By Matthew Stafford, www.pembridge.net
Every day there are some inspiring and envy-inducing stories of great start-ups closing their VC investment round. The entrepreneurs and VCs work really hard to make those deals happen, they don't happen overnight and not by accident either. Sadly other entrepreneurs aren't as hard working and increasingly seem to becoming rather lazy or too expectant when it comes to fund raising. Some (especially new) entrepreneurs seem to think that getting a meeting with a VC is a measure of success.
Yes, VCs in the UK used to be closed networks but thanks to the influence of Silicon Valley the VCs in the UK have open office days, they are very accessible on Twitter and LinkedIn and most would never turn down a coffee and a chat. The worrying trend is that an entrepreneur has their MVP, gets their meeting with the VC, runs through the slide deck and has a nice chat for half an hour - the VC even says, 'maybe'! The entrepreneur leaves feeling good. Then; nothing. The proposition wasn't good enough so the entrepreneur doesn't get the next meeting, let alone investment (VCs never say 'no'; but they say 'maybe' a lot - go figure). The lazy entrepreneur concludes that London is a terrible place to fund raise, no one is investing and they'd be better off in Silicon Valley where the VCs couldn't fail to see the power and monetisation potential of their product and would be fighting over themselves to invest. Not true.
Investment in London is happening every day. How does over £12.5m for 27 companies since July 2010 sound? That's what gateway2investment have helped get to London's entrepreneurs. Fund raising is indeed tough; it's pretty much a full-time job for the CEO and executive team. Getting a meeting with a VC is the easy part - and we're not here to help you do that - you can pick up the phone and introduce yourself. What we, at gateway2investment, do is make you more investable. So don't be lazy, do you want investment or not?
How 'not to be lazy'. Five top tips:
1.Be punctual - if you can't be bothered to turn up on time why should an investor give you their time let alone their fund's money
2.Check, check, check and check again your spelling and grammar
3.Know your numbers - you shouldn't have to look up your key financials such as P&L and revenue
4.Treat fund raising as a 'campaign' - iteration, rhythm and buzz
5.The defining characteristic of the best entrepreneur is that he or she bounces back - so work hard and work smart and when things don't go well, bounce back better
Show you are serious by getting the basics right. And if you haven't done this before, that's OK - just get some help from people who have - www.g2i.org