“I never invest in someone who says they’re going to do something; I invest in people who say they’re already doing something and just want funding.” John Doerr
Venture Capital. There are few words which ring bells in my ear and this happens to be one of them. It represents a stage in your entrepreneurial career which makes up for the roller coaster ride that you may have been through. To be substantially venture funded is a stamp of approval from seasoned veterans of this field that you have what it takes. All that is between you and immortality such as the likes of Google and Amazon is a little money. Getting here for most is a long and difficult process. This source of funding in todays day and age comes after you have used one of the previous sources outlined earlier. Diligence and persistence are two core personality traits which are vital.
Once your startup is at a stage where you believe venture funding is required to take your concept global, several steps must be taken. Some of the critical ones are outlined;
- Find someone who can refer you to a venture capitalist. Referrals comprise of the majority of ventures which are backed.
- Your business plan has to be professionally done with all the major topics covered. Sequoia Capital has outlined this very nicely on their website and every business plan should cover all the sections discussed.
- Have a prototype or proof of concept ready before the presentation. This is absolutely essential when pitching to VC’s today as the cost of developing them has been reduced considerably. It is an added advantage if your business concept is already running and you require the VC firm to take you to the next level.
- When preparing your pitch presentation please follow the 10/20/30 rule which Guy Kawasaki aggressively promotes. Having the presentation structured in this way will give you the ability to focus as well as to allow for discussion time. During the discussion you can use extensive research to answer questions.
Be as prepared as you can be for this meeting. I have been on both ends of the firing line both as a judge and a presenter and the first impressions in this encounter make all the difference. Know your presentation like the back of your hand. Be confident about your product or service, most importantly, belief in what you are pitching must be clearly apparent.
If you are stuck on step number one where you do not know anyone who can refer you to a VC firm there are a few things you can do.
- Firstly you have to increase your level of exposure through networking (this is a topic which I will talk about in the coming weeks). Networking is an essential skill that every successful entrepreneur must have or develop.
- Secondly join entrepreneurship clubs and committees. These provide you a platform to meet with and interact with successful entrepreneurs which may become possible links for you to get introduced.
- Use Linkedin or other professional networks to find individuals in your network who will be able to provide you with connections to the right VC firm.
- Scout the web for prominent VC’s who regularly blog such as Kawasaki’s blog to find out more about them.
In essence you have to become a lot more proactive if you want to increase both your network and exposure level. You have to put yourself along with your product/service out there and get valuable feedback. Entrepreneurship is all about getting out there and giving it all you have because you believe in your company that much. Get inspired to be more today!