Governance/Risk Management

You’ve Got VC Money: Investor Updates

Authors: Andrew Shawber

Should I Send Out Investor Updates?

While generally not required, it is a good idea to send out regular investor updates (at least quarterly) to establish relationships with your investors, keep them informed, and potentially get ahead of any bad news that may arise. After you’ve established a solid rapport with investors, asking them for things (such as signatures or approval of certain transactions) becomes much easier. Also, when you send regular investor updates, stockholders will care a lot less about holding annual stockholder meetings, which are legally mandated but rarely requested when investors are otherwise kept up to speed.

What Should Investor Updates Contain?

Here’s a rough template showing how to structure your investor update emails/letters (adapted from Nextview Ventures’ template):

TL/DR:

  • A summary of one or two sentences of the most important takeaways from the last update.
  • One sentence that reflects the mood of company management. Worried? Optimistic? Burned out?
  • Put any specific, high-priority asks here.

Highlights:

  • Include major wins and accomplishments.
  • Be sure to include goals achieved or exciting lessons learned from trying to achieve them.
  • Feel free to include items not part of the list of goals if they are important highlights.

Core Metrics:

  • Metric Name (e.g., “Monthly Active Users”).
  • Explain the data in a few short sentences above a screenshot of relevant charts, graphs, or tables. Include previous months for comparison.
  • Include three to five similar sections—one per metric—depending on the specifics of your business, your goals, and your current KPIs.

Challenges:

  • Include what didn’t go well. Many advisors and investors believe this the most important part of your update. You increase your credibility when you acknowledge the challenges you face, and even highly successful companies have issues to address.
  • Be sure to include what goals you missed and reflect on what you are learning from the experience.

Goals:

  • What are the top three things you are looking to accomplish in the next two to four weeks? Be specific, because you should revisit them in your highlights and challenges in the next update.

Asks and Kudos:

  • Be specific about your asks.
  • Call out people who helped you out. It makes the helper feel good and motivates everyone else to try to help in the future.

Finances:

  • Include only cash in the bank, burn rate, cash runway, and cash out date.
  • Call out any big, unexpected changes that meaningfully affect runway.
  • This section should move closer to the top if you are in danger of running out of cash.

Do I Need To Hold Annual Stockholder Meetings?

While regular investor updates are technically required, stockholders generally don’t care if you send them, per the above. Angry stockholders could technically require the company to hold a stockholder meeting if it hasn’t in a while. Stockholders who receive regular investor updates are far less likely to demand a meeting.

“Seasons” of VC Fundraising

A common misconception in the startup world is that venture capital (VC) fundraising grinds to a halt during the summer months. However, data from Carta Market Research challenges this notion, revealing that fundraising activities persist year-round, including during the traditionally “slow” summer period.