Let’s take a look at some of the reasons not to email an excel sheet during startup fundraising.
Thinking of emailing an Excel spreadsheet attachment to investors during your fundraising efforts? Have you done it already? There are some pretty strong reasons not to. Check them out, and some of the smarter and more profitable alternatives.
This may seem to be a small factor in the midst of everything you are working on in a fundraising campaign. Yet, emailing attachments like this can be one of the most counterproductive mistakes you can make as an entrepreneur.
There are a variety of valuable reasons not to simply attach your fundraising materials to emails.
Even more so when it comes to Excel spreadsheets. Check them out below, and better practices for optimizing your campaigns at every step.
Why You Shouldn’t Send Email Attachments When Fundraising For Your Startup
These are some of the top reasons not to email attachments like Excel sheets and pitch decks when you are raising capital for your startup.
Controlling Your Message
If you send attachments they become static content out there in the world. There is a good chance you’ll be constantly changing and updating your spreadsheets and slides and other materials.
Yet, if investors have old copies in their inboxes, downloaded on their devices, or stored in the cloud, it can get messy.
They may be looking at the wrong data, projections, milestones, and much more. It can cause a lot of confusion and additional friction which may make funding much more complicated than it needs to be.
It is much better to be in full control of your content. You want to be able to edit in real-time on the fly, and dynamically edit as things evolve.
You don’t want to be trying to explain multiple versions of these materials. That’s a real challenge once attachments are out there forever. And that’s one of the reasons not to email an excel sheet during startup fundraising.
Keep in mind that in fundraising storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Once you hit send on an attachment you have let it loose in the world. It is out there forever.
It can be printed, downloaded, shared, saved, and uploaded. You’ll never know who has copies, what is being done with them, or be able to recall them. You won’t know when this information is being viewed or copied.
It is better when entrepreneurs don’t include too much detail when they are beginning to pitch and market to investors. This streamlines the process of getting your message out there and getting to the next steps.
You don’t have to become the bottleneck, demanding NDAs or fearing your information getting out there.
Still, it just makes sense to keep all of your data more secure, and know what is happening with it, who is using it, and having control over access all the time.
Getting Through & Viewed
It is already hard enough to get your messages through today. Even when your desired recipients want your messages or have subscribed to updates it can be challenging to get them through and seen today.
There is so much noise, many hurdles, and complications. Then add attachments on top of that. Plus, trying to reach out to cold prospects, it can be many times harder to get your message delivered, noticed, and opened.
This isn’t just a Gmail or email issue. It can apply to social media and SMS messaging too.
Even once you’ve managed to land your message in one of these inboxes without being filtered out, your attachments may be stripped out or blocked. If you get through that hoop, then you still need to stand out enough for potential investors to be compelled to open your message.
Once opened, every line needs to be interesting and compelling enough to carry them through to viewing your fundraising materials.
Once you’ve managed that, they still need to be able to view your files in a functional and pleasing way. Excel is still not very flexible in this way.
This factor holds true on all devices.
Even on laptops, it won’t always open well. Much less on mobile phones and tablets. Do you want to risk all of this effort on it coming through effectively as an attachment? Think about it and you’ll understand the reasons not to email an excel sheet during startup fundraising.
There are enough challenges with getting funded, even if you have a perfect spreadsheet and pitch deck. Investors are being sent thousands of them.
If you don’t make it super simple and easy you are going to lose them. They have too many other opportunities to waste their time with dysfunctional attachments.
Even if you do have an exciting enough proposal, if they want to share it with their partners or other investors, you may be facing the whole issue over again.
Filling The Funnel
Sending attachments is like blasting billboards at people versus having real conversations with prospects.
What you want to be doing is filling your lead funnel, pulling them through the steps, and prompting real engagement and conversations.
In addition to not sending attachments helping to avoid others altering or manipulating your materials, there are better ways to turn to view your materials into a magnet and engagement mechanism.
Rather than just throwing your spreadsheet spaghetti at the internet and hoping something sticks.
Whether it is billboards, radio, postcards in the mail, or cold emails, you are often very limited on the ability to track results and what’s really happening with any engagement, or if there is any, after you blast your marketing out there.
Unless they actually call you or message you back and you have a good system in place for documenting them, you really don’t know what’s going on.
How do you know if what you are doing is working, or not, or where it is falling apart. That certainly isn’t very efficient.
