Leveraging your investors/advisors is all about effective communication. A few weeks ago, I shared how Sam Corcos ensures his updates are effective at activating his investor network. This week, we’ll talk about using a different medium - WhatsApp (WA).
But first, let’s talk about the standard approach to communicating with investors - the investor email list.
Email lists are valuable, but the email format has a lot of disadvantages. The most limiting one being that it assumes a more formal and lengthy writing style. This verbosity impacts both the sender and the receiver.
On the sender side, founders avoid writing emails knowing they take time to fit the expectations of the medium. On the receiver side, investors/advisors scan emails and will often innocently set aside certain emails for later that they know will take more time to process. Update emails from portcos frequently fall into this bucket…
And overall, whether priority or not, sitting in an investor's inbox is a bad place to be. It’s an ocean that gets thrashed around by a raging storm dumping more and more emails throughout the day. Even important emails often get swept away.
One strategy I’ve seen work very well is the use of a WA group for investors.
WA or any other short-form messaging addresses many of the aforementioned issues with email by allowing founders and investors to engage with small snippets of information in a channel that has less noise. When interactions require far less time commitment, a founder can build engagement momentum and more readily pull value out of a very valuable group of supporters.
The insight of using WA for investor groups is not actually unique. Some of you have probably heard founders talk about how much more interaction they got from their investors when they put them in a WA group. Simply knowing that an investor WA group is possible and worthwhile does you very little though. As is the case with many pieces of online advice, the headline teases value but doesn't actually give any tactical value.
I’ll try to be different…
Here are five tips around setting up a WA group for your cap table:
WhatsApp and email lists are not mutually exclusive.
Hopefully this removes one anxiety you had about choosing to test out the WA approach.
Different investors have different comfort levels with technology (ironic i know) and use different communication tools so it's nice to maintain long-form updates in email. Even if you set up a WA or short-form messaging group with your investors, that doesn't mean you have to get rid of your email updates. Email can remain a viable medium for you to keep a paper trail of important updates.
When setting up your WA group, create a formal onboarding.
Beyond onboarding, establishing members of the group who will demonstrate participating is normal early on will help. No one ever wants to be the first one to jump in the pool or accept a party invite. Planting someone in the audience who leads the way in the early days can smooth out these participation bumps.
How? Just talk to a couple of the people you’re closest to in the group and ask them to be active with some of your posts. It makes a huge difference.
Make it a point to send short updates when things happen at the company, especially over the first few months. Shipping product, new hire landed, milestone achieved, etc are all candidates for a one-sentence message. This will make the WA group feel alive and set the example of short messages leading to…
Incorporate small, well defined asks into the channel. Then when people come through (good use of your planted moles from tip #3) make sure you recognize them in the channel. Showing a history of people actually helping within the group will apply pressure to the overall group to engage in the future when future requests come out.
(WhatsApp For The Win…)
If done well, this can be a very effective tool for engaging with your cap table and extracting the most value out of investors and advisors. Remember, as new investors come onto your cap table, onboard them to the group using the same approach you used in the beginning. Keep this as a community that supports each other as well as your company and you’ll find more value than you ever would out of an email list.
Side note: many times, you'll find that not only do you get a lot of value out of a group like this, but it will make it easier for your investors to interact with each other and establish closer relationships. This makes it a win win for everyone involved. WA FTW.