The question every entrepreneur wants to know: what attracts a V.C.’s attention – and eventual funding – to your company? At the 2017 Propelify Innovation Festival David Sorin of McCarter & English moderated a panel between Paul Martino, General Partner at Bull Pen Capital, and Gus Warren, Managing Director at Samsung NEXT Ventures, about how founders can attract V.C. attention and raise funding. Here are three unexpected qualities V.C.s are looking for:
Are You In For The Long Haul?
Entrepreneurship is cool right now. And V.C.s can spot “tourist CEOs” from a mile away. So, how can they pinpoint the true deal entrepreneurs?
“I like to ask people, ‘what did you want to be when you were ten? This lets me know if entrepreneurship is really in their blood. A lot of people get into the game because it’s cool. But that enduring passion means more,” Gus said.
Paul agreed. “Entrepreneurship done right is almost a sickness. Your life is not right unless you’re doing the next start-up. That’s the passion you need.”
A true, long-lasting passion for not just your company, but for entrepreneurship in general, speaks spades about your drive to become successful.
Do You Really Have The Desire?
Entrepreneurship is hard. Like, really, really hard. And no one knows this more than experienced V.C.s. So, before they invest in your company, a V.C. wants to make sure you’re really ready and craving the soaring highs, morale-crushing lows, and daily grinding of entrepreneurship.
Paul likened entrepreneurship to a nightmare:
“Being the CEO of a start-up is like being in a nightmare where you get to sleep one more minute every night. And that’s how it is: you want to change the world, but there is no road map, and it is a nightmare. And if you’re not ready to embrace a lifestyle that’s chaotic and difficult, this is a very hard road to go down.”
Continual demonstrations of passion, perseverance, and grit will help woo V.C.s to your business.
Partnership or Check?
Although V.C. partnerships are rarely solely strategic or solely financial these days (“You can’t have a strategic success and a financial failure,” as Gus said), there are a variety of factors that play into what businesses and founders V.C.s give their time, attention, and ultimately funding too. Overall compatibility plays a role, as does compatibility with the parameters of the actual partnership.
“If you don’t think you can stuck on a desert island with these people, don’t do it,” Gus said. “A partnership is like a marriage, because you could be stuck with these people for a long time.”
Aside from personal compatibility, an understanding about the natures of your partnership matters to V.C.s as well. To put it more bluntly:
“Are you actually looking for a mentor? Or do you just want a check?” Paul said.
Depending on who you’re speaking to, the answer to that question could make or break your V.C. relationship.
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