We’re in a deep recession, VC investments dried up, startups are shutting down and the World is coming to an end… or not?
I’m just back from a very lively Under the Radar conference where 32 startups presented and the audience was full of VCs looking for the next investment opportunity. Those who missed the UtR deadline, or just did not fit this event’s profile (Cloud Computing) will soon get another change at Launch Silicon Valley, co-presented by SVASE, Garage Technology Ventures and Microsoft.
In between these conferences there re are several smaller, more intimate events, like the SVASE VC Breakfast Club series. After a long time I’ll be back moderating the next breakfast meeting this Thursday, April 30st in San Francisco. As usual, this will be an informal round-table where up to 10 entrepreneurs get to deliver a pitch, then answer questions and get critiqued by a VC Partner. We’ve had VC’s from Draper Fisher, Kleiner Perkins, Mayfield, Mohr Davidow, Emergence Capital …etc. This Thursday’s VC is Lars Leckie, representing the first exclusively software-focused venture firm, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners.
These breakfast meetings are a valuable opportunity for Entrepreneurs, some of whom would likely have a hard time getting through the door to VC Partners. Since I’ve been through quite a few of these sessions, both as Entrepreneur and Moderator, let me share a few thoughts:
- It’s a pressure-free environment, with no PowerPoint presentations, live demos, Business Plans…etc, just casual conversation; but it does not mean you should come unprepared!
- Follow a structure, don’t just roam about what you would like to do, or even worse, spend all your time describing a problem, without addressing what your solution is.
- Don’t forget “small things” like the Team, Product, Market..etc.
- It would not hurt to mention how much you are looking for, and how you would use the funds…
- Write down and practice your pitch, and prepare to deliver a compelling story in 2-3 minutes. You will have about 8-10 minutes, the first half of which is your pitch, but believe me, whatever your practice time was, when you are on the spot, you will likely take twice as long to deliver your story. The second half of your time-slot is Q&A with the VC.
- Bring an Executive Summary; some VC’s like it, others don’t.
- Last, but not least, please be on time! I am not kidding… some of you know why I even have to bring this up. Arriving an hour late to a one-and-a-half-hour meeting is NOT acceptable, but we’ve had too many such incidents, so here’s a new rule: if you’re late by more than 20 minutes, you will not be allowed to join the session.