Pitch it!
36.8K views | +8 today
Follow
Pitch it!
Startups, Entrepreneurs, be better informed before you 'Pitch it'!
Curated by Marc Kneepkens
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

Inside the boot camp that teaches startup founders how to raise millions of dollars

Inside the boot camp that teaches startup founders how to raise millions of dollars | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
First Round's Pitch Assist program helps startups raise their funding.

Dennis Pilarinos was frustrated and a little "pissed off" after his first day in a special program that teaches startup CEOs the delicate art of raising money.

The CEO of Buddybuild was eager to go deep into the specifics of his company, but he was told he was doing it all wrong. Instead, he was instructed to focus on what he considered big-picture platitudes.

"I was completely wrong," acknowledges Pilarinos, who now credits the program with helping him raise more than $7.4 million in two weeks for his startup. Read more: click image or title.

 

Learn more about funding, find great funding sources, get a free business plan template, post your funding request for free, and more: www.Business-Funding-Insider.com

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

#VC's are teaching their #startup #founders how to raise funds for the next round.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

6 Ways to Build a Lasting 'Co-Founder Team' for Your Startup

6 Ways to Build a Lasting 'Co-Founder Team' for Your Startup | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Make those important decisions upfront, so your relationship works like a well-oiled machine.

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together," advises an old African proverb. And the data on startup unicorns (billion-dollar companies founded since 2000), adds substance to those words: Of the estimated 80-plus unicorns worldwide, more than 90 percent began with a team of two or more.

Working alongside a co-founder, then, seems to significantly improve your startup's chances to succeed. But it also raises some risks. Specifically, one of the most common reasons startups fail is co-founder disputes, and those disputes can become a particularly big problem when the co-founder is a friend. Aside from the risk of losing your startup, you may lose a friendship. So, friend or no, if you have a co-founder, make sure that you build a solid base before jumping in. Here are some ways to do that. Read more: click image or title.




Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

"Hello Dave,
You are a treasure to the Business community.
I have completed my business plan on the second day with your template.  And I had tried and failed for a year before."
Dawson


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Clear #agreements are extremely important when working together. #Founders need to realize that different outcomes are possible.

more...
ventureLAB's curator insight, November 4, 2015 4:00 PM

'Clear #agreements are extremely important when working together. #Founders need to realize that different outcomes are possible'- Marc Kneepkens.  True

Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from High Above the Clouds
Scoop.it!

Top angels warn of big mistakes founders, funders must avoid to succeed - Silicon Valley Business Journal (blog)

Silicon Valley Business Journal (blog) Top angels warn of big mistakes founders, funders must avoid to succeed Silicon Valley Business Journal (blog)


"I started telling the entrepreneur what my idea was for his business," he recalled of the deal that ended badly. "I invested in what I thought was my idea because he just said it back to me. That's a smart way to fundraise. But he was obviously not interested in my idea."


..."Making a bold statement in your slides that is a misrepresentation, that's death," Guerra said. "Another that may not be death, but will turn everybody's hearing aid off starts with, 'If we only get 1 percent of this $10 billion market." If you start out with one of those "If we only get" pitches, you're gone. You need to tell us what you are going to do to get 1 percent of that market."Rivera, who is very interested in education startups, warned, "Don't tell me education is a multi-trilllion dollar market. Don't add up the numbers on a global basis and give me something that is completely meaningless in terms of market size or their ability to capture a part of the market. If you put something like that in your deck you probably aren't going to even get a meeting."... Read more: click on title.




Discover how to raise capital on your terms, by legally soliciting and selling securities to angel investors in the United States.

Check out…    http://bit.ly/1Lr9RrI


Via High Above the Clouds
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

These thoughts on funding by #Angelinvestors and the mistakes they made are priceless for #founders.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

Here's what makes 500 Startups' latest batch the future of entrepreneurship

Here's what makes 500 Startups' latest batch the future of entrepreneurship | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Sitting in the audience at the 13th batch of accelerator 500 Startups yesterday, something in my brain ticked. There was a difference to this batch that I couldn’t quite place, but it was palpable.

Then, I looked down at my notes and realized something: there was a significant number of female founders taking the stage and pitching companies. Perhaps more than I’d ever seen before from an accelerator in my time as a reporter.

