I was on stage this weekend at the Slovak Startup Awards and was asked a question I've heard many times. A founder asked whether they should use an advisor to help raise their first round of external money and if so, whom? My fellow panel member answered positively, recommending advisors and specifically if trying to raise money internationally. Then I chimed in and said "Hell No!"
You should NEVER use an external advisor to raise money. The reason is that most of them suck! Sure, there are exceptions to the rule and I do know of a few guys who actually do have the connections and can help you navigate VC waters. Yet, there are so few that the chance of you finding someone worth using is less than your chances of actually raising a round on your own. Even worse, most guys who are really good at it do it for a while and then move on. Hence not only are they hard to find, they disappear quickly.
Why do I think most advisors suck? Well, they are no better than you. Let's be honest with ourselves....if an advisor is so good and well networked, why isn't he a VC or an entrepreneur or whatever else is far sexier than being an advisor. It's not a field you can get really passionate about. If you can work wonders getting money raised for everyone, a VC will get you on board as a partner. The reality behind most advisors is that they've already lost their jobs at the top tier or never managed to break into the jobs they wanted or raised that fund they longed for. Advisory is the side gig. Would you really put your fundraising fate in someone who's treading water?
Another problem with advisors is that they don't build the relationship necessary when raising money. You may find dumb money with them but you won't build that relationship that is necessary to find the VC that will get into bed with you. It's a long-term play when raising money and putting the advisor in as middleman is doomed from the start, even if you do raise some cash.
Further, most advisors are annoying. As a VC you get hounded by them all the time. Most VC's who are worth it won't spend any time listening to them nor take their calls. This is just a fact. VC's want to find you to take you to bed and not speak first to your pimp (see this post). Likewise, you want that sugar daddy who'll also love you and not just see you as an accessory or decoration.
And finally, it just doesn't make sense to take the money off the table. By paying an advisor a percentage of whatever you raise, you're taking money (from the VC) off the table. You see, you aren't really paying that fee, the VC is. Why in the world would I want my money as a VC going to an advisor who after the round does nothing with this money to increase value of my investment. It's just dumb all around.
Fundraising is hell but you have to do it. If you already have a VC or angel on board, they should be helping you. (Remember, you didn't raise dumb money, right?) Ultimately though it's you who has to go out and sell yourself, your co-founders and your idea. Put in the effort and don't be distracted by potential shortcuts.