Venture 101: The Dating Game

MAY 20, 2018 | by PETER S.

The process of raising venture money is a lot like dating. Games are often played – encouraging encounters can end in ghosting, they might like your friend (competitor) better, and you have to finely walk that “I’m available” but also “hard to get” vibe. All you can do though is stay true to yourself (and vision), and coining a phrase from the great Joel Embiid, just trust the process. Below we have outlined some of our dating (put a line through dating?) fundraising tips.

How do I get a date?

VC’s are sourcing double-digit deals per week and their inboxes are often flooded. Simply put, they are serial daters.  A cold inbound email or Linkedin Message often gets lost in the shuffle. Consider this style like shooting your shots in the DM’s –which didn’t even workfor our friend Joel Embiid. And while your target VC might not be Rihanna caliber, you need to cut through the noise. Try leveraging a relationship with one of their “friends”, as VC’s value deal flow from their respective peers at other firms. Founder intros also carry significant weight, as someone that they really trust. So the key is to find a warm lead and demonstrate that you have the ability to network and navigate the scene.

Do your homework

While it’s imperative to stay true to yourself and vision, tailor your pitch based on the audience. Understand how the fund invests and about their specific criteria. Show that you care about them and it’s not just about you. Ask questions! Do not necessarilychangefor them, but instead emphasize the points you think they will find most interesting or important. VC’s want you to maintain your convictions, but it’s also important to listen and consider advice and other points of views. Demonstrate that you are always looking to improve yourself (and the company) but will maintain the core principles and factors that got you to this point.  

Don’t cheat!

This is particularly important because it’s a small community that speaks frequently. If you are dishonest about your business metrics or exaggerate existing conversations with other firms, you will quickly be exposed. Relationships are everything, and even though you will certainly run into “bad-daters” and “ghosters” on the other side of the table, maintain the high road and leave all bridges intact.

How do I sell myself?

Be yourself but exude passion. It helps to craft a narrative and to keep tweaking “your story”, but demonstrate how big and exciting the opportunity is, why it’s your life calling, and how you are uniquely equipped to achieve success. Emphasize the hurdles you have overcome and the early wins, but also hold certain chips in your back pocket. Don’t over-sell yourself and feel the need to convince the VC, but rather let the conversation unfold as organically as possible.

That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for our upcoming series of exclusive interviews with New York based VCs.

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