I checked the facts, and it seemed to support my claim: according to a blog post from the accelerator, 500 Startups Batch 13 in Mountain View had 28 companies in total, and 46% of them have at least one woman on the founding team. To do some quick and easy math, at least 12 companies from the batch included at least one female founder on the team.

I inquired about the number, and was told by 500 Startups that Batch 13, “is the most diverse batch than any other when it comes to female/male ratio. ” Read more: click image or title.




Need funding?

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

More diversity. 500 Startups is opening up opportunities for #startup #founders in every aspect.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

How To Make The Most Of Your Startup Accelerator Program Experience

How To Make The Most Of Your Startup Accelerator Program Experience | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Seed accelerators have been around for 10 years now and their popularity doesn’t appear to be waning any time soon. Sure, criticism for the programs themselves and the proliferation of different programs around the world have taken some wind out of the sails, but primarily, joining an accelerator program – or rather, being accepted to an accelerator – is still considered valuable and an endorsement of the concept and business model.

The best accelerators are incredibly competitive – Y Combinator and TechStars have application acceptance rates as low as 1 to 3 percent. Luckily for my company, we were accepted to the 2014 TechStars Boston class. I want to share how we did everything we possibly could to get the most out of TechStars in the short time we had under their umbrella – and how any startup can replicate those best practices in their own accelerator or incubator.

Our methods aren’t for every company, but hopefully you can learn from some of our strategies – specifically what worked and what didn’t. Read more: click image or title.




Need funding?

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Ever wondered what happens in an #accelerator and how to take most advantage of the experience? This #CEO describes the process and what he did to get the most out of it.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

Hey, entrepreneurs: Get a job | VentureBeat | Entrepreneur | by Mark Weiner, Centrify

Hey, entrepreneurs: Get a job | VentureBeat | Entrepreneur | by Mark Weiner, Centrify | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/YN6M

Why you should be an employee in Silicon Valley before you become an entrepreneur.

Most young entrepreneurs today want to bypass the whole employment thing and go straight to being the boss. Like their heroes — Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, et al — they imagine they can change the world without any on-the-job training.

The reality, of course, is that 99.99 percent of young entrepreneurs aren’t in the same league as those guys. And for people like that, there are a number of very good reasons for pressing pause on the entrepreneurial dream, at least for a few years, to gain the invaluable experience of actually working at a Silicon Valley company.

Over the course of my career, I’ve held leadership positions at seven different startups, six of which had successful exits. Here’s my advice to the next generation of startup founders.

Don’t jump into entrepreneurship right away. Your first step should be to join a growing company in Silicon Valley. This is where you can build your network, gain leadership experience, and really learn how the startup model works. Yes, entrepreneurship is your ultimate goal. But beforehand, take some time to map out how you’re going to get there. Read more: http://snip.ly/YN6M


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Gathering experience in different functions is definitely a good idea. Also, most entrepreneurs lean more to either being technical or an administrator. Leadership does not come out of thin air. It grows with experience.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

The Good and the Bad of Bootstrapping

The Good and the Bad of Bootstrapping | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

When you start a business, there are many financing options to consider — friends and family, small business loans, angel investment, VCs — but there is no textbook solution for getting a new business off the ground.

One option that entrepreneurs, investors, and average Joes love to love is bootstrapping. Rather than seeking external funding, entrepreneurs who bootstrap their companies rely on savings, early cash flow and conservative money management. The age-old concept of the American dream lives on in the world of startups — we have pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps.

My co-founders and I have confronted the good, the bad, and the ugly of choosing not to use outside capital in the inception and growth of Ampush. Here’s my take on the double-edged sword known as bootstrapping:

Retaining Full Control

Without a board to impose its ideas, timelines or limits, we are able to be opportunistic, nimble and adaptive. We determine which strategic vision to follow. Since we don’t have to wait for approval, we can execute that vision or make changes at our own speed. We also learn at our own pace; we make mistakes but keep going. By retaining full control of the company, my co-founders — the people who understand the business best and run it day to day — and I are in control of its future.

For every pro of retaining full control, there is also a con. As an independent, we are responsible for making decisions that might be unpopular with clients, employees or partners, but that are right for the business. We are also unable to tap into the valuable networks of board members because — guess what! — we are the board. Because no one is looking over our collective shoulder, it can take much longer to figure out that we have made a mistake. These are not impossible hurdles to overcome, but it requires a little extra work and reaching out to mentors in the industry to lend their expertise.

