In general, Middle East Family Offices tend to be elusive and highly selective, both in terms of their investments and/or charitable giving/grant making. A warm introduction is the best and most effective way to approach a Middle East Family Office. Just like other types of investors, cold emails or cold outreach are rarely effective with SFOs and MFOs in this region. As a rule, they do not want to be hounded with unsolicited funding or investment proposals. Once introduced, Whatsapp does just the job these days, allowing you to keep an open line of communication.
LinkedIn can be among your most useful assets for finding the right people who might be willing to give you a warm introduction to a targeted Middle East Family Offices. Start by searching for Family Offices and in specific Middle East countries with whom you would like to connect. If there are any first or second degree mutual connections, you can then start a dialogue and then hopefully, ask for a warm introduction to your targeted Family Office.
Here are a couple of other tips:
- Be thorough in your search — look for common connections such as college alumni, volunteer interests and similar.
- Be a part of the LinkedIn or online communities where Families tend to congregate.
- In being part of these groups, don’t be pushy, but instead, start or engage in intelligent, relevant conversations and finally add value to their interests, as many are still learning this technology world.
Be specific in your approach:
- Only seek out Family Offices that are aligned to your company, organization or goals.
- Find out everything you can about the Family Offices you want to target and the people behind them. Learn about their industries or sectors of interest; the stage at which they like to invest; the previous startups in which they have invested; their preferred exit strategy; the size and type of investments they like to make; and their typical level of involvement in the startups in which they invest.
- The same is true if you are seeking a grant from an Family Office.
- If your proposed request is not an ideal match for any of your targeted Family Offices, then you need to just move on until you find the right one
- In an online community or even a messaging thread, don’t ask for money, ask for advice. Your goal should be to build a report and get a meeting. Getting to the ask takes time.
- Never blindly approach a Family Office and don’t use a ‘shotgun’ approach, sending out mass emails or LinkedIn messages. I receive unsolicited pitches every single day. Not once has any of those unsolicited pitches been successful in securing an investment (or even serious conversation) from me.
In the pre-pandemic world, gold clubs, business clubs and in-person networking events were also a way to make connections with persons affiliated with Family Offices. Hopefully, those opportunities will again be accessible within this next year. But even in these real-world situations, your approach should be strategic, with the goal of getting a meeting, not immediately asking for money.
Are Family Offices an Untapped Resource For Startup Funding? Turns out the answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. Making the determination as to whether a Family Office is the right investment vehicle for your startup requires doing lots of homework.