Thursday, February 26, 2009

Startups and Venture capitalists

Below are some of the comments and suggestions; I received for my question(s) to one of the top networking forums:

My question is two fold, How does one approach a venture capitalist? and how to identify the right venture capitalist?. Would highly appreciate any thoughts/suggestions on this.

[1] Response from Jon Scherrer Business Development, Sales, Marketing Executive
Two really good questions. I would reverse the order and focus on identifying a group of VC candidates that you would like to present to and then work on your approach plan (as it might be different for each).

To identify the right group think about what attributes are important to you such as money, corporate guidance, networking...and what are the things you don't want to have such as micro-management or a hyper-growth exit strategy (these might be things you want as well).

Finally, preparation is always the key. Spend the time doing your due diligence on a solid business plan and executive summary. Below is someone you might want to reach out to for help. Mike has been working with startups for quite some time and can give you some great advice and help.

[2] Response from Furqan Nazeeri President & CEO at Viridus, Inc.
Check out TheFunded. Also, you can find some "how-to" content on Altgate.

[3] Response from Ryan B. Smith Founder at ConferenceEdge LLC
There are a number of good sites out there that provide access to VC, however, in knowing whom to approach you need to understand what motivates them.

If your company/idea is in the "green/environmental" arena your best shot is likely VC's who have invested in that sector before as VC tend to invest in what they know.

Create a list of 3 target markets that your products fits (web, environmental, minority, etc.) into and as you look through the available lists of VC firms note the ones that invest in any of those sectors.

Once you've got that list together start looking at the VC portfolio's (they usually list the companies they have invested in on their websites or just call them and ask) and remove (YES remove) any VC's that have invested in a company that you believe would be a competitor of yours.

Who's left? Find the top ten VC's that you would like to work with and find out how they accept deal flow. Write a very brief letter explaining that you have an opportunity that you would like them to look at, explain why you think they would be interested (e.g. "you've invested in ABC company which is complimentary to what I do", etc.) in your offer.

Indicate that you are willing to sign a standard non-disclosure agreement or something that shows you aren't trying to sue them (this step is of course debatable).

Also it never hurts to bring in an experienced exec who already has contacts with VC firms and can get your opportunity presented to the right companies without all the leg work on your part. Just expect to pay for that effort, either in cash up front or a percentage of any deal that happens.

[4] Response from Lance Dunkin [LION] Startup Financial Projection Consultant
I would first figure out how much money to raise by creating 60-month financial projections.

Unless you need $2-3M+ you won't be looking to a venture capitalist, but rather you might consider an angel investor (50k to 1M) or even other forms of financing.

If you still find yourself in the VC range after creating financial projections, I think your best bet is networking into one. Good ideas are more common than people think. Good teams might be more important. VC's see a lot of good ideas and might be more interested in them if they come as a tip from a trusted friend. Response from Dana Blozis Freelance Writer, Editor & Marketing Professional, Virtually Yourz
I recently wrote a story for Seattle Business on small business funding which briefly include venture capital firms. I think what any investor wants to know what your business plan consists of and what your expense and revenue projections are for the first several years. They'll also want to look carefully at the industry you are choosing to work in, as some are volatile and not attractive investments right now, as well as your experience level. Do you have what it takes to make your business plan succeed?

For specific documentation often requested by investors, whether traditional financing firms or not, I recommend the website. There is a ton of information about what you need to do to develop a solid business plan and how to approach potential investors. It's a great, free resource.

Good luck to you!

Virtually Yourz,

Dana Blozis


Prasanna Mumbai said...

u truely rock. looks like u are putting a lots of efforts in this.
Keep gng.

Elizabeth Taylor said...

If the money spent wasn't bad enough, they also have a focus on things that are completely irrelevant early on in a start-up like creating big-name advisory boards and management teams..
business plan startups