Clients Take Center Stage

We often see other entrepreneurs build businesses that their VCs or boards want them to build, rather than ones their customers want. We don’t have that problem; we know who butters our bread (our clients) and we keep them front and center always when making decisions. We’re focused on their needs and making their lives better.

However, going at it alone can put limitations on our flexibility. What happens if we lose our biggest client? Everything will stop until they come back or we find other clients. Sometimes building the right solution for our clients is expensive and, without an injection of capital, we have to be scrappy when it comes to R&D.

Managing Resources

Because there’s no “free” money floating around, each new team member knows and appreciates the value of a dollar. After all, the founders went 18 months without a salary and found a way to get their first clients and travel to conferences for free. At Ampush, we call this hustle. One of our mottos is Invest Rather Than Spend — it keeps the team focused on creative ways to solve problems. There will be times when we do need to spend on something or someone, like recruiting or internal tools. But we only do so if we can ensure that these expenditures will reap bigger rewards.

Without outside investment, near-term cash flow and revenue almost always matter. We constantly thread the needle: keep growing aggressively while managing cash flow and planning for rainy days. While this near-term focus ensures that business will keep driving forward, as revenue is the key to the future, bootstrapping can hinder forward thinking and building for the long haul.

Bootstrapping a company is no easy feat, but it comes with a whole host of rewards. We are in full control of our destiny. We focus solely on our clients and are always aware of our resources and how to get the most out of them.


Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km



Marc Kneepkens's insight:

VC's and Angel Investors will appreciate the fact that founders were bootstrapping and working with their own funds. It shows commitment and focus. Getting successful that way and then looking for additional funding allows them to invest in serious companies who will not squander their monies and who have a client base and working business model, not just and idea.

more...
StaceyKirsch's curator insight, October 10, 2014 8:54 PM

Build the business you want to build, but make every dollar count

Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Startup , Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Acquisitions
Scoop.it!

Founders Should Focus On Two Things, and Only Two Things.

Founders Should Focus On Two Things, and Only Two Things. | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Focus is everything. As John Lee Dumas puts it FOCUS is “Follow One Course Until Success”. It is easy to get caught up in Meetups, connecting with other entrepreneurs, reading books that are good but not necessarily helping you with your business TODAY and spending way too much time on the non-essential parts of your business such as branding, marketing, etc.

I think Paul Graham from Y Combinator hits the nail on the head “A startup founder should be writing code and talking to users. That’s it.” As entrepreneurs we tend to get a little ADD but it’s vital we remind ourselves that the ultimate path to success is through building strong learning environments around users and quickly developing a solid minimum viable product (MVP) to get validation sooner rather than later.

Take time to meditate on the current distribution of your time and realign your prioritizes as needed. Go get ‘em!


Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km


Via Ivan Berlocher
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Exactly, focus is everything. Whether you write code or create a new product or service, make it happen. And find out from your customers if this is what they really want.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

Why Startup Founders Happily Give Up 90% Of Their Companies

Why Startup Founders Happily Give Up 90% Of Their Companies | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
These days, by the time a tech company goes public, the founders tend to own very little of it. We asked two founders: what gives?

Many people in the tech industry dream of building a startup, making it grow, taking it public, and growing rich along the way.

All of that is perfectly possible, but one thing these dreamers don't always realize is that these days, by the time a tech company goes public, the founders tend to own very little of it.

Often they own less than 10% of their own companies. For instance, among the tech industry's most recent S1 forms, Aaron Levie, founder of Box, will own about 6% after the IPO. Zendesk co-founder and CEO Mikkel Svane will own about 8% after the IPO.

We asked two founders of two hot startups, "What gives?"

To read the full article, click on the title or image.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Still significant stakes, and key people in the organization get them also.

more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Disruptive Entrepreneurship & Innovation
Scoop.it!

How to calculate the equity split between co-founders in a startup

How to calculate the equity split between co-founders in a startup | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

George Deeb is the Managing Partner at Chicago-based Red Rocket Ventures, a startup consulting and financial advisory firm based in Chicago. You can follow George on Twitter at @georgedeeb and @RedRocketVC.

 

There are a lot of variables to go into calculating a fair equity split a startup team. These key factors must consider each employee’s role(s) within the company, the compensation they receive for their work, the people investing in the company, and the people behind the idea of the company. Let’s tackle each of these points below.

