How to raise funds with OpenVC

Posted by Stéphane Nasser | February 16, 2023

Welcome, founder!

In 5 minutes, you will know exactly how to use OpenVC to raise funds for your startup.

Table of Contents

Getting started with OpenVC

1. What is OpenVC and is it right for me?

OpenVC allows tech founders to directly connect with investors.

On OpenVC, you will find 2,000+ verified investors - VCs, angels, accelerators - who signed up to OpenVC and want to receive qualified deal flow.

Our service is completely free - no commission, no subscription. We monetize via premium features and advertising.

But... it doesn't work for everyone.

OpenVC works better if you have positive signal such as:

  • some traction, including user growth or revenue growth
  • a founding team with a non-zero track record
  • some of your round already secured

If you are at idea stage, investor outreach will not work great for you. However, you can still use OpenVC to prepare your raise as you bootstrap and build your product and traction.

The only exception is exited founders: if you have previously built and sold a company, investors will be keen to connect with you, even at the idea stage.

2. Does OpenVC charge for investor introductions?

No.

We don't charge a success fee, and we don't paywall access to investors. You can raise $10M via OpenVC and never pay us one dollar.

The only product we sell is our OpenVC Membership. It costs $99/month or just $288/year and unlocks advanced features, extra perks, and allows you to reach out to more investors per day.

If you want to raise faster and support us, consider becoming an OpenVC Premium member.

3. How to sign up and get started

Go to openvc.app and click "Sign up", then "I'm a founder".

Fill in the first page with your personal information: 

  • Use your real name. This information will be shared with investors.
  • Use a nominative, professional email such as [email protected].
    • Don't use a generic email such as [email protected]. Investors don't like communicating with a random mailbox.
    • Don't use a free email such as [email protected]. It doesn't look professional.

Then click "Next" and move on to your Company profile. Type in the name of your company and:

  • If your company already exists on OpenVC, just select it. You may have to be approved by a colleague or co-founder, or we may send you an email asking to provide evidence of your relation with this company.
  • If your company doesn't already exist on OpenVC, create a new company:
    • Include a meeting link. This will allow investors to directly book a call with you if they like your deck. If you don't already have one, you can create a free account with Calendly, Cal.com, Vimcal or similar scheduling tools.
    • Pick 3 to 6 keywords to describe your company. This works better if you use the suggested keywords (e.g. pick "proptech" instead of "construction"). No worries, you will be able to edit this later.

Once you sign up, you will receive a validation link to your email address. Click the link to activate your account and you're in! 

4. How to find the right investors on OpenVC

Targeting the right investors is key to raising funds successfully.

OpenVC helps you target the right investors by investment thesis: 

  • Verticals: These are keywords that relate to the themes of investment such as fintech, SaaS, ecommerce, female founders, sustainability, etc. Type in anything and use the dropdown list to get relevant suggestions. The more keywords, the more accurate.
  • Company HQ: This is your country where your company is incorporated. It does matter. Many investors will invest in US-based companies while very few will invest in Cuba or Iran. Just enter one value for the most accurate results.
  • Company stage: Investors usually talk about funding rounds, such as "seed" or "Series A". However, these terms are often blurry. At OpenVC, we would rather think in terms of the company stage: idea, prototype, early revenue, scaling, growth, and pre-IPO.
  • Round size: Use this filter to focus on investors who invest within the range of your current round size (in USD).

OpenVC also provides Power Search for Premium users. These filters help you be more productive in your fundraising efforts.

  • Solicitation level: Target investors who have received no deck this week and are more likely to look at yours.
  • Outreach mode: Some investors on OpenVC accept direct email. Other have an online form set up to receive deal flow. Others require warm intros only. This filter allows you to filter by outreach mode and focus on the ones you're most interested in.
  • Investors type: OpenVC lists down 10 types of investors ranging from angel investors to family offices. Use this filter to target the type you're most interested in.
  • Check size: Filter investors by the smallest check and largest check they cut.
  • Investor HQ: You may prefer to chose investors close to you, this is what this filter is for.
  • Verified status: The Verified status is granted to investors who provided us with verified information about their firms, so their data is most reliable.

Once you run a search, results are ranked by match score. However, the matching score is not 100% reliable, so you should always read the Funding requirements before reaching out.

When investors receive too much deal flow in the past 7 days, the "Submit deck" is temporarily disabled and a warning message is displayed. Just try again in a few days.

