Here's all you need to know to have a high-quality first meeting with a VCSanjay Swamy
I meet new entrepreneurs every day. Unfortunately, most meetings are terrible — poorly structured, poorly managed, and often do disservice to the brilliance of the startup. Quite often, I find myself having to look for a diamond in the rough, when it really should be the entrepreneur who should be doing a great job articulating their labour of love.
Let’s start with the GOAL of the first meeting with a VC — this in itself is where things go wrong as often, expectations are incorrect.
The goal of the first meeting is simple — to do just about enough to get the second meeting quickly! So, what does one need to do to make the first meeting effective? Here are a few tips that will hopefully help entrepreneurs have an effective first meeting — even if it’s only 20–30 minutes long.
5.1 Start with questions — get to know your audience. Ask VCs why they are different from others. Ask VCs if they’re familiar with this space, and what they like and don’t like about it. Try and understand who is your friend in the room, and who is the one you need to convince.
5.2 Do basic things right.
5.3 Dive into your key topic — tell a logical story — show your excitement and passion for what you are doing, it’s contagious.
Very few VCs are concerned about FOMO, and unlike what people sometimes like to believe, very few VCs succumb to deal pressure or can be hustled into giving you better terms.
Sure, if you genuinely have a timeline you are working toward, let them know, but never try to bluff your way to a funding round or commercials — it rarely happens! The scars and reputation risks to you as a founder are far higher.
Cover all the key points:
● What is the problem that you’re solving?
● Who is the customer? The beneficiary?
● How big is the problem?
● Why are you the best suited to address this?
● Why are you passionate about addressing the problem?
● Why is your solution 10x better than the state-of-the-art?
● How will you distribute the solution?
● How you will monetise your solution?
● What is the stage you’re at?
● Who else is doing this or could do this?
● Why do you think you will win?
● What will it take to get to the next stage?
● What will it take to get to 10x from that point on?
This may sound like a LONG list, but it is all the important points to articulate in a short presentation and when you are clear in your flow, it can happen in under 10 minutes.
Remember that the goal of the first meeting is not to convince them to fund you then and there —
the goal of the first meeting with a VC firm is only for them to immediately send an email or WhatsApp message to their partners saying: “Just met this amazing entrepreneur and company doing XYZ — I’d like one of you to meet them soon, this could be hot!”
Many of these are common sense — but I’ve rarely met an entrepreneur who does this well — and as an entrepreneur-turned-VC, I hope these tips will be useful.
The fact of the matter is, you only get one chance to make a first impression — do it right!
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)