To read the full article, click on the title.


Is your Business Plan working? Is it Succeeding? http://bit.ly/1iHk8zP


Via Russ Merz, Ph.D.
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Starting out on the right foot is extremely important. Sit down and agree, before you get into huge disagreements.

more...
Russ Merz, Ph.D.'s curator insight, November 20, 2013 7:28 PM

Discusses four factors to take into consideration when determining equity split among venture partners.

Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Startups
Scoop.it!

How a Seed VC Approaches Pre-Product Startups |...

How a Seed VC Approaches Pre-Product Startups |... | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

It can be tricky for pre-product startups to know how to position themselves during a fundraise. Seed VC Rob Go opens up about his investment process. | start up

Editor’s note: At a recent team meeting at NextView, we looked at the high number of startups we invested in which were pre-product at the time. The question arose: What is a seed VC’s process like when a company is pre-product? The below article answers that question. You can also find a graphic outlining Rob’s process in detail here.

A big chunk of our investments at NextView have been made pre-product. We have a bias towards very early stage investing for a bunch of reasons, but it’s not easy. It’s often a good idea for founders to find a way to build something and get some early market validation before raising outside capital. But doing that is sometimes not practical given your personal runway or because the product you want to build requires additional capital very early on.

So, how do you go about raising money for a company pre-product? And how does an investor think about a pre-product opportunity? I think this stage, more than others, is very dependent on the individual investor. But here’s how I tend to think about companies at this stage, which I think is broad enough to provide some guidance for founders at this early stage…

Essentially, my pre-product framework is as follows:

Read more: click image or title.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km


Via StartupYard
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

#Pre-product #funding is a challenge. Here is a good explanation and advice from someone who does it all the time. #Seedfunding by a #SeedCEO


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

11 Grants for Women-Owned Businesses You Need to Know About

11 Grants for Women-Owned Businesses You Need to Know About | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
You already know you're unstoppable. Here's how to get the cash to prove it.

In 2014, there were close to 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, a 68 percent increase since 1997, according to The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report from American Express. This percentage increase exceeded the national average of small business growth by 1.5 times.

It also illustrated what we already know: Women entrepreneurs are having a tremendous impact on the small business landscape nationwide.

Yet to continue to be competitive and grow, these entrepreneurs have to find funding for their ventures. And, alarmingly, women entrepreneurs are increasingly being turned away by banks for small business loans. Thankfully, they still have other options, given the rise of technology-driven financial lending sources -- such as online loans, peer-to-peer loans and crowdfunding.

Then there are government grants. While not widely known or used, these grants are another great option for women seeking extra funding for their business ventures. They just take a little more work. Read more: click on image or title.


Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Another option to get your business started is to obtain a #grant.

This article offers a good introduction and has a list for #women

's grants.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

Lessons Learned From My First Startups

Lessons Learned From My First Startups | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

I was born an engineer and an introvert. The rest is pretty predictable.

When I was three I obsessed over jigsaw puzzles. At five, LEGO. I showed whatever I built to my mom, and she gave me a stream of positive, non-objective feedback. She didn’t need completed puzzles or LEGO models; she would have loved anything I built.

By 11, I was writing video games on my Amstrad CPC-464. At 15, my best friend Eddie (an English kid living in Kansas and a Japanophile) and I were spending much of our time building and playing games. (Yes, we were the biggest nerds in our school.)

We only had two customers — ourselves — and we iterated according to our collective wishes. It made the games better, and it made the experience of building them more fun.

Fifteen years later I joined a data-storage company called Isilon. I ran the performance team, and got the job of turning one of the world’s slowest storage systems into something that our potential customers didn’t laugh at. Read more, click image or title.




Need funding?

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

There is no way to be an expert in every aspect of building a startup. Many founders start as programmers and are very smart tech people. That does not make them businessmen or marketers. This is an honest article that shows many startup mistakes. Learn as you go, but shorten the process: get informed.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

Charting A Path From Seed To A Competitive Series A Round

Charting A Path From Seed To A Competitive Series A Round | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Over the past five years, there has been roughly $3 billion of capital invested in nearly 3,500 seed-stage companies, with the number of seed investments rising every year. According to CB Insights, 2014 saw the largest year of seed investing since 2009, with a record $1.3 billion of capital invested in almost 1,000 seed companies. Many of these seed founders have high hopes of raising the subsequent up rounds that can lead to a defining moment for their team, investors and advisers: an attractive acquisition or an IPO.

