What do all good business ideas have in common?
That’s easy. They all need money, from thousands of dollars to even millions, to get off the ground.
Maybe you can fund your idea by yourself. Perhaps you can ask family and friends to invest in the beginning. You might even be able to find some angel investors who believe in you and your idea. Or you can find a venture capitalist firm to fund you.
Pitching to venture capitalists isn’t easy and it takes thick skin. But it can be very fruitful if you’re strategic, prepared and persistent.
You can’t pitch a venture capitalist without first landing a meeting. Veteran entrepreneur and Defendry CEO Pat Sullivan recently shared some of the strategies he’s used to get in front of prominent VCs.
Sullivan says that founders should treat fundraising like a full sprint, scheduling meetings one after another. To use a cliche, don’t put your eggs all in one basket.
“The mistake a lot of entrepreneurs make is to talk to one VC at a time,” Sullivan says on a recent episode of AZ Tech Podcast. “No, you have to look at it as a roadshow.”
Other founders, like Axosoft founder Hamid Shojaee and Campus Logic co-founder Gregg Scoresby, agree that fundraising is a full-time job.
While it may take months to raise the money you need, Sullivan suggests designating a specific block of time to get as many meetings as possible.
For example, a founder could set aside three weeks to completely focus on getting meetings with VCs. Hopefully you get four, five or six presentations a day.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. How do you land one meeting, let alone six?
Below are some tips to help you get that meeting … and it’s not as scary as you might think.
- Use the resources and connections you already have. Find someone that can give you a personal introduction to one of the venture capital firm’s partners.
- Network strategically. Find portfolio companies and get to know the executives there. Then, ask for an introduction.
- Find VCs who would be a good fit for you and your business. Even before you start asking for introductions, find out if you’re a good fit for what the firm does. Not all venture capital firms are the same.
- Do your research and utilize social media. Read venture capitalists’ blogs or Twitter feeds. Get to know them and follow them. Capture their attention with your own tweets.
- Be a human. Introduce yourself in a warm, relatable way. Show your passion and determination. This introduction is a potential investor’s first impression of you, so make it a good one.
Eventually, you will get meetings lined up. That’s when Sullivan’s strategy comes in.
When you’re wrapping up a presentation, Sullivan drops hints that he has other meetings to get to.
“They look at you and go, ‘well, who with?’ I go, ‘well, you know, the usual suspects … let them know that you’re talking to a lot of people at one time.” he says. In other words, build their FOMO.
“I’ll even say, ‘Listen, I’m gonna get this deal funded. I’d like it to be you.’ And then I walk out.”
Drop the mic.