Launching Signal 1.0 — a Tool for Founders to Find the Right Investors
NFX Guild has a division called NFX Guild Labs that builds software. The software is for both internal and external use.
Last year, one of our internal projects for our Founders was a fundraising tool we called Signal. The idea was to cross reference all their Gmail accounts to find introduction paths, and then crowdsource information about investors so all the NFX Guild Founders could have faster, easier, higher quality fundraising processes.
It worked well, and we found that the more we all used it, the more valuable it became for everyone. As you might imagine, it created a network effect.
So we’ve decided to open it up for everyone to use. It’s free forever, of course. It’s now an open tool for the Founder/VC ecosystem. NFX Guild doesn’t make money by selling software, but by building community and investing in great founders. Here is Signal 1.0.
There’s a long way to go, so please give feedback. Send to email@example.com. We have a dedicated team who can build nearly anything, so please go through it (as described below) and see if you find bugs, find that things aren’t clear, or have an idea of what would make it work better for you.
It’s crowdsourced, so please edit investors profiles and add investors. The more of us use and edit Signal, the better everyone’s fundraising can become.
The mission of Signal is to decrease the noise and increase the signal for everyone touching the fundraising process — CEO’s, Investors and Advisors.
If you’re a CEO
1) Connect your Gmail. 98% of CEO’s do that. 2% sign in with user name and password. If you sign in with Gmail, it works about ten times better, but we understand privacy concerns. Just be clear, the system doesn’t pull the content of your emails, only the metadata about the emails like email address and name. That’s enough to let people see their paths to each other and get a pretty good measure of “relationship strength” between people.
2) Search and filter investors on “The BIG List” to see just the investors right for your stage and sector.
3) Add investors that are missing to the BIG List, and edit ones that are incomplete. This is a crowdsourced list, it needs your contributions.
4) Collect the short list of your target investors by clicking “Make Target” button next to their name on the BIG LIST. If you have a list of investors on a spreadsheet today and want to get your best introduction path to them, go to the Intro Paths page in the nav, then under the Add Target Investors link, paste your list of target investors. Once done, hit the “Reveal your best intro paths” button. You’ll then see a CSV file with all the data filled in for those investors, including who can introduce you to them. It’s kind of cool, and hopefully will save you a lot of time.
5) Export that CSV list to your spreadsheet of whatever tool you are using to manage your fundraising process.
If you’re an Investor
The reason you would use Signal is to get the right deals referred to you by the best people in your network. It’s not going to let random CEO’s spam you. Just the opposite. Right now, the people you trust to refer great companies to you are talking to 10’s of great CEO’s. Despite their affection for you, it’s hard for your referral network to remember which companies to send to you or not.
When you are connected to your referrers on Signal, you will show up more at the top of lists when those great CEO’s search for who to put on their short list of potential investors. All through the magic of interlocking Gmail accounts. Then they will ask your trusted sources for referrals to you. Also, when your referrers search the BIG list reminding themselves of the best investors they know, you will show up and they will remember more easily to make that CEO introduction to you.
You can further rise to the top of those searches by specifying what types of companies you are specifically looking for this quarter. Make sure to keep those fields updated. Further, you can reduce noise by specifying which types of deals you are specifically NOT looking for.
1) Connect with Gmail. 94% of investors connect with Gmail and 6% connect with user name and password. As we said above for the CEO’s, Signal works about ten times better if you use Gmail. But we understand privacy concerns. Just be clear, the system doesn’t pull the content of your emails, only the metadata about the emails like email address and name. That’s enough to let people see their paths to each other and get a pretty good measure of “relationship strength” between people.
2) Add your profile (or claim your existing profile) and make it great. 1000’s of founders and other investors will be looking for you here and grabbing your data to put on their spreadsheets. What you put in your profile will help increase how often people see you when searching and will help discourage people from hitting you with deals you already know you don’t want (e.g. in synthetic biology if you don’t invest in that, or in travel software if you don’t like that, or in Series B rounds when you do seed rounds, etc.)
3) Request connection to your referral network and investing partners (emails will be sent from the system to your referrers). When they connect their Gmail, more great CEO’s will have your rise to the tops of their searches because their relationship strength to you will be higher and occur more frequently.
Is there a FAQ on Signal? Yes, it’s here:
Why is NFX Guild doing this? We think this tool needs to exist. The current way our community connects and review deals is a bit medieval. We’ve been part of the Silicon Valley and Israeli ecosystems for many years, and for most of those years, we’ve all complained about the laborious fundraising process. Seems like software has a chance to help streamline parts of it. Also, as the earliest of investors, NFX Guild is highly collaborative with other investors, so we’re probably best positioned to offer this type of tool for free to the ecosystem.
What is “Signal Elite” on the nav bar? It’s an intro tool and CRM system that we built for the NFX Guild Founders. It’s not really open yet. We are going to allow a few 10’s of top founders use it if they want, but we need them to apply so we keep the quality high. And to get feedback on how to make it better. The Signal Elite tool does three things for Founders. a) It lets Founders get intros through the Signal system via their network of advisors. Note: Founders still can’t directly email investors through Signal, even with Signal Elite. b) Signal Elite lets investors look at Founder’s private and secure company summary page. It’s like DocSend, but customized to fundraising. c) Founders can have investors reply through the system, and then manage their fundraising process. But again, this is behind an application wall for now.
Enjoy V 1.0, please edit and add to the BIG LIST, and give us feedback.
— The NFX Guild Labs Team