The reality is that raising seed capital is only the beginning of a long and sometimes turbulent journey of startup experimentation, and only a small percentage of seed companies will emerge from the gulf of experimentation to reach a Series A round....


...

Companies that reach highly competitive Series A rounds typically have systematically reduced their company’s product, market and execution risk during the seed stage. The founders of these companies use their seed capital to efficiently orchestrate a process-oriented set of experiments that culminate in evidence of product-market fit.

From a product perspective, their product teams are characterized by product, technical, and/or domain experts who can build compelling products that address concrete market needs. These teams study the engagement of their users/customers, and discover how users/customers are interacting with their products and the value customers are deriving. These companies have multi-talented, growing, and disciplined product teams that sometimes execute against a product roadmap that has feedback loops to help inform product development.

Read more: click image or title.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km

Great info. Loving your business plan template, makes writing a plan almost fun.


Craig Heppell
Nambour, Queensland

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Must read article for every founder who is serious about building a great business and wants/needs to think beyond the seed funding stage.

more...
Marianne Naughton's curator insight, May 20, 2015 12:40 PM

Developing seed techs ... 

Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

Sneaky Questions Early-Stage VCs Ask Founders

Sneaky Questions Early-Stage VCs Ask Founders | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

During conversations with VCs, entrepreneurs will often encounter a few sneaky questions that have nothing to do with their actual businesses today. Many of these are attempts by investors to learn something specific that they don’t want to ask directly, and there’s usually some kind of hidden meaning behind a given question. Some VCs may just be fishing for more information, but many are looking for specific “right” answers.

It’s a funny dance, and while experienced entrepreneurs know what’s going on and how to respond, these questions can easily trip up a founder going through the fundraise process for the first time.

Below are some examples and suggested responses. Of course, it’s always best to be honest and authentic, so this is not a proposed script so much as additional context to incorporate into your own thinking. Read more: click on title or image.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Dave....
I downloaded your business plan template ...It is  great!!! we have a successful delivery service already running today ...This plan is for a new liquor store idea ...my tax consultants say your plan is amazing..Thanks Dave!!!
Aja Noyes
Shift Gear Deliveries

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Dealing with VC's is quite a challenge. They see many startups and only pick the most promising for another conversation. The questions they ask are like probes going into your sense of doing business. Everything you say tells them a story. Since they do this for a living they are very well versed in asking the right questions. You need to find the right answers. This article explains some of their thought processes.

more...
Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, April 29, 2015 7:49 PM

Anticipating the questions from your investors (VC's in this article) will create a huge advantage in your funding process. Understand what they are looking for and what their questions mean.

Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

The personal costs of raising money | VentureBeat | Entrepreneur | by Francisco Dao, 50Kings

The personal costs of raising money | VentureBeat | Entrepreneur | by Francisco Dao, 50Kings | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/7bMn

In the tech industry, we celebrate raising money as a victory second only to that of a successful exit. But there's a huge downside to raising money that isn't often discussed.

And while I recognize that venture capital is often an unavoidable requirement for growing a business, most entrepreneurs, and the tech community at large — who often seem to push people into raising VC — would be better served viewing it as a necessary evil as opposed to an absolute win.

I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories of entrepreneurs getting fired from their companies by their VCs, but most of those stories only tell the tale of the final straw. Have you ever thought about all the intermediate steps and indignities that came before the firing? Before those entrepreneurs signed the first term sheet, whatever they were working on was theirs and theirs alone. If you think about it, it’s a long journey from owning it all to getting fired from your dream. That’s a journey that is rarely discussed and not well understood.


Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km

"I have so much gratitude in my soul right now. Growthink has helped me to come a long way since I've found the company and started making my business plan.
I'm counting my blessings every day."
Best Regards,
Trevor Houlihan



Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Keep your independence or work for the VC's? Big question.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

How To Raise Venture Capital

How To Raise Venture Capital | Pitch it! | Scoop.it


It’s no secret that entrepreneurs need funding to launch or grow their nascent companies, and some will seek the support of venture capitalists (VCs) to fulfill their ambitions. For many entrepreneurs, myself included, pitching to potential investors is far from an enjoyable task; at times, it can even appear to be a wasted effort. According to this report, venture capitalists provided $29.5 billion in funding to 3,382 businesses in 2013, so they have earned an unfortunate reputation as a necessary evil in the startup world.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly first-time founders, don’t know how to engage or attract potential investors. Inexperienced entrepreneurs employ a blanket approach by giving the same rehearsed spiel to any venture capitalist who is willing to listen. In the end, nobody wins.

