Entrepreneur Office Hours - Issue #43

Some practical startup advice (for a change!)

Admittedly, I sometimes get bogged down in the more philosophical parts of entrepreneurship. Or fundraising. Either way, neither topic helps the day-to-day work of entrepreneurs.

This issue of Entrepreneur Office Hours is much more practical. You’ll get specific advice on how not to start emails, and some slightly less specific advice on how to get your first customers and how to find co-founders. Plus, the Q&A covers international fundraising strategies. OK… I guess that’s technically about fundraising, but it’s a practical question with a practical answer.

And if none of that interests you, this week’s Web Masters features a guest you’ll be very excited about if you’re between the ages of 35 and 50. It’s Barry Appelman, the person who created AOL Instant Messenger. Thanks to him, we all wasted way too many hours trying to come up with the perfect away message.

Thanks, as always, for the great questions. Keep ‘em coming. And when you’ve finished sending your questions, don’t forget to press the “forward” button on your email client and send this issue of EOH to everyone you know.


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Nobody Reads Emails from Entrepreneurs That Begin with These 5 Phrases

Entrepreneurs send lots of emails. If you want lots of responses, make sure you’re starting them the right way.

The CTO Who Secretly Created Buddy Lists

Instant messaging is almost as old as the Internet itself, but it didn't become popular until America Online released its famous instant messaging service, AIM. That wouldn't have happened if not for the guest on this episode of Web Masters, Barry Appelman.

Listen to Barry’s story now on:

…or search “Web Masters” wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

How to Get Your Startup’s First Customers

Getting your first customers is hard, and most startups struggle with early customer acquisition for the same simple reason.

What Everyone Gets Wrong About Finding Great Startup Co-Founders

The relationship between co-founders can feel like a marriage. Don't let that fool you. Choosing co-founders should be nothing like choosing your spouse.

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Office Hours Q&A



How can I share my plan and ideas with international investors, so that they can respond and show interest in my start up?




I’m going to admit upfront that I’m by no means an expert in international fundraising and any sort of “gotchas” that might be related to it, particularly from a legal perspective, tax implications, etcetera. So be sure you speak with someone appropriate about those kinds of things.

However, logistically, your criteria and strategy for targeting investors in other countries shouldn’t be any different than your approach for targeting any investors.

By that I mean your first priority -- IN EVERY FUNDRAISING PROCESS -- is to find investors with an investment thesis that matches what you’re pitching. That includes industry, stage, business type, etcetera. And, in your case, if you’re in a different country than the investors you’re targeting, it will also mean making sure the investors you’re targeting are willing/interested/able to invest in foreign markets. In fact, so far as I can tell, that’s pretty much the only difference.

Again, I’m not an expert on the legal/logistical hurdles of international fundraising. But investors are investors no matter what country you’re coming from. If that investor is willing to invest in companies anywhere in the world (or, even better, certain regions of the world), then being “international” won’t matter. If the opportunity is right, the investor will consider it.

Conversely, if that investor explicitly doesn’t invest in your geographic region (or has no history of doing anything like it), don’t waste your time. Again, location is no different than any other factor comprising an investor’s investment thesis. No matter how great your startup is, it’s not going to magically convince investors to violate their personal rules for investing.

From there, the process should be identical. Send a succinct email introducing yourself and try to get a conversation started.

The good news is, because of the pandemic, investors are much more willing to meet remotely. So long as you don’t mind having conversations in the middle of the night (for you), you can reach out to investors anywhere in the world. Good luck!

Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!