The 19 Awesome Investors In Our $450,000 Seed Round And How We Met Them

Dec 20, 2011 12 min readBuffer News

Update: There were 2 amazing posts on GigaOM and TechCrunch featuring our story, check it out.

Today is an amazing day. We are happily announcing the closing of our seed funding round of Buffer. We set out with the vision to make sharing content on Social Media a lot smarter and more efficient.

And we were fortunate enough to have 19 awesome investors and advisors who shared this vision with us and came on board. Instead of the usual funding announcement, I wanted to to give you a complete insight into the experience with each investor.

Since the moment I joined Joel at Buffer in early 2011, he always fostered a culture of being open and transparent. At the same time, we want to pass on and share as much from our experience as possible, so others can learn from it. These stories seemed like amazing opportunities.

So without further ado, here are the 17 great people we have on board now and a short story about how it all happened:

Eric Kim – Founder of Twylah

One of the people I am most thankful for having on board is Eric Kim. We have known Eric for over 6 months and he has continually supported and encouraged us along the way. When we first met, we were fresh off the boat in San Francisco – and absolutely uninvestable. Yet Eric stuck with us, encouraged us and gave us some amazing ideas on how we can improve Buffer.

We met him every few weeks, to discuss new product ideas, collaboration potential and connected us with a huge number of people. If there is any kind of investor you would want for your startup, it must be Eric. On top of all things, it is just also a lot of fun to hang out with him for a coffee in our number 1 coffee shop in San Francisco.

Maneesh Arora – Founder of MightyText

Maneesh is one of the most connected and smartest people we have met in Silicon Valley. With his previous experience at Google and Zynga, Maneesh knows the social media space like no one else. With his own startup MightyText, Maneesh has already put many hours in to help us with brainstorms on growth that showed fantastic results.

We met Maneesh at the demo day of AngelPad and stayed in touch ever since via email. What was most amazing was that Maneesh worked with us on our pitch and also pulled in other interested investors at the same time. And the one thing you always want with an investor is a nice guy, you would simply enjoy hanging out with on a day to day basis. With Maneesh we couldn’t have found a better fit.

Jay Baer – The world’s #3 Social Media consultant and author

Another person that is just incredible to have in this round is Jay Baer. Here is the story: Jay was one of the first 50 paying Buffer users and has been with us since February 2011, only a few weeks after we launched. And he has been with us ever since. This has been the highest degree of trust we could expect from anyone.

When we started looking for funds , we jumped on a Skype call with Jay in September and worked out the details. Ever since Jay has been promoting and vouching for us, with virtually every opportunity there is. It is a person you just want to have in your team.

Keval Desai – VC at InterWest Partners

A great addition to our investor line-up is InterWest Partners, one of the most prestigious VC firms in Silicon Valley. With Keval Desai, who we have been working the most, we had the great opportunity to have a true entrepreneur turned VC helping us out with advice for Buffer.

The mentoring throughout the AngelPad program, and also great opportunity to be able to reach out to Keval and his team after our fundraising process gave us a huge confidence boost.

Dharmesh Shah – Co-Founder of HubSpot and blogger at OnStartups

A person that needs little introduction is Dharmesh Shah. Having him in this round, is something we would have never dreamt of. What Joel and I both were amazed by, was how Dharmesh lives and breathes startups.

He immediately understood the problem we were trying to solve with Buffer. And it only took a few email correspondences to get all details worked out. What is amazing is that Dharmesh always time for us to discuss our latest product developments.

Hiten Shah – CEO and Co-Founder of KISSmetrics

Hiten was the very first advisor to Buffer. And I couldn’t be any more thankful to have him on board. Fresh off the boat, we had no clue how to best speak to investors, meet the right people and so forth. Hiten, barely knowing us, took the time to meet us, encourage us, connect us with a lot of great people and more.

Through a strange turn of events, he helped us to land a place in the AngelPad incubator, which meant a lot of pressure being taken off our shoulders, especially financially. It all worked out after all. Hiten is one of the most approachable entrepreneurs out there and it’s an attitude I aspire to keep myself for as long as I can.