5. An investor profile says "Intro preferred". What should I do?

At OpenVC, we believe in letting people choose what works for them.

Some investors only accept intros. They are marked as "intro preferred". If you click their link, you will be directed to their LinkedIn page and may try to find a mutual connection (or message them directly via LinkedIn).

It can be frustrating, but at least, you know that these investors exist and what they invest in.

Other investors accept deal flow via an online form, such as Typeform or Google Forms. Just click the "Submit deck" button and follow the instructions.

Obviously, we're working hard to make as many investors accept direct cold emails via OpenVC. Keep reading to learn how to reach out to those open investors.

Reaching out to investors like a pro

6. How to build my investor shortlist on OpenVC

Before reaching out to investors, build a solid shortlist.

To do that, start from the "Search investors" menu and browse our list of 6,000+ investors. When you find an investor that seems like a good fit, just click "Add to Shortlist".

Rinse and repeat until you have gone through all the investors in our database. All your shortlisted investors will be waiting for you in the "My shortlist" menu.

You can also manually add investors that are NOT on OpenVC. Just click the button "Add manually" and fill the fields.

Just like that, you can centralize 100% of your investor shortlist in one place, ready to take action.

7. How to email my first investor via OpenVC

Most investors on OpenVC accept cold emails. You can identify them with the logo below.

Before emailing investors, read our guide "How to write a top 1% email to VCs". The first impression matters a lot, so make sure to maximize your chances!

Once you click submit deck, you will go through a 3-step process.

  1. Confirm fit: Review the investment thesis and make sure that this investor is a good fit for you. If you email too many wrong investors, we will block your access to OpenVC.
  2. Pick recipient: Sometimes, a fund may have several contact points. Use this step to pick the best recipient for your deck.
  3. Submit deck: Here, you will write your email subject, email body, and attach your pitch deck.

After you sent your first email, wait.

OpenVC filters all deal flow that goes to investors. It usually takes 24 hours (except on weekends) and rarely up to 72 hours.

If your submission is rejected, no worries. You will be notified by email quickly. Then, fix your email and deck, and resubmit. Take this as an opportunity to maximize your chances.

If your submission is approved, you will be notified by email and the investor will receive your email as well. If the investor is interested, he will reply to you directly by email. OpenVC doesn't act as a middleman.

8. How to craft a top 1% cold email with OpenVC

Investors get spammed with low-quality deal flow all the time. At OpenVC, we insist that our users send top 1% cold emails. Lucky you, we help with that! 

Our emailing module guides you with examples and real-time insights on how to craft your cold email, including email subject, email body, and pitch deck.

See below examples for the email subject. Note that the subject is limited to 54 characters.

See below real-time insights for the email body, highlighted in pink. Note that the body is limited to 1,200 characters.

Once your email is written, try enhancing it with our new AI feature (BETA).

Just click "Enhance with AI" and see your email being rewritten. Fair warning: This is still a beta feature and AI makes mistakes. Always proofread your email before sending!

Free users get 3 AI enhancements per month and Premium members get 100 enhancements per month.

9. How to attach my pitch deck with OpenVC

When it comes to pitch decks, OpenVC gives you two options:

  • Use the OpenVC deck viewer. Just upload a PDF, it's 100% free and includes deck tracking, automatic follow-up, and CRM integration. Recommended.
  • Use a third-party deck viewer (DocSend, Dropbox). It may be convenient if you already use one but you won't benefit from the features listed above.
VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure to whitelist OpenVC with your email client! We will send you email notifications when investors reply to you. See here how to whitelist OpenVC.

10. What do investors see when I email them via OpenVC?

When investors receive your email, this is what it looks like: 

You will notice that your pitch deck is automatically inserted at the end of the email and acts as the call to action.

The email comes from our [email protected] email address, which most investors have whitelisted. When the investor clicks "Reply", it's your email address which is used. OpenVC gets out of the conversation and you engage in a direct relationship with the investor.

11. Reaching out to more investors via OpenVC

Once your first email has been approved, you can reach out to more investors.

Free users can reach out to 3 investors per day while Premium members get 5 per day.

Don't forget to save your email template (see here how to do it) so you don't need to rewrite it every time. Just give it a quick AI enhancement to customize for each investor.

