You've got investor mail.
Congratulations! You just raised seed capital from a handful of investors and advisors. Now you can go back to chasing your startup dream. Oh, wait…now that I have investors, what do I do with them? How can I keep them updated without overly taxing my time? More importantly, how can I engage my investors when I need their help?
, we highly encourage our CEOs to write weekly company updates that you share with all employees . If you do that, then the easiest thing to do is bcc your investors and go back to focusing on your business. Then, when you have specific asks for your investors (see #4 below), you can just email your investors with those.
If writing weekly all hands emails isn’t your cup of tea, then make a copy of the Emergence Investor Update Template
and follow our tips below for writing simple and effective investor updates.
The best investor updates cover 5 key items:
1. North Star Metric
What is a North Star Metric (“NSM”)? This topic deserves an entire blog post of its own. Simply put, a startup’s NSM is the most important metric that everyone in the company should focus on optimizing. Your NSM should be a leading indicator of your company’s success and should be aligned with the Company’s mission.
For example: Emergence investment Mya
is an AI recruiter that helps enterprise customers identify, screen and onboard talent. Mya’s NSM is the number of candidates hired via Mya. This directly ties to Mya’s mission to streamline the recruitment process so candidates and companies find better fits in less time. Further, everyone in the company can work toward optimizing this metric:
- Sales can secure new contracts, which can increase the candidates hired through Mya.
- Customer service can onboard customers faster, which can increase candidates hired through Mya.
- Product and Engineering can build features and improve algorithms which enable Mya to convert more conversations into hired candidates.
2. Company Updates
Of course, in addition to your startup’s NSM, you will want to update your investors on the Company’s progress toward top quarterly goals. We generally advise our startups to pick 3 goals and keep those goals consistent for the entire quarter. The key to a great goal is to make it specific and measurable. Some examples of quarterly goals include targets for:
- Net New ACV Bookings (New Annual Contract Value Bookings — Churn)
- Net Churn Rate
- Customer Net Promoter Score
- Engagement Stats Such As Weekly Active User %
- Product Milestones
- Hiring Employees
- Cash Burn
3. Issues with Insights Learned, Proposed Resolutions or Specific Asks for Help
This is the section in an Investor Update where the CEO should be transparent about the challenges they are facing in the business. As a general rule of thumb, it is wise to have an insight learned or a proposed resolution to go along with each issue you share. Of course, sometimes you won’t have one, and that’s okay too. Here are a couple of examples:
- Customer X Churned for $12K MRR — We lost big customer X last month. We thought customer X would automatically renew since they were happy, but a competitor undercut us at the renewal and won the business. Resolution: Going forward, we have implemented a policy of reaching out to any account above $10K MRR 3 months prior to their renewal date.
- Our office is busting at the seams and we can’t fit another person without pushing Milton into the basement. Resolution: We signed a sublease from our neighbors so we can fit 3 more people. This is a temporary solution while we look for a larger space.
4. Your Asks
Yikes, so far updating investors is a lot of work and no reward! Well, here comes the section where you get to ask your investors for help. There are two keys to asking for help: be specific and make it easy for the investor to take action. Every investor update should have at least one ask! You can ask for introductions (executive hires, customers, partners), advice and/or feedback. Here are two examples of a good ask and a bad ask:
- Bad: We need to hire a VP of Marketing. Does anyone know of a good candidate
- Good: We need to hire a VP of Marketing. This person should understand mid-market demand gen experience, selling into the HR buyer and the freemium business model. Does anyone know of a good candidate?
- Even Better: We need to hire a VP of Marketing. This person should understand mid-market demand gen experience, selling into the HR buyer and the freemium business model. I identified Candidate A (LinkedIn profile) as a strong potential fit. @Investor — You are connected to Candidate A, can you copy and send this email to them: “Hi Candidate A, I’m an investor in Company X and they are looking to hire a VP Marketing with your skills and experience. Company X is firing on all cylinders and I think it would be a really interesting opportunity for you. Would you be open to connecting with CEO?”
- Bad: We were featured in an article on the Emergence blog. Please share!
- Good: We were featured in an article on the Emergence blog. Please click this link to share on twitter!
Now for the fun part. Sure, it’s important to thank your investors for their support, but a nice side benefit of thanking your investors is the opportunity to stoke the flame of competition. How can you do this? Simple. Thank the individual investors that answered your calls for help in the prior month. Thanking an investor acknowledges their effort and makes them more likely to help again. Also, acknowledging an investor makes all of the other investors feel like they aren’t pulling their weight so they will be eager to jump in and prove their value by helping out this month.
Special thanks to Kyle Porter of SalesLoft and Josh Reeves of Gusto. Their investor updates are fantastic and I incorporated ideas from their update emails into this blog post.