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Stepping into the Shoes of a VC reveals why your Startup isn’t Getting Funded

Sourcing for funding to jumpstart your startup? Find out what you need to know before meeting up with a potential investor.

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Published by Tech in Asia
on 10 Apr 2017

Stepping into the shoes of a VC reveals why your startup isn’t getting funded

Author: Nikhil Kapur


At the outset, please accept my apologies if this post seems pretentious. The key takeaways from this are not “how I live my life” nor “how busy I am,” but are summarized at the bottom of this post. With that off my chest, let’s begin.

When entering into a partnership/professional relationship with someone (customer, investor, employee, etc.), I feel it is essential to understand the other person properly. This is even more important if you are a founder trying to pitch to an investor. You should know how they lead their lives.

It seemed sensible for me to recount what a day in the life of a VC looks like. And, unlike popular misconceptions, this is not what we do everyday:

Stepping into the Shoes of a VC reveals why your Startup isn’t Getting Funded

The schedule

Here’s a minute-by-minute account of what tomorrow really looks like for me:

7:30 am I wake up and the first thing I do is check my emails. I know this is a bad habit—I am trying to get rid of it.

9:00 am I am off to work, reading emails, newsletters, deal news, Tech In Asia, Fred Wilson, Crunchbase, CBInsights, etc.

9:30 am I get to the office, coffee in hand. I plug in my laptop and crunch out a few emails.

10:00 am It’s the first startup meeting of the day and I’m grabbing coffee with an ecommerce stealth-mode startup (pre-product). I would have already read the deck by this time.

11:00 am I have a monthly update call with a portfolio company, getting feedback on their current fundraising situation and making sure KPIs are growing. If things look bad, I’d need to brainstorm on possible solutions.

12:00 pm I’m meeting Albert for lunch. As some of you might know, he just moved on to another firm. This is our proper team get together. 🙂

1:00 pm It’s the second startup meeting of the day and I’m grabbing coffee with a data analytics company (seed stage). Again, I’d have read the deck beforehand.

2:00 pm It’s the third startup meeting of the day and I’m still at the coffee shop, but with no more coffee. I’m meeting a construction tech company (seed stage).

3:00 pm I’ll probably take a quick bathroom break and then will be on to my fourth startup meeting of the day. This time it’ll be with an ecommerce enabler (seed stage).

4:00 pm I’m interviewing for our summer intern position at the coffee shop, trying to shoo away the waiters breathing down my neck asking, “Something else for you, Sir?”

4:30 pm I’ll take a half an hour break. Phew, finally. Quick, send some emails, reply to any WhatsApp messages, read the deck for the next meeting, and read TechCrunch/Tech In Asia/Medium.

5:00 pm I’m having my fifth startup meeting of the day via a Skype call. It’s with a construction tech company again. (What’s up with the construction industry all of  a sudden?)

6:00 pm I’m taking a cab to an event.

6:30 pm I’m attending a tech event on deep learning. I have to stay updated with what the geeks are talking about. AI/ML I get, but deep learning and neural networks have me bamboozled.

8:00 pm I’m meeting a fellow VC for dinner, chatting about anything and everything startup.

10:00 pm I’ve arrived home. It’s time to get some work done. Two hours of nonstop work, reading legal documents, replying to any urgent emails, finishing a few pending analyses on startups that pitched a week ago, and any urgent portfolio work.

12:00 am I’m shutting down my computer, talking to my girlfriend, then I’ll read a book.

1:00 am Night night!

The next day: Rinse. Repeat.

So what does this mean for you?

Why bore you with the sordid details of my day? There are a few takeaways from this, which are particularly important to know before you walk into that meeting with an investor.

VCs have very low attention spans

Try as I may, if you don’t excite me in the first 15 minutes, I’ll likely start drifting off with thoughts like “What’s on my calendar next?,” “I should have read that pitch for the next meeting already,” “Didn’t  I hear something similar two months ago in India?,” “Damn I forgot to reply to my partner’s email,” “God, I need another coffee,” and “That croissant on the next table looks nice, maybe I should order one.”

OK, I am exaggerating. I do try hard to listen, but I have my failures sometimes, and it’s only human. Out of the five meetings I take, I am likely to pick a maximum of two or three ideas to pursue further. You need to be one of them.

Make sure you catch the investor’s attention within the first five minutes and make sure it’s a two-way conversation, not a monologue pitch.

VCs make quick decisions

At least good (fair) VCs do. I’ll mull over my concerns later, but usually by the end of the first meeting, as we shake hands, I’d have already decided on whether to bring this up in our pipeline meeting for a discussion or not. Make sure you have addressed a VC’s current queries/concerns in your first meeting, otherwise, they are unlikely to take it any further.

Make your pitch deck count

As you are probably up against five startups on the same day and probably 20 other pitch decks this week, make sure your pitch deck is short, to the point, and complete. Here are some good resources from DocSend and Guy Kawasaki.

Send your deck in advance

What you don’t want is a VC walking in without having already read your deck and you explaining what your company does for the first 15 minutes. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, send a meeting reminder with your PDF deck attached one day before the meeting.

As a personal preference, don’t send DocSend, Google Docs, PPT, or PPS files. Use PDF. I want to be able to read your deck on the go, on my mobile, without entering freakishly long passwords and being tracked on how much time I spend on which page.

Do not spam on LinkedIn

If you message me on LinkedIn, you are the least of my priorities. I might end up taking a look when I find some time, but it will usually be one or two weeks later, and I’ll only reply if I am interested, which is one out of 100 cases. Your best way to connect with an investor is through a referral or an event, but not on LinkedIn and never through cold emails.

Keep these things in mind and do your research before you go into that meeting. All the best and drop me a note below in case you struggle with any of these or any other issues.


Original Article From: https://www.techinasia.com/talk/shoes-vc-reveals-startup-funded

Last Modified Date: 29 Mar 2018