My current company, Retention Science, is my third business endeavor, and through the course of raising money for three companies, I learned firsthand how arduous and difficult the fundraising process could be. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. The negative stigma associated with securing funding isn’t a given; it doesn’t have to be a nerve-racking ordeal, and it certainly doesn’t have to be a perpetual disappointment.

I’ve learned a few key tactics that can prove invaluable when pitching a company to prospective investors.

Don’t Talk To Everybody

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not wise to pitch to anybody who will listen (though it is understandably difficult to say no to meetings). Your time is just as valuable as the VCs and you should only meet with VCs who specialize in your field.

It is also critical to identify the right partner to pitch to within a VC. Every partner has different investment interests, styles and seniority within the firm. Start by targeting ones who are most likely to be interested in your company.

When I started Retention Science, we listed ourselves on AngelList, a popular funding platform for startups, and received around 25 intro requests, but we only took meetings with a select few that made sense for our company. For instance, I met with Katherine Barr at Mohr Davidow Ventures because of their proven track record with successful B2B enterprise companies like Rocket Fuel  and Rally Software. They also had a known venture partner, Geoffrey Moore, who authored Crossing the Chasm, a respected publication on selling and marketing high-tech products like ours.

Look Into Your Own Network

One way to filter the investors you should meet up with is to target people who you already know, either directly or indirectly. After all, it is much easier for VCs to take an aspiring entrepreneur seriously when introduced by someone they already trust or know.

For instance, Andy Rankin, one of our earliest Angel Investors, introduced me to Kirsten Green, the founder of Forerunner Ventures. At the time, I wasn’t actively seeking capital, and I had instead hoped to be given the opportunity to work with her impressive list of portfolio companies, including Bonobos, Warby Parker and Birchbox. As we continued discussions, however, Kirsten realized that many of her commerce-based portfolio companies had the exact same needs that Retention Science was addressing. Our conversation quickly shifted away from a sales angle to a fundraising one because Kirsten was interested in being a part of the company. The shift was very serendipitous and natural once we realized that we’d be great partners with each other. But if it weren’t for the initial connection by Andy, we’d have never met Kirsten in the first place.

Research, Research, and Research More

Pitching to investors involves making a personal connection and telling a story they can relate to from their own investment experiences. A successful pitch is not only about the idea; it is about helping the investors to see your vision, size up the market, and, most importantly, foresee a profitable business model. Assuming you already know everything there is about your industry, make sure you thoroughly research everyone you will be speaking to so you can identify ways to connect on a personal level.

Whenever I confirmed a meeting with prospective investors at VC firms, I would thoroughly research all the partners who I might speak to. I familiarized myself with their previous investments, their philosophies, and their LinkedIn profiles, and I drafted notes and questions based on this information.

By the time I actually arrived at the meeting, I was able to modify my pitch to reflect the specific investment and professional experiences of the partners who were present. By the time I pitched for Retention Science, I convinced four partners from Mohr Davidow to sign on with us within a 24 hour span, the quickest turnaround I’ve ever had.

Be Yourself

When pitching to investors, it can be all too easy to revert to a façade of no-nonsense professionalism. However, it is important to remember to be yourself and to act natural. After all, as much as partners invest in an idea, they also invest in people.

As the saying goes, you are only human, so relax. It will make it much easier to demonstrate your knowledge of the problem you are trying to solve, your expertise in the market you are trying to enter, and your genuine excitement to create a viable, profitable solution.

Investors are trained to see through the “smoke and mirrors” of superficiality. They are generally good judges of character regardless of how you present yourself. So the best bet is to go into a meeting as yourself. An advisor once recommended that I pitch myself and my business differently to compensate for my youth and my enthusiasm, which, I was told, made me seem inexperienced and desperate. I tried to modify my actions accordingly, but in the end, I realized that I wouldn’t want to partner with an investor who wasn’t willing to work with me as I am.

