How Venture Capital Firms Can Improve Deal Sourcing in 2023

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Most venture capital firms are looking to get on the ground floor of the next unicorn or $1 billion+ company, resulting in a great payoff for the firm and its LPs. However, most VC dealmakers still rely on antiquated and inefficient deal-sourcing processes and deal flow management systems to meet high-potential entrepreneurs and source promising early-stage startups.

VCs must adopt efficient deal-sourcing strategies coupled with the right technologies to stand out from the competition, find deals that align with their investment thesis, and have the highest probability of success.

Unsurprisingly, the best investment opportunities often hide in plain sight within the investors’ relationship networks; unfortunately, most venture teams lack the tools to tap into their networks and access them effectively.

Having the right tools and processes to leverage the power of their organization’s relationship networks can empower firms to punch above their weight by sourcing a higher volume of high-quality deals. By leveraging their networks, venture capital funds can forgo high-effort and low-yield sourcing methods such as cold outbound outreach and other inefficient workflows.

What is Venture Capital Deal Sourcing, and Why Does it Matter?

The lifeblood of every venture capital firm is deal sourcing or deal origination, which is also the first stage for finding and screening potential investment opportunities.

Once deals have been sourced (via inbound through email, LinkedIn, other social media channels, deal sourcing platforms, referrals, etc.), they are ushered through the firm’s selection and due diligence processes, which consist of several steps designed to identify new investments.

An efficient process for high-quality deal sourcing is crucial since the standard conversion rate from initial meeting to investment is around 1% or even lower at elite VC firms.

To be successful at generating an acceptable return, VC firms need to spend time finding the correct type of companies that fit their investment thesis and criteria.

Since most venture capital profits come from a small percentage of investments, a slight improvement in selecting potential investments can significantly improve the fund results.

At 4Degrees, we work with hundreds of venture capital firms that use our relationship intelligence technology to source more deals faster and streamline their due diligence process by leveraging the power of their relationship networks and streamlining their investment process.

Improving Deal Sourcing with Relationship Intelligence

4Degrees is a relationship management (CRM) platform built for Venture Capital, investment banking, and PE firms by ex-VCs who experienced firsthand the power of their relationship networks when sourcing and evaluating deals and identifying connections that changed the trajectory of their portfolio companies.

In our experience, firms leveraging their networks can punch above their weight and deliver above-average returns. And we are not alone. According to research from Harvard Business School, nearly 70% of venture capital deals come from connections from the investor’s network, making it worthwhile for VC professionals to spend time building and nurturing their relationships.

This article will review the four ways forward-looking venture capital firms source new companies using relationship intelligence. This technology generates actionable insights into your team’s network based on data.

1. Building a Warm Inbound Deal Sourcing Network

Warm inbound deal sourcing can significantly increase the number of high-quality companies introduced to a VC firm. These startups have already been somewhat vetted by the referrers who understand the VC firm’s investment thesis and what they are looking for in a potential investment.

To build a network for warm inbound sourcing, many VC firms foster relationships with professionals exposed to promising startups before knowledge of the company becomes widespread. Usually, this includes other venture capitalists, angel investors, investment bankers, accelerators, and other intermediaries or members of the technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Identifying and building relationships with these deal sources is easier said than done without the right technology.

If you are still relying on Excel spreadsheets and your email inbox, how do you know:

Who is making the most referrals to your firm?

Who in your network has the most significant impact on sourcing new deals?

Who in your firm has the strongest relationship with a potential intermediary?

When and how to reach out to key referral sources?

Using a relationship intelligence CRM platform lets you keep track of all your contacts and have access to updates and notifications to stay abreast of key events happening with your deal sources, giving you an authentic event-based reason to reach out. You can also set reminder cadences to ensure you stay engaged and top of mind with your best deal sources.

Building deeper relationships with your network is imperative to staying top of mind and developing an efficient deal-sourcing network.

2. Identifying Your Connections to Companies

Did you know that an associate from your firm went to school with the founder of a promising startup? Or that one of the angel investors you met at a networking event was an early investor in a company you are currently evaluating?

Relying on spreadsheets to track complex relationship datasets of who in your firm knows who is slowing your team down, resulting in missed opportunities.

By using non-purpose-built technology (Excel, generic CRMs, etc.), there is no way to know who all your team members are connected to, let alone the strength of their relationships with their connections.

The 4Degrees relationship strength score, automated contact enrichment, and other functionalities can instantly uncover connections you did not know existed without asking your team if they know anyone at X company, etc. By enriching your data with top-quality data sources, including Pitchbook and Crunchbase, your CRM will remain up to date without manually entering data.

With a few clicks, you can request a warm introduction with a better outcome than a cold email or call.

3. Keeping a List of Potential Startups in Your Network

Just because you pass on a potential deal today does not mean it will not be an exciting investment opportunity in the future. There are several reasons why a firm would pass on an investment, including valuation, stage, or many other factors.

Efficient investors keep a list of private companies and founders in their network that might be an attractive investment opportunity at a different time.

A relationship intelligence platform can automatically monitor specific metrics around these companies (updated valuations, new fundraising rounds, and executives, among others). Accessing all this data will give you the best time to re-engage and continue the conversation.

4. Keeping Track of Experts and Advisors

In venture capital, speed is the name of the game, especially when evaluating companies that other investors are also courting.

Yet before your investment committee decides whether to move a company down your deal pipeline and make an investment decision, you will most likely want to speak with a subject matter expert familiar with the industry or space in which the company operates.

Unfortunately, finding and booking time with specific experts or advisors can take a long time, be expensive, or both.

With a relationship intelligence CRM, you can effortlessly search for the type of advisor you are looking for, for example, a fintech expert who has experience working with the SEC and served on a board. Even if you are not directly connected to this individual, you can see who on your network knows them. That shared connection can warmly introduce or provide their contact information, allowing you to continue your due diligence. All this in a matter of minutes, not days or weeks.

Take Your Deal Flow to New Levels

Navigating the intricate maze of investment opportunities can often feel daunting, primarily when relying on outdated tools like spreadsheets, emails, and mere recollections of past conversations. This antiquated approach consumes excessive time and increases the risk of overlooking potential goldmines.

Leading venture capital and private equity firms are ushering in a new era of deal sourcing. They’re revolutionizing the landscape by integrating advanced processes and tools that harness the power of their relationship networks. This shift allows them to pinpoint high-caliber deals without the tediousness of cold outreach or sifting through endless spreadsheets and cluttered inboxes.

The message is clear for teams that aspire to be at the forefront of the investment world: adapt and evolve. Embracing the right processes and technology isn’t just a luxury—it’s a necessity to remain competitive and consistently source top-tier VC deals.

Are you interested in transforming your deal-sourcing strategy? Discover how 4Degrees can redefine how you source, manage, and seal the deal. Don’t miss out on the next big opportunity—click here to initiate a conversation with our expert team and elevate your investment game.

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