How Do You Get the Attention of a Venture Capitalist?
If you are starting a business, you may need to get funding for that business, and one way to do that is by connecting with venture capitalists. Not every business is right for this kind of funding, but if yours is, you might wonder how you can get the attention of these deep pocket investors and convince them to put money into your project. The tips below can help.
Getting funding from venture capitalists is incredibly competitive, so you need to be very well prepared. This means having your own personal finances in order, having an idea of how much money you want to ask for and having a well-organized and compelling presentation for investors about your business. For your own personal finances, work on paying down any debt and building up savings. It might be better to take out a personal loan to pay off some types of debt if the interest rate on the existing debt is high. A personal loan may have a more favorable repayment plan. As for your presentation, keep in mind that you will be trying to persuade people who are inundated with communications from business owners in the same position as you. You need more than just a compelling idea; you need something that will genuinely stand out amid of sea of compelling ideas and that offers a good chance of a substantial profit to investors.
One of the best ways to give yourself at least a small advantage over those who are coming to venture capitalists' cold is to find someone who can give you an introduction. The sad truth is that if you simply submit your business plan via email, you will probably get lost in the sea of everyone else's plans. Cold calling is not really an improvement as a strategy. Plus if you focus your startup philosophy on what you do well, you will want to be able to speak to that with potential investors, in person.
Knowing someone who has already been funded by the person or firm that you have your eye on who can make the introduction is ideal, but you don't have to be someone who regularly rubs shoulders with this particular demographic in order to do so. Getting to know a corporate finance attorney or an engineering professor who can make introductions for you is another option. Connecting online, via social media, and getting to know people who work in this space--asking questions first and asking for advice--is another way to get your foot in the door. Some VCs also have open office hours when entrepreneurs have the opportunity to walk in and talk with them.
Do Your Research
All VC firms are not the same, and you need to know who you are networking with and pitching to. Find out what kind of startups they typically fund and who their associates and partners are. Your efforts to make professional connections need to be targeted, and you need to think first in terms of building relationships and not getting a check even when that is your ultimate goal. Make sure as well that your business is in the right place to start seeking funding. Be sure that you can tell them what you plan to do with the money they invest.