Finding the right venture capital investors for your business can be a long hard road at the best of times. Just because you think your business has wheels doesn’t mean this seasoned group of hardcore investors will. They’ve seen it all and likely done exactly what you’re doing a time or two during their career.
How to attract Venture Capital investors
Here’s 8 great tips to ensure you’re not grasping at straws and wasting time during your search for the right VCs for your company:
1. Make sure you’re set on the right course
If you’re asking “is venture capital right for my business needs” as you start sending out emails and asking contacts for the names of viable VCs, you’re likely not the right candidate for venture capital funding at this point. Maybe you’re looking for an angel or even a bank loan instead?
2. Avoid bulk applications
While it’s much better to have an ‘in’ with a specific contact that can connect you with VCs, sometimes emails are the next best option. Or are they? If you’re at a point where the best you can muster is to send email or lettermail to venture capitalists, keep in mind that they probably receive more mail in a day than you do in a year. Customize each pitch carefully, like your life depends on it, then read this and this.
3. Research comes first
In order to find and attract the right Venture Capital investors, you first need to do some detailed research to identify the right candidates. Company websites should be the obvious start. Make a list of those who:
- Are able to invest the amount you need.
- Fund businesses in your industry.
- Fund businesses in your current development stage (ie., most won’t look at businesses that have been on the market less than a year).
- Fund businesses in your geographic locale (if applicable).
They’ll expect you to know whether you’re the right fit for their funding interests before you sidle up to the meeting table. Not having this information is a sure way to annoy your way out of the funds you need – and waste precious time! Start with these resources.
4. Don’t buy VC leads, lists, databases, products, etc.
None of these junky resources will get you anywhere; least of all in the door to the meeting room with a VC. These types of scams are out there to make money from desperate types who can’t see the forest for the trees, and who think there’s an easy shortcut to meeting these busy businessmen and women.
5. Seek introductions above all else
Don’t jump in head first and start trying to make a bunch of noise. Try to find people you know who might know them – or people who you know who know people who know them. If not, try to get to know people who know the VCs who’re a right fit for your business funding needs. Basically, if you know one of their partners and are given a proper introduction, you’ll have a far better chance of getting what you want.
6. Nail down an elevator pitch – and practice it constantly!
When that time does finally come and you have a brief chance to get a VCs’ attention, you don’t want to waste it because you’re unprepared. Elevator pitches are all about capturing interest in 60 seconds or fewer. When it comes to introducing your brand and making it sound viable, the best way to capture an investor’s attention is to identify yours with a known brand. For instance, Alibaba branded their site early by referring to itself as “The Amazon of China.” Learn more about crafting a worthy elevator pitch here.
7. Follow up right away
Whether you’ve hit them with an elevator pitch, or already had a full sit-down meeting already, you need to send some follow up materials their way, right away! It doesn’t matter if you’ve left them with a book’s worth of materials including your business plan or not, it’s time to turn up the juice and push your brand deep into their psyche.
Mail them a followup video over-viewing the business and your key selling points for being a worthwhile investment on CD or USB, put it in an appropriate-sized box marked “Urgent” and use an expedited service like UPS or FedEx to get it to them. Make the delivery “signature required” to add value to the contents and make it more likely it will land on the right desk.
8. Be prepared for the due-diligence process
The good old D.D.! There are too many startups in the due-diligence graveyard than can be counted. Upwards of two-thirds of all handshake deals end up not making it past the months-long vetting process that Venture Capital investors will put your business through. Read these tips for surviving the due diligence process and then sit back and be patient.
It might take awhile!