Tips for Entrepreneurs – How to get Silicon Valley VC meetings.

I recently worked with Angie Chang of Women 2.0 on a Huffington Post Blog; Angie Chang in Huffington Post: Serial Entrepreneur Carol Realini Shares Tips for Raising Venture Capital.  One entrepreneur posted “This leaves out the most critical thing that new entrepreneurs need – information on exactly how to get 10 meetings with VCs. Especially if your company is not located in Silicon Valley.

Very good point, but you also need to remember meetings are just part of fundraising. These VC meetings are critical but they need to be

  • successful meetings
  • lead to due diligence
  • lead to term sheets

So don’t ignore the 10 tips for fundraising advice. http://bit.ly/pr9skU

That being said, I agree a big challenge is to get the right meetings with the right potential investors. So let me try to demystify how to do that.

As you plan your fundraising, you need to give yourself time to get these meetings set up. You have work to do. Some of that work will require being in Silicon Valley. I read somewhere that a large percentage (like 80%) of all venture capital comes from VCs located in the San Francisco Bay Area. You want to be where the money is.

Here is how I would approach it –

  • Build a network of advisers and supporters that know Silicon Valley VCs and how to navigate the valley.
  • They will be helpful in many ways. There is a lot of activity that is a waste of time – take their cues on what is worthwhile and what is a waste of time.
  • The best local supporters know VCs and can make introductions.  They can also talk up your deal and create a buzz in the valley. So you not only need to connect with these supporters, you need to sell them on your business.
  • Entrepreneurs need to be evangelists – recruiting supporters, employees, customers, partners, to support their vision for their business. Get good at this. Also don’t oversell. Not everyone will love your idea especially in the early days before it is proven. So be prepared to get rejection – and don’t sweat it, learn from it and move on to find people that get excited about what you are doing.
  • To build your support network you will need to invest a lot of time in connecting and building relationships.  But don’t make supporting you a ton of work for your supporters. You figure out which VCs are the best targets, you make sure your business presentation is strong and gets better everyday. Make it easy for them to help you.
  • Look for groups or organizations that can help you build your network like  TIE and Women 2.0. Get connected and meet people. This is a open valley – it may seem intimidating but outsiders can break in.

Once you have a strong network of supporters, then you leverage them to make warm introductions to your VC targets. Don’t even think about making a cold call on a VC – it is a waste of time.

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About Carol Realini

Serial Entrepreneur, Mobile Payments and Banking Pioneer, Author, Board Member Carol Realini is a successful Silicon Valley executive and expert in financial service innovation. She has worked with leading financial institutions including MasterCard and Citi, as well as numerous multinational and regional banks, to change the way banking is conducted. In 2011, as a Technology Pioneer attending the World Economic Forum, she led discussions on alternative banking at their meeting in Davos. A serial entrepreneur, she has been recognized as one of the 50 Top Women in Technology by Corporate Board Member magazine. Carol is a huge believer in the potential of mobile banking and payments to create financial inclusion - where everyone with a mobile phone has access to affordable financial services that empower their life and work. To understand Carol's vision please watch the WEF video (click on the weforum.org link below). Carol also mentors entrepreneurs providing wisdom and lessons learned from her four successful startup experiences.
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One Response to Tips for Entrepreneurs – How to get Silicon Valley VC meetings.

  1. Shankar Chellani says:

    I read the blog and seems to be clued-up. Very nice article.

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