never communicate the right info in entirety. The MD thinks the minion can mind read and don’t communicate properly. Sheet updates are shite in shite out. I would have to keep asking for details my MD didn’t tell me and he would be shocked to hear everything in his head wasn’t in the sheet.
You still need to send the informed updates to the minion and that takes time. Maybe I’m too anal, but I think it’s just easier to do this sheet yourself and not delegate. It’s really important. Your startup may die if you mess this up.
VC details and process
I’ve automated the sheet a bit (see links in green) to repopulate data from the List sheet (A master sheet for names of VCs).
The next bit is really key and that is about the process. It’s how you keep track. You want to focus on:
- Stage: The dropdown maps out each possible stage of interaction. You have to update this continually
- Last interaction: It’s just the date you last talked to someone. The process can go on 6m (or more) so it is useful to know how long since you interacted with an investor, especially if your process is not hot
- Next steps: This is free text. You need to always type in what the next step is. There is always one, even if it is not a positive one. A negative one means you move them to the Dead sheet. If you need to send something, book a call, whatever, you note it. This is a really important column. Always know what you need to do next. You need to keep momentum and this column tells you what to do. I promise you that you will lose track at some point, so always make sure this column is up to date- like gold.
This is not the most important part of the sheet in the Progressing sheet. Don’t spend too much time on it as you don’t have the data (Most likely). It comes into its own in the Offers sheet.
Chuck in rough numbers based on what you think. If you are bold and get the vibe you can ask investors what they might invest at an early stage so you can manage things. It’s not a huge ask, but you just need to feel the vibe to ask.
If you don’t know you can guess, so long as there is some meaning. The min and max allow you to range values so you don’t have to be accurate.
The likelihood dropdown is just a meta of the potential ticket and vibe you have so you know who to prioritize and allocate time to.
Order of magnitude and right direction is all that matters here so don’t obsess if you can’t get data. The progressing sheet is about triangulation.
Process and ticket are about who you are talking to and how relevant they might be. That’s the only thing that matters till conversations progress past intros and the first call.
What happens after is the ‘process’ when you escalate commitment by sending documents in PDT, PPT, Excel, whatever.
There are a variety of documents to send to investors. Depending on your resources, knowledge, time commitment, etc, you will have lots of different kinds of information that you can share.
In the Materials Sent section I have mapped out all the kinds of materials that you can send. Some are obvious, some I invented.
You can read about the fundraising material you need here: The fundraising documents you need to pitch venture capitalists
Options are simple:
- Yes = sent
- No = not sent
- Ignore = not going to send
Just keep things up to date.
This is an optional segment which is why I put it to the end.
Some investors will ask, and all smart founders will ask to send investor periodical updates on traction (key updates in an email).
You want to keep track of who wants updates and the last time you send an update.
I’m not going 101, so track who wants updates, export the email list with a filter and off you go.
This is the promised land. It’s where all your work appears to be paying off. The sheet is important as it’s where you want to focus more and more of your attention to getting investors over the line.
The List and Progressing sheets are the hard slog and monkey work, doing a lot of outreach, playing the numbers, being diligent about conversations and continually learning to improve your pitch.
The Offers sheet is where you close the deals.
You want to cut and paste the investors that ‘seem close’ into this sheet. That removes it from the progressing sheet so there are no duplicates.
Now, there are 4 groups in this sheet. It’s what I made up when I did my first fundraise. There could be better categorization, but this is what I used and I raised, so it’s good enough.
Let me explain how I think about the four groups. Take them with a pinch of salt. You will get a feeling for where investors should be and probably obsess about this a bit after a while as you get stressed! Ha. Trust me, I know. With investors, you want to think a bit like 50 shades of grey (And here we have 4). We will go through them below but here are the four.
- Willing follow
- Maybe follow
If you don’t like these categories (I didn’t explain them amazing as they are a sense to me!) no stress. Just decide what they mean to you. You are going to move them between sections over time as you have interactions. The key is to know who you really need to spend time on to get their check. Get me? You’ll understand this more once your raise is going and you elicit interest. You only really understand it then.
Here is the overview of the sheet so you can see everything.
As you can see there are four sections to stage the quality of potential investors that want to invest. Everything looks the same as they are cut and paste from the Progressing sheet.
There are totals at the bottom to count the number of investors and the sum of the potential investment.
You can add rows above the totals line if you need to add more investors.
These are your almost slam dunks. They want to give you cash or about to give you a term sheet (if a VC) or offered you money (If an angel). No deal is done till the money is in the bank, but these are the hot ones.
Willing flow sheet
Ok, you may well be dealing with angels who are different to how VCs operate. An angel can say “I’m in, and maybe my friends too“. So you have the first one and maybe his girlfriends (Inside joke). For VCs, they may say they are not a lead but are in ‘if’ you get a lead. With these people, they are a backstop. You can’t fully rely on them but you might be able to have them help you fill out the round. These are fairly solid leads.
These are very similar to the willing follow, but you are less certain. You might decide that the willing follow are for sure… if you get the lead in the Offered section. The Maybe folk are a little less likely.
These are you least likely to invest investors. They barely make it out of the progressing sheet. You want to think about these guys as super sheep who might come in if you get Sequoia in. Suddenly people come out of the woodwork.
When you got to the fortunate position that you have potentially multiple officers from investors you will find yourself in a position where you need to decide who to take money from.
Angels that might have given you confidence by supporting you at the start with their relatively small tickets now might feel inconsequential. Alternatively, you might feel altruistic and want to cut them in. Either way, if you get offers for more money than you can handle then you need to decide what the round looks like.
I cut things up in a more ghetto way, this is a more pretty version. Different form, same output.
How to use it
It’s actually super simple in theory.
You just pick the names from the list (There is some fancy stuff which means you only select names from the Offers list) in the drop-down menu.
Then you can make up to 5 scenarios on how you think things could pan out. All you do is type in how much money you might give in the allocation and the total at the bottom helps you to see if you are near to your targeted raise.
How you think about this is dependent on you and complicated, how you fill it in is simple. Just type numbers.
This is a very simple sheet to understand ;). When investors hard pass on you, you put them here and out of your mind.
Make sure that they are a hard pass. If they straight up say the following, then they are dead for this round:
- Come back when you have more traction (Most cases)
- Market is too small
- We aren’t comfortable with the space etc…
Read this to understand what investors mean. Investor pitch meanings. If they say this in your meeting you know if it went well or not
Cut and paste them from the progressing sheet to the Dead sheet and that’s that. You don’t need to read the rest of this section if you want.
If you want you could run some analytics to understand the nos. I have not added functionality to enable this because it would involve adding more columns. The downside being:
- It makes this look more complicated/overwhelming
- You don’t want to see those columns in the other sheets
- It would make it harder to cut/paste if I added some custom columns in that sheet
- I would have to change the database schema a bit in a way you might find too complicated/annoying, bla…
Anyway, I thought about it and decided to make the sheet leaner.
Download the fundraising process tool
Input your email and it will be sent to you as a zip file. Figure out how to open a zip file. Wait for the email to arrive. Please don’t message me about this.
Conclusion on the fundraising process model
Be diligent about your process. Use the fundraising process model, update it, be focused and dynamic about it and you will have a better chance at raising.
Watch the video if you want to understand the sheet in more detail, otherwise, just get it and have a play.
If you have feedback to improve the model for everyone, please sound out in the comments and will respond/update. Thanks!
If you are looking for help in managing your fundraise process check out the fundraising support structure.