You Can’t Control Everything, Such As Timing & Luck

Timing is everything in life, and it no different for fundraising. The outcome of many interactions with investors will hinge on the timing of the meeting. Some factors are beyond your control. If a VC just concluded a successful investment with a company similar to your own, they are more likely to look favorably on your proposal. But if they just came out of a lengthy board meeting, you may have difficulty capturing their full attention. Though you have no way of knowing an investor’s state of mind, you can at least do a little casual probing to gauge their mind frame before you launch into your pitch, and adjust accordingly.

There are some factors that you can control. If a VC gets in touch with you about setting up a meeting, be prompt to respond. You’ll be more likely to guarantee yourself an optimal time slot. Also, make sure to show up earlier than your meeting time. With luck, you may be able to snag a few extra minutes of time to pitch your company.

It is also critical to remember that VCs are generally busy people with jobs and lives outside of their meetings, so it will likely be difficult for them all to gather in a single room and agree to place their money in a certain company. The decision-making process is often delayed, so remain patient. At the same time, while persistence is always good, avoid resorting to obsessive emails or phone calls, which can quickly morph into annoyance.

Follow Up and Perform Due Diligence

Fundraising is not rocket science, yet many entrepreneurs drop the ball when closing a deal. Remember that a verbal commitment is not the same as a signed agreement, so keep working with your partners until the money is in the bank.

Until the partnership is legally finalized, make sure you attentively and directly answer all of the requests that come your way—investors take everything into account when forming their impression of you, and they are probably taking notes on how well you respond to their additional requests when handling the final steps of the fundraising process. Expect to receive numerous follow-up requests of all types, and respond to them in a thorough, timely, and professional manner.

Final Thoughts

Fundraising has developed a negative stigma, possibly because entrepreneurs see it as a necessary evil and a stressful ordeal. But it does not have to be the case. Fundraising involves more than just securing financial support – it also entails working with the right partners who can take a company to new heights. So rather than fear the process of raising money, cherish the learning experience and revel in the opportunity to make new connections.

Though it may sound cliché, fundraising is much like getting married. Your partner provides not only financial support; they also lend you their expertise, time, and invaluable advice. Our investors at Retention Science visit our office frequently enough to be called honorary team members, and having them around constantly reminds me that they are so much more than sources of capital. When you can feel that way about your investors, you’ll know you’ve made the right partnership.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km


more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Startup , Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Acquisitions
Scoop.it!

Why co-founders are the secret to start-up success: DesignCrowd founder Alec Lynch

Why co-founders are the secret to start-up success: DesignCrowd founder Alec Lynch | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

DesignCrowd founder and chief executive Alec Lynch on the pros and cons of having co-founders, how many is ideal and where you find them.

So, you have a million-dollar business idea, but haven’t started working on it. You might be wondering: “do I need a co-founder?”

Most successful start-ups or tech businesses have multiple founders. Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Groupon, Uber, Square, Instagram, to name a few.

But does it make sense for you?

For some businesses, having co-founders occurs organically. You discuss a business idea with a friend or group of people and start working on it together.

However, in many cases, bringing on a co-founder (or co-founders) will be a conscious decision.

In this article, I will look at six questions that will help you determine if getting a co-founder is right for you and, if so, what to look for in a co-founder.

To read the full article, click on the title.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km



Via Ivan Berlocher
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Co-founders balance the startup team, either with a business background, or other knowledge or experience needed to guarantee the success of the startup. Going it alone is extremely hard.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Marc Kneepkens
Scoop.it!

10 Things I’ve Learned from Working at a Startup

10 Things I’ve Learned from Working at a Startup | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
We've all heard about how difficult, fun and challenging it can be to work at a startup. In fact, being a part of a small team who's trying to change the way things are is a great adventure that requires lots of engagement and passion.

My name is Fred, and I've been a member of a startup team for almost two years now. There are many things that I've learned here that couldn't have picked up elsewhere, not only in terms of professional experiences, but also about myself.

The first thing you need to know about working in a startup is that you need to be a passionate person. Not only because it requires hard work, but also because you'll quickly feel overwhelmed and you'll loose your foothold if you're not passionate about what you're doing.

To help understand what it means to be part of a startup, here are the top 10 things that I've learned from working at Azendoo.

To read the full article, click on the title or image.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

To address the comments under this article : all companies have been startups at some point. If you don't want to work hard, go just be an employee somewhere and dream of white beaches and long vacations and working from home the rest of your life.

more...
No comment yet.