Did they get the spreadsheet? Did they look at it? Are there any indications they are interested? Or was it a total flop? These are just a few of the reasons not to email an excel sheet during startup fundraising.
Measuring Your Performance
If you aren’t tracking then you aren’t measuring. You don’t know if your fundraising efforts are doing well, how they compare to industry benchmarks or anything. If you don’t know, then you cannot improve.
You are choosing to willingly ignore the potential data you could be gleaning. You are going to be winging it, and flying blind. Guessing where you should be putting your effort, energy, and investment.
You could be putting this all into the broken things, and ignoring the things that are working, or could with a couple of tweaks.
This is crazy, given that virtually every startup being launched today is relying heavily on data and metrics and measuring for just about everything else. You are probably using it from marketing to product development, to hiring.
Why on earth wouldn’t it be a core part of fundraising too? After all, you may never get far with anything else until you’ve got that funding in the bank.
As a startup, you have to be working hyper efficiently. Far more so than larger companies in your space. Sending email attachments is incredibly inefficient.
Not only is it failing to optimize your results, but the time you put in, and the returns on any capital you do have.
Given half of your time in early rounds may be taken up by fundraising in a good campaign, how much more time is a poor campaign going to take? How much more money and effort?
Even if you have plenty of capital already, this is all taking away from your focus on building the real business and pushing things in the right direction for development, customer acquisitions, sales, and growth.
It is also worth asking what investor is going to consider investing in a startup that is flat out ignoring some of these key issues and is working so inefficiently.
Sure, there are investors who may love traditional spreadsheets and Excel. You may even be including a few rows of Excel-like data in your pitch deck’s financial forecast anyway.
Yet, there are certainly more stylish, easy, and faster ways to convey data and visually present it. You don’t have to spend a lot on a good designer or financial modeling software to have some better charts, graphs, and diagrams.
Remember that there may be just as many potential investors who may glaze over at dull spreadsheets. Especially during earlier fundraising rounds.
Understand these factors as the key reasons not to email an excel sheet during startup fundraising.
How To Send Your Fundraising Materials To Investors
So, what are the alternatives to attachments for sending your Excel sheets and other fundraising documents?
A link to your documents hosted in the cloud is by far a superior way to share them with potential investors.
This solves most of the issues listed. It can dramatically increase your odds of success at all of these stages, from getting your messages delivered and read, to funneling them further into your pipeline and creating engagement opportunities.
It means you streamline the process for viewers and can track your results and performance at every step. You can update in real-time, and know where to improve while saving a substantial amount of resources in the process.
It is the choice for getting funded faster.
Even as you’re learning about why attaching an Excel spreadsheet with your pitch is a bad idea, take a quick look at the other dos and don’ts of a pitch deck. I have put together a quick video explaining the errors to watch for.
What To Include In Your Fundraising Materials
There are really two phases to sending your fundraising to prospective investors in your startup. Provide just what you need at each stage, and no more. Focus on keeping it simple, and keeping things flowing in the right direction.
The first phase is sending your short introductory pitch deck. Or at least a link to it in the cloud. Google Drive can work fine. Though there are other more startup and pitch deck-specific platforms as well.
This is going to include your startup’s story, mission, product, team, traction, and financials, including financial forecast.
Other documents you may want to include at this time may include:
- Your most recent investor updates
- Business plan
- Executive summary
- Action plan
You may also include a marketing plan and an extended version of your pitch deck with an appendix.
Interested investors are going to want more meat and more detail for their due diligence. At this stage your data room may include:
- Articles of incorporation
- Business licenses
- Team resumes
- Insurance coverages
Tracking & Measuring To Optimize Your Fundraising Performance
So, what are some of the most important and useful metrics to be tracking by using this method of sharing your fundraising materials?
- Outbound messages sent
- Messages opened
- Data room views
- Which documents are viewed
- Time spent viewing each of your documents
- Repeat visits
- Document shares
- Pitches and meetings scheduled
- Offers and term sheets received
- Dollars raised
- Target investors closed
The more data you have, the more you can optimize and improve and perform better in fundraising at each round along your journey, and for the next one after this. Do you see the reasons not to email an excel sheet during startup fundraising?
If you are still using Excel sheets, or even just sending pitch decks for a new round of funding for your startup there are better choices than sending attachments.
In fact, making this one switch could have a huge impact on the outcome of your fundraising campaign, as well as how efficient and profitable the process is.
You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.