Posted by Anonymous on 2008-03-08
I raised $40m from top tier VCs 6 years ago and am now raising money again for another startup. While initially rusty, I quickly remembered how much of a game this is. Recently I spoke with 3 first time CEO who are raising money for the first time. Here are my 2 cents on a few items. I'm interested in others thoughts.
1. DO NOT leave or email your presentation. you are only educating them on your category (not your job) and informing your competitors. As CEO of a VC funded firm, I always was emailed the presentation of any competitor. IF they insist on seeing presentation before mtg, then they are not interested. All the top guys know this and thus take notes during the meeting. IF they are not taking notes during your meeting and still ask for prez, then they are not interested. DO send them some material to spark interest - founding team resume, paragraph overview, perhaps article about customer pain.
2. First 10 minutes are most critical. Yes, its very hard to get meeting, but once you have meeting, you need to QUALIFY and CONNECT with the partner in the first 10 minutes. Qualify by finding out how much they know about category and space. Connect with him or her personally (without .ppt on). Resist natural inclination to firehouse .ppt since you only now have 45 minutes. The ONLY purpose of the first meeting is to establish interest to have a follow on meeting. If they don't see enough promise in your team and market opportunity, then they will not fund deal and you need to move on.
3. Beware the "Head fake" to learn. "Yes, yes, this is VERY exciting. We want to do this deal." You get excited, send them your research and customer contacts, and they now have learned everything you learned on your dime. Deal excitement then dies. Instead, given them 1-2 very specific items of homework (perhaps contacts for you on due diligence, MAYBE 1 customer contact late in the process). Be constantly giving them homework and watch their _actions_ and not words.
4. Do not serialize pitches. Schedule as much presentations during same 2-3 weeks to generate excitement and interested. The #1 thing to get these guys to move or to pass is another firm putting down term sheet down or seriously looking at deal.
5. Don't forget - 90% will never say no. Pitch, given them homework, then move on. If they are interested, they will find you. It's in their financial best interest to keep as many deals open as possible (yes, this is incredibly frustrating for CEOs but it's the way it is).
6. Keep raising money until money is WIRED. Plenty of deals going south (yes even at top tier firms) before money is wired. Smile, but only believe money being wired.PRIVATE: Members Only