Fundraising 101: Words of Wisdom from Aaron Harris

by Scott Edward Walker on November 3rd, 2019

To Our Clients & Friends: Welcome to our weekly series Helping Entrepreneurs Succeed.”  Each week or two, we share a favorite video clip of a successful entrepreneur, investor or business leader on a variety of topics.  This week, we present Aaron Harris, a partner at Y Combinator.

In this interesting interview from a couple of months ago, Aaron shares some solid advice for founders with respect to fundraising, including the following:

  • “The mistake that a lot of founders make is that they are constantly fundraising while building product and trying to do both things at the same time.” (at 0:58)
  • “Your email [to potential investors] needs to be both short and informative.” (at 3:31)
  • “The amount of leverage you have changes the kinds of emails you can send and changes the interaction.” (at 8:27)
  • “The main trick to a good process is a parallelized process.” (at 9:17)
  • “The story you tell to an investor versus a customer is different because to an investor you are telling the story about how you are going to rewrite the future in a way that makes your company gigantic.” (at 12:33)
  • “When companies are over-capitalized they tend to make the wrong decisions.” (at 14:13)
  • “Investors expect more from companies that have raised more money.” (at 16:15)
  • “Investors invest in people who are very ambitious… and progress is the best way to argue that what you’re saying is believable.” (at 18:25)
  • “Most founders who are raising money for their company don’t have the luxury of choosing between different investors.” (at 19:06)
  • “If you’re in a position where you get to choose your investors, you should think carefully about who those investors actually are and what their incentives are.” (at 19:38)
  • “The process of fundraising for a Series A company is not actually that different from a seed, it’s just a different cast of characters and kind of a different amount of time before you raise.” (at 22:47)
  • “Once you have closed your seed, get back to work for a month or two… and then start building relationships with Series A investors.” (at 22:45)
  • “Good investors will be open to opportunities wherever they come from.” (at 28:23)
  • “Really succeeding with a startup at the highest level requires a lot of sacrifice in other parts of your life.” (at 30:47)
  • “Anyone who does anything truly great sacrifices something else in their life.” (at 31:39)
  • “You can’t model yourself on something you see externally – at all.” (at 32:32)

I hope you find the foregoing helpful.  Cheers, Scott

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