As a venture capital professional, I have had the opportunity to meet with countless entrepreneurs over the years. I always look forward to the first meeting, as it gives me the chance to connect with smart, passionate people who have taken the bold step of starting their own companies. While I have passed on many deals, I have also been happy to make introductions to colleagues at other venture funds and offer a few tips to entrepreneurs before their next meetings.
If you’re an entrepreneur preparing for a meeting with a VC fund, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Do your research: Make sure you thoroughly research the VC and study its investment focus. This will help you tailor your pitch and show that you are familiar with the fund’s portfolio and interests. If the VC does not invest in cyber and you have an amazing cyber startup, you are wasting your time.
Know your numbers: How much money you make? How much you burn? How much money you need? How it is going to be spent? How big is your market? How big is the opportunity? Share numbers as well as the metrics that demonstrate the potential of your business. If you shared a business plan prior to the meeting, be prepared to answer questions about the numbers and make sure you are communicating them clearly and coherently.
Prepare a clear and concise pitch. You need to make a strong impression as guys that you are going to meet usually receive many pitches. Your pitch should clearly highlights the key points of your startup: what problem you solve, why it is an amazing investment opportunity, talk about your team and how you guys are working together. VCs invests in people first.
Listen. Be open to feedback and questions – If the VC focus on a specific point or subject during the meeting, address it. You may not see things as they see, so try to listen to them and hear their questions. Ask for their feedback – we are happy to provide it. Don’t say things like “I don’t have competitors.” If there is a need, a problem, and a market, you have competition – you just may not know about them.
Follow up after the meeting. Ask for feedback – it is valuable even if it is a pass for them. If they had follow up questions try to answer them and keep the dialog open to provide additional information if they requested. It demonstrates your seriousness and willingness to work with the VC. Their feedback can help you to adjust your pitch, business plan, or overall strategy, which can help you be better prepared for future meetings.They may not invest now but they may invest later. Try to stay on their radar and potentially build a relationship for future rounds of funding.
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