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Tips for Getting the most out of a VC Investor Meeting

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by Startacus Admin

VC Investor meeting

When building a tech startup that's starting to scale, it’s a good bet that you will spend a lot of time trying to raise funding. Arguably, the most important part of this will be the first few (or many) meetings with different VCs. Whether you are looking for funding to start or to expand, the first time you meet with a VC (Venture Capital) will be vital in showing them that you and your business are worth investing in.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of a VC meeting (spoiler alert: it often boils down to knowledge and personability).

Network

It’s a fairly obvious fact that people have more time for someone who is introduced by someone else they know and trust than for someone who just turns up at their doorstep with a flipchart and a smile. Of course, you can’t just ambush someone the VC happens to know - this person has to know and trust you in turn, and that is where networking comes in. You should be networking anyway, but introductions are one of the areas that you can reap the rewards. Ideally you’ll want multiple contacts for introduction - and perhaps to talk you up a bit in the process - and for support.

meeting a VC Investor

Research

It’s the word so many of us hate to see, but you have to do your research before going into a VC meeting. They will expect you to know how the process works, and they aren’t there to explain it to you if you don’t. We will have more about how the process works and what to expect in another article. Try to anticipate the questions you will be asked - ask yourself the toughest you can think of, have others ask you, and make sure you have good answers. VCs invest in a fraction of the businesses that come their way, and without doing your research, you don’t stand a chance.

This research isn’t just about the process in general, however. You should know about the VC you are meeting with. Who they are, what they do, their investment history, their relevance to your business, etc., are all important things to know. Partly so that you don’t pitch your IoT startup to a VC who only likes MedTech businesses, and partly as another way to show the VC that you know what you are doing and that you like to put in the work. Plus, you can subtly bring up anything of relevance that can help to make a personal connection.

meeting a VC Investor

Pitch deck

VCs aren’t generally fond of surprises, and while it may feel like a good thing to wait until your meeting with the VC to dramatically unveil your pitch deck, you might actually get more out of sending them your pitch deck beforehand, if they are open to it. This might feel like giving away a movie’s big twist in the trailer, but your first meeting with a VC is in large part to do with them getting to know you personally and beginning to build a relationship with them.

Providing the pitch deck ahead of time does give them the chance to say no without you having the opportunity to win them over in person, but a good pitch deck should be strong enough that it doesn’t need your powers of persuasion (these dos and don’ts of a pitch deck may help) to make it work. If they have had the chance to familiarise themselves with the business via your pitch deck, it leaves more room in your first meeting to talk details and really reel them in.

Pitching

A good pitch doesn’t of course guarantee investment, but a bad pitch almost guarantees you being shown the door. As important as the content of the pitch is, the VC will also be using it to get a sense of you as a person. They will be looking to gauge things like your knowledge, confidence, passion, and your personality in general. The best pitch given by someone who doesn’t exude the qualities the VC is looking for in a successful startup founder won’t get you any further than a bad pitch. Of the things they will be looking for, the only ones you can really do anything about are the knowledge and confidence. Know your subject inside out, know about everything that can affect your business. Confidence isn’t easy to work on, but pitching to friends, family, colleagues, helpful people in your network, at pitch events, etc., will all naturally help you to become more comfortable and confident in pitching.

Knowing your pitch inside out will also help with confidence, but there is another reason this is important. While the VC might be happy to sit back and let you run through the whole pitch, they might jump in with questions all the way through. These questions will make you jump about the pitch in an order you didn’t anticipate, and ‘I’ll get to that’ isn’t an acceptable answer. Although you’ll want to try to answer questions in a way that incorporates your message and brings things back around to where in the pitch you want to be, you need to know your pitch so well that you can give it in any order necessary without stumbling.

meeting a VC Investor

Knowledge

Let us reiterate that knowledge is crucial. Knowledge about the VC, knowledge about your industry, knowledge about your pitch itself. The last thing you want in your first VC meeting is to be stumped by one of their questions. Just don’t be a know-it-all, or no one will want to work with you.

We will go over some of the kinds of questions you’ll be asked (plus those you should be asking) in another article, but be prepared to talk about things like: scalability and your growth strategy; how specific outside influences will affect your business and how you’re prepared to adapt and overcome; about who might buy your company and what strategy you have for getting on their radar; and the more obvious ‘why you’ and ‘what’s stopping someone else doing the same thing tomorrow and competing?’ Seek knowledge, thirst for knowledge, become knowledge!


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Published on: 23rd February 2017

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