Similarly, your pitch deck is automatically saved with the OpenVC deck viewer. A unique link is generated for each investor, so you can track them individually with zero manual work on your end. If your deck has changed, click "Use another deck" to upload the new version, and you're good to go.

Getting replies from investors via OpenVC

12. How can I track my email status?

You can track your submissions in real-time in your OpenVC CRM.

When logged in, go to your Fundraising page, then click "Go to CRM". There, you will see a list of all your past submissions and their current status:

  • OpenVC review: Your submission is pending review by OpenVC. We review deal flow every ~24 hours, except on weekends.
  • Sent via OpenVC: Your email was approved by OpenVC and sent to the investor
  • Rejected by OpenVC: Your email was not approved by OpenVC and was not sent to the investor.
  • Investor interested: The investor has clicked the "I'm interested" button on his OpenVC interface. They usually book a meeting directly in your calendar (if you have included a calendar link) or reply to you via email.
  • Investor declined: The investor has clicked the "Pass for now" button on his OpenVC interface. They usually provide a short explanation with that.
  • Ignored: If the investor doesn't reply to your deck within 15 days, we mark it as "Ignored".

13. I got an error message from an investor. What should I do?

From time to time, you may email an investor via OpenVC and receive an email like this.

This usually happens when an investor leaves a fund and doesn't update their profile on OpenVC.

We see these messages and clean up the outdated profiles quickly, so no need to report it to us - but we appreciate your help!

14. Should I use the OpenVC deck viewer?

Yes, you should.

If you already have your deck hosted on another service like DocSend or Pitch.com, we give you the option to use that.

However, the OpenVC deck viewer gives you additional benefits and is completely free:

  • Tracking: The OpenVC deck viewer tracks deck views and view durations. All the metrics are automatically logged in your OpenVC CRM, so you have everything in one place.
  • Experience: The OpenVC deck viewer automatically generates a unique link for each investor, which is better for you (less manual work) and for investors (no signup).
  • Follow-up: All decks sent via our deck viewer benefit from an automatic follow-up twice in the next two weeks.
  • Replies: The OpenVC deck viewer collects "pass or fail" from investor with a smooth UX that maximizes investor replies.

We built our deck viewer to offer you a seamless and robust solution. If you're serious about raising via OpenVC, it's probably the right choice.

15. How to use the OpenVC CRM

The OpenVC CRM allows you to run your fundraising efficiently. It is completely free for all founders.

Everytime you email an investor via OpenVC, a new record is added to your CRM, so you don't need to create it manually. If you use the OpenVC deck viewer, the deck is automatically linked to the record and all the metrics are pulled into the CRM. No manual work required.

You can also use the OpenVC CRM to track your non-OpenVC conversations. Just click "Add manually" and enter the information.

16. How to follow up with investors on OpenVC

If you are using the OpenVC deck viewer, OpenVC will automatically follow up with each investor twice in the next two weeks. You have nothing to do.

You can see the follow-up progress directly in your OpenVC CRM, in Table view:

For investors, it is typical to not reply if they are not interested. So if you don't receive an answer after two follow-ups, you can safely consider there's no opportunity here - and we will mark the Status as "Ignored" in the CRM.

If you are not using the OpenVC deck viewer, we cannot follow up automatically for you, since we don't know whether the investor has replied.

17. How to get more investor replies

Use the OpenVC deck viewer.

The OpenVC deck viewer includes two buttons that allows investors to confirm their interests and book a call with you, or to decline the deal and provide feedback.

Investor feedback gets directly reported into your OpenVC CRM, so you get an overview of how you perform and why investors pass on the opportunity.

Managing your OpenVC account

18. How can I change my email address used with investors?

To do that, please create a new OpenVC founder account with the email address you want.

At sign up, associate your new account with your existing startup. Your new account will be able to access all the data of the existing account and email investors from your new address.

Problem solved :)

19. How can I change the name of my startup?

If you are starting a new startup, create a new OpenVC account. Do not reuse an old OpenVC account for a new startup. If you had a Premium membership on your old account, email us at [email protected] and we will transfer it from your old to your new account.

If you are renaming your startup, then email us at [email protected] and we will modify the startup name for you.

19. How can I edit my startup information?

When you sign up, you are asked to provide some information about your startup.

If you want to update that information, just log in to OpenVC, click on your profile picture, then "My startup".

