I want to be honest from the beginning: raising funds from family offices is not an easy task if done incorrectly. As investors, Middle East family offices are reliable partners which can invest huge amounts. On the other hand, they are in most cases really discrete and cautious when people get in touch with them. That makes the approach for fundraising especially difficult. Fortunately, I can give you some “best approaches” guidelines, how the approach works here in the GCC.
- Compile a list of families and family groups: First of all, you have to compile a list of relevant families that either play ball in your industry sector or are showing signs of diversification. Google industry verticals that resonate with your business in the GCC, eventually you will find a family group attached to that article or subsidiary business.
- Avoid mass mailings, the goal is to get Whatsapp numbers: It is tempting to use the compiled list of families for a huge mass mailing or vomiting long copy and paste essays on LinkedIn via Inmail. I strongly advise you to work on individual approaches instead of mass mailings. Use friends in common for introductions, if no result on first outreach.
- Compile background information: Before you approach a certain family here in the GCC, compile background information and try to find similarities to your own firm. Are VC or PE investments fitting their investment philosophy? Have they relevant exemplary investments? Do they own subsidary businesses whom you can service? The information will help you for the optimal approach. “Our business can save time and cost within XYZ specific portfolio company and we saw that you invested in XYZ — which is in the same industry vertical that we operate in— and we thought it might be interesting to talk” works always better than “Hi, we are XYZ investors and we are currently establishing a new fund and we seek $XX capital”.
- Work on personal introductions: Nearly all family offices exclusively work with personally introduced or known firms. That makes personal introductions especially valuable. Try to find connections, for instance through LinkedIn. That won’t work for every family office, but it’s worth a try.
- Best manners and protocol: When getting in touch with family offices here in the GCC for the first time, work on outstanding gaining a personal meeting with the goal to obtain their Whatsapp number as emails is not really a thing here in the GCC. Try think outside the box, send voice note to check in on the individual, notify them on your industry or exciting news that may arise.
- Host mini dinners or events: Also always a good way to get in touch with GCC family offices is to host mini events and invite relevant families and industry professionals. That takes a lot of effort, but a convinced family office will make it worth. For example, some venture capital funds host yearly exclusive events with their LPs, prospective investors and portfolio companies.
- Be courteous and polite: Family offices attach great importance to good manners, loyalty and extraordinary service.
Short and sweet!!