By Kyle Wong for Forbes
For tech entrepreneurs, raising a seed round is a critical milestone in the startup lifecycle. It provides external validation of the product and team, and a source of capital for team growth. But the difference between a strong, diverse seed investor syndicate and an indiscriminate source of capital can significantly change the outcome of the first months of post-seed operation. The simple truth is this: if used correctly, the skill sets of your investors can be as important as the capital they provide.
Investors normally consider themselves generalists with diverse specialties; many were previous operators who invested in other startups and have enough experience to recognize patterns. If used effectively, they can be an invaluable resource for operational advice, marketing strategy, and industry connections. However, keeping all of your investors updated on different aspects of your business can be very time consuming and distracting.
One of the most important lessons that every entrepreneur needs to learn is how to utilize the skill sets of their investors in a time-efficient manner. By understanding how certain investors fit within your overall investment syndicate, you can be more targeted with your asks and save everyone time.
I’ve found that by bucketing current and potential investors into the three categories of The Operator, The Industry Expert, and The Connector, you can better determine:
1) How can you best utilize your investor’s time?
2) What additional skill sets are needed in your investment syndicate?
3) Would a certain investor add value to your round?
The Operator AKA the CEO coach
This person is someone who has been in your shoes at some point in their lives, and is your first call when sh*t hits the fan.
The typical “operator investor” or “CEO coach” is a former startup CEO or co-founder who can relate to the day to day operating challenges of running an early stage startup — namely, for instance, …