Then, you will be able to access 3 tabs:

  • Overview, for general startup information
  • Outreach, to update your email template and meeting link
  • Fundability, to update your fundability signals

We use this information to show you the most relevant investors, so make sure it is accurate and update it accordingly.

20. How can I save my email template for future use?

Once your first email has been approved, you will want to send more. But you don't want to type in the same message again and again. No worries, we got you covered.

Head to your profile picture (top right), then select "My startup", and the tab "Outreach". There, you can save and edit your scheduling link, your email subject, and your email body.

Keep in mind that customization is key! Even if you have an email template, you should customize it for every investor you reach you to if you want to get replies.

21. How can I add my team on OpenVC?

OPenVC allows you to add an unlimited amount of team members, for free. Every team member can edit your startup profile, access your Fundraising CRM and reach out to investors on the behalf of your company.

If you want to add your co-founders or team members to your OpenVC account, just log in to OpenVC, go to your CRM, click "More" and "Invite team members".

Your team members will receive an email inviting them to join OpenVC. When signing up, your team members need to select your company in the dropdown list (see image below). Then, you will receive an automated email with an approval link to be clicked.

That's it! Your team is now on OpenVC.

22. I want to access my invoices or cancel my Premium account

Log in to your OpenVC account, then in the left menu, go to "My profile", then "My billing" and log in to your Stripe portal with the email address your used for payment. There, you will be able to access your invoices and cancel your Premium account.

23. I want to delete my OpenVC account

Just email [email protected] from the email address that is linked to your startup and write "DELETE MY OPENVC ACCOUNT". All the data related to your account (startup, team members, submissions) will be deleted. This will be done ASAP and a confirmation email will be sent to you.

If you have a Premium membership, make sure to cancel it BEFORE deleting your account!

NB: Please note that the deletion is definitive. There is no way to recover your data!

Making the most of your OpenVC account

24. Very important: whitelist OpenVC with your email client

We will send you investor replies via the email address [email protected].

Therefore, you must make sure this address is whitelisted with your email client.

Here's a 1-min tutorial to do it. 

25. What other resources do you offer?

Reaching out to investors is only half of the battle. As a founder, you need to educate yourself on fundraising, surround yourself with the right ecosystem, and much more.

Check out our free resources section for more tools:

  • OpenDeck.app: 1,500+ startup slides sorted by category
  • OpenMap: An interactive world map showing where investors are located
  • FundraisingAdvisors.app: A list of the best fundraising advisors for startups
  • Fundability.app: A 7-min test that tells you how fundable your startup is
  • PitchDeckExperts.app: A list of the best pitch deck designers for startups
  • Webinars: A monthly cycle of webinars to learn how to raise like a pro
  • OpenVC Premium members also get access to Premium resources:

The OpenFlow page allows investors to browse a selection of anonymized startups currently raising funds. You can see it here.

The startups on OpenFlow are anonymized. Investors only see generic information such as country, industry, growth rate so they can request an intro. The founder can accept the request (and be connected with the investor) or ignore the request (and remain anonymous.)

This is a new feature. We're still experimenting with it and testing it with a small number of investors and founders.

To maximize your chances to be listed as a founder:

  • Complete the Fundability test. We use that data to highlight the strongest points of your startup in OpenFlow.
  • Make sure to whitelist [email protected] with your email client. See here for instructions. Founders with low deliverability will not be included in the program.

We hope to announce soon a launch of OpenVC Flow to all founders. Meanwhile, you can email [email protected] if you don't want to be featured on OpenFlow (or just ignore the requests).

27. What is the OpenVC Premium Membership?

All the core features of OpenVC are open and free. You can absolutely raise funds via OpenVC and never pay us one dollar.

However, advanced features are available for users who want even more value from OpenVC.

A Premium membership will get you:

  • Reach out to 5 investors per day versus 3 with a free membership
  • Unlock Power Search with 5 advanced filters and target investors like never before
  • Get an insane $2M in software discount, and instantly pay off your membership
  • Access the OpenVC Masterclass and in just 4 hours, learn everything you need to know to raise funds successfully

By getting a Premium membership, you're also supporting our little team at OpenVC to build and grow more!

The Membership only costs $99/mo or just $288/year.

I have more questions about OpenVC

OpenVC is a young project and we need your feedback to improve! 

Please use the chatbox to share your thoughts, we try to reply within 24 hours.

Thank you for using OpenVC and best of luck with your fundraising!

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