Sending regular investor updates is a great way to communicate with investors and form lasting relationships built on trust and transparency. It’s these relationships that get you ahead of the game in an otherwise overcrowded and very competitive market. By doing so, startups can strongly increase their chances of fundraising as well as follow-on funding.
Crafted in the right way, investor updates make your business one of the first that comes to mind. They are the key to unlocking access to the investor’s experience, knowledge, resources, and capital.
Looking to make your investor reports more impactful? Try using the tips we share further on what to include in investor updates, what figures, metrics, and data to share, how to shed light on your important wins and losses, and properly ask for help.
How sending investor updates makes a difference
When properly done, investor updates yield perks like the increased likelihood of follow-on funding, introductions to investors, partners, potential hires, and mentors, finding top talent, and domain-specific knowledge and experience.
Be greater than just asking for money in a crisis
If you want the best help your investors can offer, you have to keep them engaged. Your relationship needs more integrity than just asking for money in a crisis. If you want them in your corner, backing you all the way through, you have to make them invested in your story, with all the ups and downs.
Show your investors you care by sharing how well your startup is doing, including key business metrics and details about product development. Keeping them in the loop makes them feel personal about your business’ success. They feel like a true partner and want to help more.
Show yourself a reliable partner
With regular reports, you can impress investors with your due diligence. It won’t really matter if your figures aren’t too positive. Well-expressed, articulate updates prove to investors that you are a founder that can consistently make plans, deliver on them, and report back on them. It shows you are a reliable partner.
Hold yourself accountable
Investor updates can also be a means to hold yourself and the team accountable. Whether you’re still recovering from failure, celebrating success, or preparing for an upcoming product launch, sending regular reports to investors allows you to stay focused and committed to results.
Tips and templates for your investor update
An impactful investor update is personal, engaging, and easy to read. Bear in mind that most investors have over a hundred companies in their portfolios and receive 2-3 updates a day. So those that are data-driven and to the point will be more appreciated.
Add structure and be concise
An investor report with long blocks of dense text will not get you anywhere. If an investor had that much time to read, they would order a book from Amazon.
Make it brief and easy to skim. Use clear and direct language and a personal, friendly tone of voice. Use lots of white space. Start with the big picture and break up your investor report into sections highlighted with bold headlines.
If there’s an important matter or a big ask for help, make it bold and highlight it, so there’s no way to miss it.
Updates for potential investors should be no longer than a page. You may make it longer and dive deeper into details for more interested parties. Just pull all the significant details to the first page.
Visualize data to get the point across quicker
Simple text with structure and bullet points works well most of the time. Use visuals only if it helps understand metrics better and saves the investor’s time. For instance, you can try dashboards with graphs that are presented in a more conceivable format and easy on the eye. Combine them with short descriptions to provide some background.
Numbers at the top, stories at the bottom
The main point of an investor update is to let your investors know about the health of your startup. Reports made up of nothing but stories and highlights are a waste of time. The investor does want to hear about your successes and developments, but only if they underline the business story.
Investors want to see facts and figures. That’s why we recommend putting these sections at the top of your investor report:
1. Personal greeting, summary, and short pitch
We recommend starting with a personalized greeting, a brief progress summary, and a short company pitch. Here's an example for you to use as an investor update template:
I wanted to share an update for April as it was a very fruitful month.
For the last two years, we’ve been working hard to develop our personalized streaming platform and make it a household name. We now have over 7,000 paid subscribers, up by 30% from 3 months ago. Our mission is not only to deliver personalized playlists from our library but also to expand our catalog by listening to what users would like to see and bringing it to our platform. By making deals with other streamers out there, we bring more content to our viewers.
We now have a PMF score of 25% and hope to double that via product development by next year.
2. Quick highlights you want to focus attention on
Highlights set the tone for the whole update and give your investor a quick summary of business events and achievements. This is a good example of what you might want to share here:
Revenue is up 15% since our last update.
We’re scaling up our expedited delivery service and plan to bring in more sales.
We finally closed Costco for a major partnership and product showcase deal.
Big-time hire — we closed John Doe from Blizzard as our new VP of Engineering.
3. Summary of key business metrics
The first question that comes to an investor's mind is “How long is your runway?”. Updates should feature the business fundamentals, including income, costs, profit-and-loss, growth, and other forms of progress. Investors use these metrics to gauge the health of your startup.
