There is no shortcut. There is also no magic formula. The key is in the preparation and in knowing your market, product/service, and in clearly communicating the essence.
Now we know what to consider when contemplating a start-up, when hiring, and when writing a plan. And you’ve had all this and more in mind when structuring your startup plan. Now is the time to raise money to fuel your entrepreneurial aspirations. You are now ready to approach the Venture Capitalist.
The first thing to keep in mind when approaching a VC is to be mindful of time. What that means is that you have to make a good impression in the first few minutes. Enter the legendary and apocryphal “elevator speech”. What this means is that by the time it takes the venture capitalist in the elevator to get to his office (what floor would that be on?), you must have sold him your concept! Essentially, in about 2 minutes or less, you are expected to pinpoint the reason for your startup’s existence.
This can only happen if you have a clear understanding of the market and the opportunities. If you can’t explain what your company is all about in a few short, crisp sentences, you’ve lost the VC’s attention. This also means that you must be a great communicator.
But how do you get to a VC? As always, there are good and bad ways. A bad way is an approach that shows you are not prepared or have not properly researched the VC.
For example, is your business in the VC area of expertise? Does the VC invest in the stage your company is in? Does the VC have any investment in a competing area? Does the VC typically invest the amount of money they are looking for? etcetera etcetera
As you’ve probably already guessed, sending a well-researched business plan to a reference is a good way to go. A VC gets so many plans that to get noticed, a referral is probably the best way. A reference also implies that some type of quality control has been carried out. So how do you get a referral? One way is to use the good offices of the Advisory Council or some other intermediary.
In cases where only cold contact needs to be made, the Executive Summary must be submitted first. This is a 2-3 page document that captures profiles of key team members, market need/opportunity, unique offering, business model, revenue projections, and some information on how much money is being sought and with what. purpose.
This should be a well-written, professional, and crisp document. Make sure there are no misspellings! If this is of interest to you, the VC will probably call you in for a meeting. Come well prepared for the discussion. As the old saying goes, “you won’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”