Thomas Korte – Founder of AngelPad

Thomas is someone, without a lot of things of the Buffer tale would have never happened. He was the very first investor in Buffer, when we got admitted to the AngelPad incubator as one of the last startups in late August 2011. Through the AngelPad program Thomas brought us a lot of credibility and created a natural filter to improve the speed of our fundraising.

With no other investor yet having committed to invest in us, you can imagine how he evidently took the highest risk. After several Skype calls back and forth you can only imagine what feeling it was to get a call from Thomas about the acceptance into AngelPad. Not only from the great mentorship, but also financially (we had a few hundred dollars left in our bank account), this could have not been timed any better.

Gokul Rajaram – Product Director of Ads at Facebook and Mentor at AngelPad

Gokul was one of the closest advisors and mentors throughout our AngelPad program. Gokul brought us, next to an uncountable number of introductions to partners and potential new investors, encouraging words at all times. That might sound a bit vague and concerns emotions, something not very often discussed in startups, but let me try to explain it. As you are building your startup and everything goes crazy in terms of meetings, good and bad news, it is very easy to be overwhelmed, frustrated or high on success.

Whenever we just spent a few minutes with Gokul, he would lift up our spirits and get us fired up with just a few sentences. That is an incredible skill only very few people possess and Gokul must be the unchallenged master. For that Gokul remains until today one of the very closest people we reach out to whenever the next challenge arises out of the blue.

Guy Kawasaki – Author of Enchantment and Co-Founder of Alltop

Here is another crazy story for you. Joel wrote a most complete guide on how he went from idea to paying customer within 7 weeks. Guy found and liked the story. He posted it to Google Plus. I got in touch and thanked him for posting it. At the same time, Daniel Brusilovsky had connected us with the founders of Evernote. Evernote invited us to attend their conference in San Francisco to chat with us about potentially collaborating.

At this conference, Guy Kawasaki was the keynote speaker. We caught him after it and showed him Buffer. He liked it a lot and we started chatting about future ideas and what his thoughts are. After this, we kept in touch and he linked us up with more people, gave us more ideas and is now a full advisor to Buffer. Crazy eh?

Peter Bordes – Founder of MediaTrust

When we jumped onto a call with Peter, I remember that I immediately realised that he was one of the most passionate people I had ever met. He had come across Buffer a few times before and about 10 minutes in, we had already discussed some awesome new feature expansions.

With Peter, who we were introduced by Eric Kim, what stood out the most was that he mentioned on how many places he had seen Buffer before already. It really made me realise, that it is people like him, who understand the Social Media space so well, that we want to have on board.

Harvey Brofman – Serial Entrepreneur in Healthcare and HC IT

How we met Harvey is an awesome story. Here at Buffer, we are running a weekly Twitter event called #ToolsChat. It is an hourly talk solely happening on Twitter, where we invite anyone to join us to discuss the latest Social Media apps and developments out there.

Harvey had long been chatting away with us during that talk and at the time, when we started to raise funds, he reached out to us. Without doubt, it was clear that having someone who understands the Twitter universe so well on board would be extremely beneficial.

Andy McLoughlin – Co-Founder of Huddle

It was a sunny day in October when we sat down in a Starbucks in SOMA, San Francisco with Andy to show him what Buffer was all about. About half an hour into the talk, we had already gotten to discuss some fantastic details about Buffer that Andy had great experience with.

Andy helped us improve our pricing, and shape our vision for more enterprise focused products around Buffer. As a fellow European, we could connect on many length, discuss visa issues and more openly with him. What is most awesome about having Andy on board is that he has supported us on Twitter and in the comments continually as if he were a full time Co-founder of Buffer.

Graham Jenkin – Designer of AngelList

When it comes to user experience and interface design there is probably no one better we could be able to get on board than Graham. We first reached out to him via AngelList (#doh), an amazing platform to link up startups and investors and set up some time to chat.

What was most interesting to discuss best work practices of linking design and development internally in a startup, a lot of which we have adopted today. It’s fantastic to have someone with such a sharp sense of product and UX instinct on board to help us shape Buffer make smoother and easier to use. Oh and Graham is probably also one of the most active Buffer users himself.