Focus on things you are working hard to accomplish or want to improve. Here’s a quick template as an example:
Runway: 8 months
MRR: $200k (+9% MoM)
Burn: $180k (+14% MoM)
Paid Subscribers: 16,000 (+11% MoM)
Free Trial Users: 50
Last Month CAC: $5,500
Last Month LTV: $25,000
4. Important milestones achieved
Ideally, you should showcase the milestones that were laid out in your pitch deck or a previous update. But if you don’t have those, any large steps forward toward your goals will do. We hope you find this template helpful:
We closed our first 4-figure MRR / $50k ARR customer.
The one-month trial program we launched two months ago has given a 25% increase in new subscriptions.
We’ve revamped the catalog’s user interface and the feedback so far has been very positive. We can see better engagement from our online customers.
We’re about to launch a global marketing campaign and expect it to significantly increase the number of subscribers and diversify our acquisition channels.
5. Problems & asking for help
Don’t be afraid to reveal your failures and struggles. Turn them into an opportunity to ask for the investor’s advice on a certain business matter. Allow them to share their experience. Most people love to help others when they get the opportunity.
Some founders ask for help at the end of an update but we recommend moving this section higher up, right after the important metrics and milestones. You can’t afford for the investor to miss it.
Use this section to request introductions and find exceptional talent. Highlight ways the investor can help you reach upcoming milestones. Take inspiration from these few examples:
We’re still seeing a high churn rate of customers from our paid acquisition efforts. Would love to hear any input if you have experience in this area.
We’re experiencing problems with rolling our personalization engine. We are lacking experience in AI development. Can you recommend a partner to come in and help? We can offer a paid consultant position.
We’d love to talk to content creators to learn more about the tools and techniques they use.
We’re looking for someone to act as CTO. Can you share any experience in choosing the right man for the job? Can you recommend a headhunter to help us?
More detailed descriptions of improved business activities, strategies, and developments should be placed further down for those who are more invested in your story. These are unique for every startup and may include:
6. Product development and gathered market knowledge
We have finally gotten Product X out of beta and into the hands of our users. Early signs show a big opportunity. We’ve increased usage by 25% week over week and have already exceeded our quarterly goal of 100 new users.
We announced integrations with Slack and Zoom. Users are extremely thrilled.
7. Customer acquisition and active users
Customer love keeps growing! New case studies and quotes added to our landing page. We’ve also been featured on Forbes as one of the top-growing advertising startups.
We are also getting better at converting free trial users. Last year we would have a 15% conversion while right now half of our trial accounts buy a paid subscription!
8. Sales and Marketing pipeline and targeting plan updates
Our sales team is on fire! We’ve recently closed two of our biggest clients to date: Sony and Audeze. Both are great logos to add to the list of companies who trust us.
9. Team upgrades with key hires and results gained
We just hired John Doe to head up our sales team. They bring 15 years of professional experience and are going to be a great fit. Our goals are to increase figures by 20%.
We hired Ann Smith as our first VP of product development. Ann was a product owner at Oracle for the last 6 years and has seen the success of 15 enterprise-level projects. She already put key processes back on track and in full motion
10. New programs/tools implemented or upgraded
We've integrated a smart AI bot to help with our customer support issues. It's been a real relief to see improvement.
We've moved to Slack to support our cross-team communication and feel really good about it. It's a lifesaver, especially for a diverse and decentralized team such as ours.
11. Press coverage, great news, and investor spotlight
We were featured in TechCrunch which led to 173 trial customers and 8 new users.
12. Your strategy for the upcoming period and next moves.
Developing our targeting pipeline remains the biggest priority. We are currently focused on building a free trial customer flow. We have also invested in ads and sales tech.
We are set to fill senior marketing, sales, and customer success roles and reach $45,000 in revenue for the next quarter.
Updating investors at different stages of a startup
The content of an investor report may differ based on the maturity of your startup. For a pre-revenue or seed company, a light update with highlights of your triumphs and milestones achieved should do the trick. A growing startup with secured funding should prepare an investor update covering everything from granular financials to team updates, and product development.
