Venture capital firms are constantly inundated with a steady stream of emails asking for funding. This approach is quick and easy, but rarely effective.
Spending time researching and building your own unique approach to gaining funding is the best way to actually secure the money your business needs. Going after funds without any real effort makes you look just like everyone else, no matter how amazing the business and idea really are.
Approaching a venture capital firm is a bit uncomfortable for most entrepreneurs to learn; however, it’s well worth the time and effort and is necessary to bring your business to the next level.
Keep in mind that VCs are in business because of companies like yours, so the relationship is not one-sided like it might feel. You are just as important to them as they are to you!
Here’s a breakdown of some of the best ways to approach Venture Capitalists:
1. Do your research first!
This goes back to grade school. If you want to do something well, you should first learn as much as you can about it. You’re on the right track by reading this article, but there is so much more you’ll want to know before approaching your first VCs.
Here are a few links that will aid your research:
Now that you have your approach techniques and ideas, you’ll want to learn as much about each VC’s portfolio as you possibly can before taking any more steps.
Check their website at the start to see if your business fits their portfolio at all. It’s not worth chasing down investors that wouldn’t have any interest in what you’re offering.
View the partners or company’s LinkedIn pages, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, etc. and read up on any news releases through a Google search for their names. Absorb this information and document any commonalities that will give you an edge. You don’t want to creep them out by saying all that you know; this is just to gain a better understanding of the people you are pitching.
While you are browsing LinkedIn and Facebook, you’ll get a good feel for who the VCs are connected with and who they trust. This is where a warm introduction can be developed.
When a trusted friend refers a founding team, there is a better chance of developing a relationship. Trust is one of the most important parts of business. When it comes to money, trust is everything. The VC will need to trust you since you are the spokesperson for your business. Secure a warm introduction and you are miles ahead of anyone else.
You could do this by meeting with someone in their network to discuss your business, or you may already have a great connection who would be willing to recommend you.
3. Email is NOT the way to go, even though it’s easier.
Do you get pitches in your inbox daily from businesses trying to sell you services and solutions to grow your company? Chances are, you see these emails all the time. And you know they simply aren’t effective.
If someone really wants to work with you and your business, they’d probably do a bit more than send out a quick email.
You can take this approach if you can’t find any other option, but don’t expect a good response rate.
Make yourself stand out. Gain that introduction through a mutual friend or other investors in your company. Send an investor update once a month with no ask or send a sample of your product.
These are all different ideas that make you memorable. Whatever you decide to do, make your pitch creative, make it speak to the VC, and make it an accurate reflection of your business and principles.
4. Be Professional
This is common sense, yet somehow, many pitches are unprofessional. Going in with a huge ego is not going to convince a VC that you’re great. The business is what they care about, and someone who is hotheaded is generally a poor investment.
At the same time, try to avoid being nervous and awkward. These can make you seem unsure about your business. You are there to sell the firm on your model and ideas, and even if you really believe it’s going to work, stumbling over your words will make it seem like you don’t.
Treat this like you would a meeting with your own staff and you’ll come across in a great way. You should come across as confident, strong, and determined, but also open to suggestions and feedback.
5. Pitch something unique to each investor, not a generic pitch.
Speak to the investor specifically. This is where all the research comes into play. Let’s say you see several articles and videos in which the investor mentions that they like to be heavily involved with each company in which they invest. Assuming this is a positive fit for you, be sure to cater to this point throughout the pitch. Let the investor know that you are the ideal candidate for the way they like to work.
VCs will drop clues as you meet with them about the things that matter most. Pay attention to these and be sure to address every point of concern they mention in a strong and honest way.
Growing your business through venture capital may seem daunting at first. However, securing funding at this key point is often necessary to fully realize your dream and make your business a true success.