Shan Mehta – Angel investor and entrepreneur

Shan is one of the most connected people in the Angel investor scene in the US I have met. We could reach out to him amidst our buzz on AngelList and quickly hop on a Skype call. What I remember as most interesting was how Shan expanded our vision of Buffer within 30 minutes.

Using the idea of optimizing and timing certain events on the web, way beyond Social Media, never entered our minds before. It was clear that getting Shan onto the team will have a huge impact for Buffer and our long term vision.

Gady Nemirovsky and Robert Fanini – Founders of Inspiration VC

We got connected to Gady and Robert through Philip Cortez, (fellow Blackbox VC’er), who actually built a networking service called Meeteor that I recommend you check out if you’re looking to raise a round. Networking on Steroids…ok, I am digressing, that’s a whole other story. Gady and Robert are 2 of the smartest VC’s amongst the many we have spoken to.

What was great was the fact that they had absolutely no intention to waste our time.They took 2 meetings with us within one week, before they made a decision we were both happy with. This is something which normally takes a lot longer we found. It’s great to have them on board, especially as they let us do our thing and still offer help on a higher business development level.

Adii Pienaar – Founder of WooThemes

Adii was one of the people who we connected with in such a natural way that we immediately knew we wanted to get to know him more. He first signed up for Buffer way back in early March, and he upgraded to our Pro plan the day after he signed up! Then, after he commented on a couple of Joel’s blog posts, Joel reached out to him.

We chatted on Skype and immediately knew that Adii’s experience of the blogging space as well as marketing which he has done so well with WooThemes would be very useful for us to learn from. Adii is one of our most useful advisors and is one of those people who seems to be able to juggle everything, having just had a kid he’s still quick with emails and blogging consistently!

Jim LeTourneau – Public speaker, Geologist & Corporate Evangelist

We were connected to Jim once again through Eric Kim and, in between one of his speaking gigs in San Francisco, we found a few minutes to sit down with Jim. Whilst we explained our vision, it was awesome to see none of the tools we were looking to collaborate with needed explanation, as Jim was already using all of them.

Combining Social Media with his background in the oil and mining industry was particularly interesting for us as Jim could bring a completely different perspective to the table.

Gordon Paddison – CEO of StradellaRoad

Getting connected with Gordon was an awesome story as it was mainly thanks to AngelList that helped us to get in touch. When we hit the startup trending list, a list that gets emailed to all investors every Sunday evening, due to some buzz after our AngelPad demo day, we were able to get introduced to a lot of great people.

One of the great people that reached out to us was Gordon. We could hop on a quick Skype call and work out the details quickly and super efficiently with him.

Jay Gould – Founder of Foundville

Our meeting with Jay was a great example of serendipity. We first met, when Jay did a video interview with me for Foundville. We chatted a lot about being successful through Social Media and ended up producing a second interview purely about tips to succeed on Twitter.

Since Jay was just getting started with Foundville, I tried to refer as many founders and awesome people to him for more interviews. When we briefly talked about our investement situation with Buffer it only took us a few minutes to work things out.

Alberto Benbunan – Co-Founder of Mobile Dreams Factory

Meeting Alberto again happened thanks to AngelList. We were in the midst of our trending list buzz, and Alberto, a long and loyal Buffer user reached out to us. This is an interesting story as Alberto is from Spain and not Silicon Valley as most people in this list.

When he taught a class at Berkeley in late October, we grabbed him for another meeting to work out all the details. Especially, as Spanish users are the 2nd largest demographic after English speaking, it was amazing to bring Alberto on board.

Why did we take investment?

A lot of people asked us, “why the hell would you take investment?”. Given that we already have $20,000 in monthly revenue and some money left over from AngelPad. The reason is quite obvious and simple: speed. Without the investment, we weren’t able to hire people as fast as we did and focus fully on the product without worrying about money all the time.

At the same time, the people in this list were those that we felt could really help us with the distribution of Buffer. As we are working on the getting the Buffer button on blogs it has already shown how valuable it is to be in touch with these folks.

This is our funding story and we are super excited to have all these folks on board. I firmly believe 2012 will be the year, where a lot of great solutions to deal with information overload from Social Media will happen.

With Buffer, I hope we can be right at the center of this. We want to help you stand out from the noise, share at better times and have more impact with your Social Media presence.

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