Avoid These Mistakes When Pitching to Venture Capitalists
You've got a great idea, and now you just need the money to make it happen. There are a number of different sources you can use to fund your business, and if you are like most entrepreneurs, you'll probably use some combination of those sources. Many startup founders dream of getting funding from venture capital, but how can you increase your chances of impressing these investors? You can start by avoiding the common errors below.
Failing to Do Your Research
You've been spending all your time researching for your business, so you may feel a little frustrated to learn that you need to research venture capitalists as well. However, you need to walk into these meetings knowing what you are doing. You should understand the basics about how venture capitalists make decisions, such as which firms specialize in the industry you are in and where various firms are in their life cycle. Keep in mind as well that firms specialize in investing at different times. If you're looking for money to get started, make sure that you're pitching to a company that does seed funding instead of investing at later stages.
Making Unsolicited Proposals
The best way to connect is through networking, not through sending your unsolicited business plan via email. Attending conferences and other events that attract venture capitalists is a good way to meet people if you don't know anyone. In the meantime, you might want to look at alternative funding sources, such as grants and loans. Many people also use some of their own money and assets. If you have a permanent life insurance policy, you might be able to sell it through a life settlement and use this money. You can review a guide of the top life settlement companies to help you decide which one is right for you.
Failing to Plan
Don't let stories about people getting funding after scribbling a brilliant, world-changing idea down on a scrap of paper turn your head. Although there are creative funding options for new businesses, these stories are probably wildly exaggerated if they're true at all, and thus are not likely to succeed. Coming to an agreement is usually a matter of months, not weeks and certainly not days or hours. You'll sit through plenty of meetings and provide a lot of information about the details of your company before someone decides to write you a check. As part of this planning, make sure that you identify some of the potential risks that you are facing. VCs know that these can be high-risk investments and they need to know that you understand this as well.
Prepare for Due Diligence
You will need to be able to substantiate any of your claims about your financial situation, how your business is structured and your intellectual property. It can be easy to get so carried away with your idea and thoughts about your startup that you pay less attention than you should to the details, but you'll need to be prepared for this stage. VCs will expect you to be well-organized and able to answer any questions that they ask and provide any documentation that they require.