Inbound As a Way to Find Great Companies

Last week I chatted with a few investors at Venture Atlanta. With one group, the topic of sourcing came up. I’m always curious to hear how others think about identifying the companies they’ll invest in. I noticed that most of these people had a strategy that focused on driving inbound activity. They had different approaches to accomplishing this, but bottom line, they all involved founders reaching out to investors.

Inbound activity is great for investors, but I think it can also be a double-edged sword for early-stage investors. It’s reactive. Because investors are reacting to founders, the markets they end up investing in are limited by the communications from founders they happened to receive.

Markets matter a lot in venture capital investing. It’s hard to make a big impact on the world or realize outsize returns if you’re in the wrong market (one that’s small or hypercompetitive, for example).

Inbound activity is an important part of an investor’s strategy for finding companies, but it can’t be the strategy if you want to invest in the best founders building in the best markets. You’ll likely have to spend time thinking about what markets you want to be in and then go pursue the founders in those markets.