Planning Your Trip To Meet With UAE Family Offices & Oil Rich Investment Groups In 2022
Raising Capital right now in the UAE is 100% a game of outliers — it’s extreme competition.
1. Plan to Contact at Least 50 Investors locally
You’ll end up only having serious conversations with five, if that. Also, make sure this list is targeted and they invest in your sector. If you’re a biotech company, maybe a Construction or Real Estate Family Office investor isn’t the best bet. Do not spray and pray.
2. Relationship Building Is Crucial – Start Early
If you’re looking to build a company with a venture style of funding, you will be a fundraiser for at least the next five years of your life. A natural introvert? A great way to keep local Families engaged is to add them to a newsletter of quarterly updates. Shooting over a thoughtful whatsapp and quick news mention or a cool new feature release is an excellent way to remind investors you exist. It’s crucial to keep relationships going, even when you aren’t looking to raise money quite yet, or are too nascent for the investor’s target stage. Family is everything in the region, treat them as one of your own. This will not go un-noticed.
3. The Family Community Is Small, Don’t Burn Bridges
In the region, they all talk in the evenings and at other social gatherings. This happens normally on a weekly basis. Remember, no money moves from the bank account unless the principle says so. Family Offices in the Middle East are holding structures and not an external single account with managers. The title above is pretty self-explanatory. The Family Office community is shockingly small in the Middle East let along just the UAE. Any burned bridges may eventually come back to bite you, particularly when you are looking to raise funds. My best advice? Don’t burn bridges – you never know when a past relationship will come back to haunt you.
4. Build Passion Into Your Pitch Everyday
The hardest job you will have as a CEO is keeping the passion alive, and as hard as it may be, it is your responsibility to bring that passion every time you pitch. This is more than just for investor meetings, but for when you pitch candidates and employees. Passion keeps engagement and retention high and keeps employees from checking out. Similarly, Families here want to know that building your company is your passion, and exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life.
5. My Rule In The UAE Is - Follow Up Three Times
Absolutely follow up three times with an Family Group here. No, you will not be scaring them away. Now, don’t do it over a two-day span, but over a two- to three-week period. Follow up quickly and consistently. With fundraising as your highest priority, ensure you have a couple of partners to help you manage the communication. Fundraising is a big and vital project and should be treated as such. Hiring someone locally, who would just manage the communication, or help send out collateral is a full time Job. Most deals do not happen here as groups give up after one or two follow ups, refusing to return to the region to keep up the momentum.
6. Decide Between Selling Metrics Vs. Selling a Big Vision
Your goal when pitching to a local Family is not to have people join your religion, but to convince them that your business is one worth investing in, and will make the Family money. Depending on your business and the stage of your business you may need to decide whether it’s better to pitch the hype or your strong metrics. Strong metrics that are eating the competition mean that you may not need to sell the dream because real metrics say the business is working. However, putting yourself against competition can be tricky, particularly if they are large companies. Investors will be disengaged if you pose yourself as a scrappy team of 5 or 6 taking on a company of 300.
7. Prequalify Your Family
Pitching to Family Offices shouldn’t feel like a monologue of 20 facts listed by order of importance. Be sure to make pitching a dialogue, which entails prequalifying an investor. “ It’s shocking how few people ask what is my investment criteria" Prequalify investors to maximize everyone’s time. Quickly establish the investor’s investment criteria. Before going into your full pitch, find out if an investor can provide the minimum capital you’re looking for and if they invest in your sector.
8. Don’t Run Your Business Like Raising Money Is the Main Objective
While your main goal as CEO is to fundraise, you need to be careful not to run your business as such. That means not telling your employees that you need this particular story to be told when raising capital, whether it be a Series A or B or otherwise. No employee wants to be working at a company that’s always running to raise the next round.
9. Practice Your Pitches
Lastly, identify your top 10 to 20 Families in the region who invest in companies like you, are top-tier, or are competitors of competitor investors. Then put this list aside. When raising capital you want to practice your pitch with “junk investors,” and wait until your pitch feels organic. Junk investors aren’t necessarily bad investors, but they are the investors you’re okay not getting your pitch perfect with or not winning. Strategically select when and who to talk to, because you won’t get a second chance to pitch right.
Happy Fund Raising!