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Be Proactive and Tap Into Their Network

Fund: Innovation Works

Posted by Anonymous on 2012-09-17

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IW been doing seed-stage investing since the late 1990s - i.e. since before seed investing was trendy. As a result, they know a lot of people who have ended up in larger tech companies (through acquisition or otherwise), and they have a lot of examples of smart and dumb decisions that the entrepreneurs made along the way. Regardless of whether or not they fund you, you should try to use them as a sounding board and networking resource to access other entrepreneurs, employees, investors and potential customers. Here's a couple examples from my own experience -- through IW, our marketing person was introduced to a bunch of other creative/scrappy startup marketers, and I've used IW to help me with hiring and structuring appropriate compensation plans for my employees. I also used an IW connection (the CEO of a former IW portfolio company that was acquired by a large west-coast company) to get an intro to the strategic investor that I was targeting, which ultimately resulted in getting a term sheet from them. But you have to be proactive about getting the assistance. Look at their website and figure out which of the 100+ companies might have useful advice/connections for you, and then ask IW for the specific intros. Yes, the money from IW is nice (we got $200K when we weren't quite ready for a larger VC round), and the fact that they use convertible debt means that you don't have to argue about valuation yet. But an angel round could have provided us with the same amount of money -- the bigger value for us came from tapping into IW's network, and I'm pretty sure there aren't any angels in Pittsburgh with as big of a network as IW's.

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