What Are Investor Updates?
Investor Updates are the reports a company periodically shares with its investors, and include business and financial metrics and qualitative progress updates.
It is mandatory for Public companies to report their numbers on a quarterly basis. It is optional for most Private companies, although some shareholders' agreements include a clause of "Right of Information", which requires the company to share certain details on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.
Why Sending Investor Updates is Important
Sharing monthly or quarterly reports to investors is a best practice that will keep business angels, VCs and PEs engaged with the company. The most important benefits of investor relations are:
- Alignment: investors like to know how their money is doing, as they are usually calculating the potential return on their investment. It is recommended keeping them in the loop, even if it's to share bad news. Investors should not be surprised to know your company is doing really well/bad, and sending investor updates is an easy way to be predictable. As Jason Lemkin puts it: "Getting a rough investor update, (ideally with a little context). Still 20x more confidence inspiring than no update at all"
- Easier fundraising: the transparency that investor updates bring will help in future financing rounds, as existing investors may proactively ask to invest more or participate as co-investors. If an existing shareholder knows how the company is doing, you will get their "yes" way faster, and they have may even already accounted for it.
- Engagement with potential investors: a best practice to keep potential investors in the loop is to send them the investor updates. If you are wary of sharing some financial metrics, you could always make two version of it, one for existing shareholders in the cap table, another one of external stakeholders. Sending them updates will also give you insights on which ones are the most engaged by tracking email opens, clicks and reading time with tools like Capboard.
- Legal requirement: in some countries and depending on the shareholders' agreement, it is a legal requirement to keep all your shareholders up to date about some topics, like financial performance, lawsuits, etc.
What to Include in a Report to Investors
Each investor report is unique, and companies use different formats shared throug different channels, but the content is usually the same. It is important that investors get a clear picture of the situation of the company and its short term plans, financial situation, opportunities and threats.
- KPIs: investors want to know how the business is performing, so the first topic is to report the 3-5 most important business metrics. For example, for a SaaS it would be MRR and NRR, for marketplaces GMV and take rate, or for an e-commerce CAC and total revenue. Those metrics are usually quite standard, but sometimes investors may ask for some additional ones that can be shared in an attached dashboard or spreadsheet.
- Financials: depending on the stage of the company, investors may require a monthly P&L and some financial metrics to understand how the company is performing. If your startup is not profitable yet, it is important to share with your investors your monthly burn (how much money does the company lose, if any) and the runway (months left to run out of cash).
- Positives: relevant progress made in any front, like product features, key hires, commercial deals, etc.
- Negatives: bad things that occurred, what caused and how it is being fixed.
- Support requests: investors tend to have a good contact network, so investor updates are a great opportunity to ask for introductions, help with a deal, etc. Keeping investors engaged with the company is key for its success.
Investor Update Templates
Kima Ventures Investor Update Template
Hey all - Hope all is well! Here is a quick recap of [month].
- MRR: $X (+Y%)
- ARR: $X
- Customers: X (+Y%)
- Net churn: Y% or -Y% (when upsell > churn)
- Visit to signup: X% (+Y%)
- Signup to paying: X% (+Y%)
- NPS: X (-Y%)
Need You For
- Recruiting head of …: Click to share (FB/LK/TW). Click to refer someone (typeform link)
- Issue with … If you have a good “type of person” in your network, we need her/him for “tralala”. Please refer him/her to us: click to find out now on your Linkedin (link to linkedin advanced search result). Make a screenshot with the names or refer them to us :)
- Thanks… for… You rock!
Bad & Ugly News
- Our fault:
- Someone’s fault:
- Market shitstorm
Good & Great News
- Great new hire:
- Great new process:
- Great new win:
- PR, Culture, Fun Facts
Y Combinator Investor Update Template
It’s been an awesome, but intense, [summer/fall/winter/spring]. Many things are tracking well, but there are some challenges we could use your help with (more below).
As always, I've included charts for our revenue growth, cash on hand, and burn rate.
How You Can Help
- Revenue with Change %: X$, Y% MoM
- Cash on Hand: X$
- Burn Rate: X$
- We have some problems with [Product Initiative]. We are lacking experience in [X]. Can you recommend a [Mentor/Partner/etc.] to come in and help (this can be a paid coaching position)?
- I have been approached by a VC who wants to potentially pre-empt a [Series X]. How do I best deal with this?
- We have lost 2 important [customers/potential customers] due to [X]. Can any of you spare some time to talk through our positioning statements and sales process?
- I am worried that [key competitor X] has just closed a [$X Round] (see here for more info), how shall we best deal with this (if at all)?
- A quick qualitative recap of how your month went. Be as quick and to the point as possible here. The point is to have your investors read the entire update and offer help.
How to Send an Investor Update
Email was the main channel to share Investor Updates, but new tools like Capboard have emerged in the market to give more insights to founders while keeping investors engaged.
The main benefits of "Investor Relations" by Capboard are:
- Create and manage unlimited lists of investors: group investors by type (Business Angels, VC...), by relationship (existing or potential investors), by the stage of the discussions (first contact, due diligence...). Send different updates by list and track their performance.
- Start with a template: use one of the many commonly use templates to follow the same structure as the best companies. Select your favourite template, edit and send!
- Engagement insights: learn what investors are the most engaged, who doesn't read your updates... and act on it. Ideal when fundraising and the CEO is planning the fundraising.
- Data room for attachments: documents attached and shared on Investor Updates are uploaded to the startup's virtual data room, tracking who opens it. The data room gives the company full control on privacy, security and makes sure only certain accounts can access the files.
Types of Investor Update Channels
There are different channels and formats an investor report can be shared through. Below we highlight the main pros and cons of each format, and beware the best solution is probably a combination of them.
The most commonly used channel. Some companies decide to share the investor update in the email body as text.
- Easy to read, especially if you use bold, emojis and bullet points.
- The content will be searchable on their email provider
- Track engagement, clicks, reading time
- Add several links to external supports, like spreadsheets or videos.
- Not the most visible format
- It can be forwarded to third parties
Presentation / deck
Some companies send an email with a ppt attached or linked.
- More visual and captivating
- If shared with a link, it allows to track engagement: % of slides seen, etc.
- If shared with a link, some tools let you restrict you can see the report.
- It takes more time than an email/Notion
- Not the best format for financial reporting
- If attached, it can be shared with third parties
With the growing popularity of Notion, some startups write their updates on a Notion page and share it by email with their investors.
- More visual than an email
- Track engagement and restrict who can see it
- Investors must have an account
- You still need to share it by email
How to Set Up Your First Investors Update?
Here is where you can begin: Your investor relations tool.