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January 10, 2013

How to Make Every Meeting with Venture Capitalists a Success

If you are unprepared, walking into a meeting with venture capitalists can be nerve-racking. Learning about the pitching and investing process is the best way to feel more confident about your presentation. While entrepreneurs do learn a lot from personal experience, that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful if you are just starting out. Ultimately, the pitch is all about making the right first impression. Use your meeting as an opportunity to show the business world who you are and what you can do with a little financial help.

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Venture capitalists meet with a lot of people, so they don’t have a lot of time to draw information out of hopeful small business owners and new entrepreneurs. That’s exactly why your pitch needs to be short but memorable. Remember that you can never change a first impression, so make yours a good one every single time you meet with or contact investors. Even if you think that there is no chance that your meeting will result in funding, do your best. Venture capitalists have a lot of connections in the investment industry. If your idea is not right for some investors, it doesn’t mean that they won’t recommend you to other investors who might be looking for the type of opportunity you are offering.

Because you won’t have a lot of time to present your ideas slowly, get organized before you start meeting with venture capitalists. Know exactly how your presentation will be structured, and practice it at home. Make sure that you leave some room for questions because there will undoubtedly be some, especially if investors are interested in your ideas. Being prepared will not only give a great first impression, but it will also make you feel more confident. If you know exactly how your presentation is going to go and you’ve gone over it at home, you’ll look professional, knowledgeable and self-assured.

Keep an open mind throughout your presentation. Like all investors, venture capitalists prefer to work with entrepreneurs who are willing to make changes. Since they’ll be investing a lot of capital into your business, they expect to have some say in how it’s used. You should also be prepared to answer difficult questions. One of the most common questions investors ask is how your plan can be developed into a big and highly profitable business. Venture capitalists are interested in opportunities that can bring in high returns, so you need to show that your start-up has that potential.

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Don’t get discouraged if you don’t make any progress after the first few meetings. Venture capitalists are very selective, so even if you have a great presentation it doesn’t mean that they’ll invest in your project. Getting funding is challenging, and it can take a long time. Be patient, and in the meantime work on forming professional connections. Take every meeting with investors as an opportunity to learn and improve your skills. At the end of each meeting, ask for feedback. Listening to what investors thought about your presentation can help you figure out what’s working and what needs to be changed.



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