Need to raise a smaller VC round, say 1-2M, see this list

Posted by: on May 7, 2009 | No Comments

I asked a friend Bill Romans to recommend to me smaller VC funds that like to offer smaller amounts of funding and are happy to work with $1-2M and variations around that level.

These guys are VCs but tend to be more boutique or smaller funds that prefer a smaller round to the bigger names.

These are ideal folks to work with if you are above the Angel threshold in terms of valuation, the amount you need or the need to syndicate a smaller round.

Here’s the list and a good place to start your search:

  • ATA Ventures
  • Blue Run Ventures
  • Catamount Ventures
  • Pacifica Fund
  • Quicksilver Ventures
  • Sippl Macdonald Ventures
  • Startup Capital Ventures
  • Windspeed Ventures
  • Altos Ventures
  • American River Ventures
  • Clearstone
  • Globespan
  • Onset
  • Venio Capital Partners
  • Woodside Fund
  • Intel Capital
  • Maples Investments
  • Gabriel Venture Partners
  • Artiman
  • Incubic
  • Rembrandt
  • True Ventures
  • Horizon Ventures
  • Novus Ventures

It’s probably worth checking out the latest news on the guys at their sites and at the funded (www.thefunded.com) to ensure there is a fit for your business idea and stage.

I would also check the state of their fund and if they are currently looking at new deals.

Great advice on pitching VCs…common mistakes and how to avoid them

Posted by: on Apr 20, 2009 | No Comments

Tim Ferriss has had the foresight to ask some of the presenters at this years TiE conference (TiE’s annual conference on entrepreneurship, TiECON 2009 May 15/16) some very useful questions:

  • What is the best pitch meeting that you remember and why?
  • What are the most common mistakes or assumptions smart founders make in pitch meetings with VCs?
  • What unfavorable terms do founders often miss or underestimate in term sheets?
  • How can someone get you to look at a business plan if they don’t know anyone in your network (e.g. outside Silicon Valley elite, didn’t go to Stanford)?

Here are a few clips from the article from 4 VCs:

What is the best pitch meeting that you remember and why?

1. The best pitch meetings are those that have real technology breakthroughs applied to solving large and growing problems.

2. After the first introductory slide Jasvir Gill, the CEO and founder jumped straight to a demo…

3. For early stage companies (where you are not pitching demonstrated revenue growth), good pitches rely on either a compelling entrepreneur or a compelling idea. Great pitches rely on both.

4. The pitch meeting was the best because the service concept made intuitive sense, the service was validated by a major customer win, the market was large with proof points of successful outcomes…

This feedback illustrates some very important distinctions for me, mostly that you will see some similarities and many differences to the same question!

In other words you need to have all of these types of requirements/questions/expectations covered and need to be very flexible in your approach.

A cookie-cutter pitch will not work. Also, with advice like this you can make sure that you approach each investor/VC better prepared and we all know about the 5 P’s don’t we..!?

More here:

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/04/20/is-venture-capitalism-dead-not-yet-advice-from-kleiner-perkins-hummer-winblad-shasta-ventures-and-clearstone-venture-partners/

Check your business plan measures up to "business school" standard before you send it out to investors

Posted by: on Dec 16, 2008 | One Comment

As you may know I work extensively with 3 of the World’s Top 10 business schools and I regularly have to help MBA’s work on their business plans. In working with them I help them shape their plans and eventually I often have to rate and mark them as part of their course grade!

In order to help them ensure that their plans can withstand the "beating" it will get under examination from investors, and mainly VC’s, I came up with a simple and informal way to check out a plan.

Here it is, compare your plan to these tests and see how you think it measures up…

Hopefully by testing rigorously you will expose any weaknesses before you send it out and can make your plan as strong as it can be. This is critical as you will get only one chance to impress a VC and get through the incredibly tough business plan review process – don’t waste any hard earned opportunity with a plan that’s not as good as you can make it!


Feedback Scale for a business plan

   Readability – Does the idea come across clearly and easily? Is the language and communication method used effective? Is there a logical flow and does the plan have me “nodding” in agreement and understanding as I read through. Are the spelling and grammar right? Are all the required topics included in the plan in sufficient detail and the right places? Is there a “story” I get excited about or that holds the reader throughout the plan?

   Lucidity – Is the idea and the business compelling and obvious. Do it get “it” in the first few minutes of reading and do I want to read more to understand the full details. Can I feel the pain, see the business solution and get that it’s an “Advil” solution that is required by the target market now. Has the idea been illustrated clearly in terms that allow me to “feel” it and experience it in a way that’s meaningful to me? I am thinking yes I can see how that would work in my own experience.

   Believability – Are the plan, the numbers, the people and the idea credible. Does everything stack up or am I questioning assumptions, issues and the concept. Are there any obvious “dumb” issues that turn me off right away or obvious holes in the plan that should have been highlighted and covered off? Are there the classic faux pas and lazy assumptions/statements or is everything nicely backed up with fact based arguments.

   Fundability – Is the idea and the market big enough to attract the investors I am seeking. If this is VC is the IRR correct and is the idea big enough for my fund. Ideally the TAM is $1Bn range and the revenue expected at year 5-7 $100M+ minimum. Is there scope in the plan for changing the business in order to succeed? Are their multiple revenue opportunities or extensions to the core market? Is this team the team that can pull off this idea?

Finding the right VC investor…now is more important than ever!

Posted by: on Nov 29, 2008 | No Comments

Below is the presentation given during by Adeo Ressi at Web 2.0 in New York. The talk focuses on helping companies find the “right” investor, versus just any interested party.

It’s a very useful deck and from a very thoughtful guy that has been around this game a few times.

More VC training on pitching and presenting

Posted by: on Nov 17, 2008 | No Comments

In my other blog posts on this matter I have said a few times that really what you are trying to do once you have got in the door is to have a sensible, logical and easy to understand dialog that hits the right buttons – just like any sales process.

Each stage of a VC engagement needs to be organized to achieve it’s outcome. no more. The first presentation is meant to get attention and get the next meeting. The second meeting is to get further agreement and greater buy-in by the VC partners. And further meetings will then lead to a term sheet and relevant due diligence.

Pitching Tips: presentation tips from The Pitching Coach

And of course in a similar vein, we have Guy Kawasaki

Finally, I thought this was a good summary of content to cover

I found these at a great site called slideshare, take a look here for more:

http://www.slideshare.net/tag/pitching / http://www.slideshare.net/tag/vc

I have also spotted a few good resources on other sites that can add to what I have already posted, take a look at the links below from Furqan Nazeeri a serial entrepreneur and former Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Softbank Capital:

This site also have some other useful tips:

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