For pre-seed and seed startups
At an early stage, investors look into how your product is developing and where it’s headed. They are interested in how long your company can survive with current funding. For metrics, include your runway, cash-in-hand, expenses, and burn rate. As for the sections, it’s important to include the highlights, milestones, product development, and problems with asks for help.
For series A and later-stage startups
For later-stage startups, the focus shifts to performance and hitting milestones. At this stage the startup has secured one or more rounds of funding, so investors are more interested in learning about internal processes and would like a more in-depth report. So share as much as you can and include performance metrics like revenue and Net profit, customer acquisition numbers, and KPIs for your sector.
Updates for angel investors vs venture capitalists
Angel investors like to have a more personal relationship with founders. They tend to be more interested in the stories you tell about the company, the inner workings, and the details of it all. They like to take a hands-on approach and work closely with entrepreneurs to achieve their goals.
So be free to share all the details and sections we’ve listed above. Angel investors are very keen on offering their mentorship, advice, and introductions to other investors and venture capitalists.
With VCs on the other hand, it’s nothing personal and just business. Think of your update as an elevator pitch. You should only provide the key details and facts.
Include the highlights, metrics, and milestones to get them hooked. Use fewer stories about product development, customer acquisitions, team updates, etc. Take out anything you can do without. Reduce the number of metrics and showcase those that are amazing and can spark up someone's interest. And don’t forget your asks for help!
How often should you send investor updates?
A short answer is every time you have news to share, get it out there. But don’t overdo it as you don’t want to get on the investor’s nerves. The most frequent updates come during active fundraising rounds. At this fruitful time, you may want to deliver updates weekly or bi-weekly.
Otherwise, as a general rule, we would recommend sending updates quarterly. It’s enough time to gather some incredible news. However, most investors won’t mind if you send a monthly update. Especially if your startup is still young and working to reach product-market fit. At an early stage, you will have a lot to share and many questions to ask.
If you’re looking for a more solid approach, Christopher Mirabile, an active angel investor and managing director at Launchpad Venture Group, provides a peculiar formula:
A string of financials once a year.
A complete and structured update once a quarter.
A very brief informal update (a couple of wins, losses, and asks) every two months.
Declines and no replies: how to react and spark up interest?
We encourage founders to treat a no-reply or a pass-on investment as a “not right now” type of answer. The reasons for the “not right now” can vary and be temporary just as a startup’s revenue, traction, and business model can change as it matures. Reply to the “not right now” investors politely and ask them if it’s okay to keep them updated on your progress.
Follow up on no replies and try to ask them for some kind of feedback. It’ll be great if you have news to share like a new product or prototype. If you still get no replies after 1-2 follow-ups, we suggest you move on and focus on those who are excited about your project.
Tips to make updates more engaging
To battle the “not right nows” you have to make your investor updates more engaging. Other than the tips we already provided, we earnestly advise you to support your business stories with more visuals. Most investors agree that they respond better to graphic content.
Here are some ways to use visuals and make your investor report irresistible to read:
Display your company logo: branding makes your investor update feel professional.
Present a dashboard of metrics: organized and supported by graphs.
Support milestones, stories, and achievements with charts, tables, and photos.
Use GIFs or other types of animation to demo product features.
How and where to send your investor updates
Typically, investor reports are sent by email. Most investors are adamant email users. You can simplify and automate the process by using email marketing services like Mailchimp. Another way to go is to contact investors on social media like LinkedIn and Twitter. But these can only be used for limited quick updates.
However, the majority of angel investors and venture capitalists source their deals from referrals. Generally, they come from a network of people an investor trusts. The only way to get referrals is by meeting these people in person while visiting the right forum or special event.
So what can you do if you don’t have the opportunity to travel and visit conferences and forums? Luckily, there’s a great alternative and it is special networking platforms.
Platforms like GoGlobalWorld are somewhat of an investor relationship hub for startup founders. The platform gains access to a large community of verified investors, founders, and advisors from Silicon Valley and all over the world.
By joining the platform, you will no longer need to seek introductions. You can easily add to your list of potential investors by swiping left or right through a list created personally for you with AI-powered matchmaking.
No need to break the ice, your startup profile will give investors a quick preview. Like having an elevator talk moment, it lets you give an investor a short pitch as well as a brief progress update. Using a built-in messenger, you can always share your latest achievements and keep your investors engaged.