5 ways to get VCs to notice your startup
Imagine picking up the phone & it’s a VC on the other end of the line. The VC is fascinated by your product, impressed by the clarity of your vision & eager to learn more from the team. Their pen is hovering above the dotted line (well, maybe that is going a bit far).
Just a dream? Well, this scenario isn’t as uncommon as it sounds. After all, the tech scene in Southeast Asia & India is moving so fast that VCs have to be constantly on the hunt for the next unicorn. If they believe in a business they will pounce. They will make the first move. But luck doesn’t play much of a role in this. Getting noticed is hard graft. It means tearing yourself away from the million & one other things you have to do. You have to invest some time & creativity in standing apart from the rest. Here are a few ideas.
MAKE SOME NOISE
It won’t have escaped your notice that you are not the only start-up in town. There is always online chatter about the ‘next big thing’. A trend about to transform the market. A business about redefining the category. A founder everyone wants to speak to.
That needs to be your trend, your business…& that founder has to be you.
You want everyone to see that ‘things are happening’. Usage is up, the team is growing, key hires are on board. These are all good news stories that bring VCs knocking. But where to be?
It is critical that you get your voice heard on platforms like Quora & Reddit. Write thought leadership pieces, post them on Medium & become a voice of authority people go to for information & insight. Finally, don’t be afraid to engage with the investor & VC community on platforms like Twitter. Create your own buzz!
STRUT YOUR STUFF ON LINKEDIN
It has been around a long time but LinkedIn is still the happening hangout for the VC world. VCs hunt around every day to see if the next unicorn is about to break out.
But what are they looking for? In short, confidence. They want to see a business with its tail up. Signals would be senior tech leaders leaving to join a start-up, employee headcount growth, or any signs of serious product investment. Make sure you have a company page & that every one of your employees is linked to it. But simply being present isn’t enough — you have to put the effort in. Make sure your page looks professionally branded & has a crystal clear ‘About Us’ that is not only easy to understand but also instantly intriguing.
According to LinkedIn data, companies that post regularly get twice as much traffic so make sure you are using the page as a showcase for both your thought leadership & any important company updates — for example impending hires, market expansion strategies, or new partnerships. Finally, it is always worth staying on top of tweaks to the LinkedIn algorithm so that you can optimize the nature of the content you post.
REMEMBER, THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME(PAGE)
The fact that investors browse the website of start-ups they are interested in shouldn’t come as a surprise, but VCs are sneakier than you might think. It is not unusual, a few months in advance of a fundraise, for them to buy analytics software that allows them to really get a good look under the hood.
So…it’s fair to say your website is critical real estate. It is your single best opportunity to describe to VCs what you do, the basics of your business model (SaaS? Marketplace?), the team make-up & the territories you operate in. It also offers another way to demonstrate momentum by increasing web traffic so keep updating the content, check the site delivers against key web standards & ensure it is always SEO friendly.
But remember, your website is not only where you communicate the What & the How of your business — but also the Why. It is a platform for expressing your personality & your passion. Its style, tone of voice & navigability all say something important about you & your business. VCs buy people & visions not only models & projections & there is no better place than your website to ‘Sell You’.
BE PRESENT & CORRECT WHERE IT MATTERS
This is a simple one. Make sure your company details are up to date on sites like Crunchbase & Pitchbook. These are the go-to for VCs as they look to gather the data & financing information on start-ups they are interested in. Quick tip — If you have influential investors, make sure they are properly tagged.
MAKE SOME NEW FRIENDS
Warm Referrals are a beautiful thing. They are when someone who trusts you & is excited by your business, also has the trust of the VC — & is willing to make the introduction. Get a warm referral & you are already well on your way.
But, these are early days for your business & you might not have a huge network. You are going to have to work hard for these referrals so it is time to get out & about. Happily, there are a number of good places to start. Social groups, co-working spaces & start-up events are a melting pot of the start-up scene. You’ll find all sorts of interesting people who love to listen to business ideas, who are highly networked & who might just be your short-cut to a meeting with an eager VC. Accelerators are also a great option. They offer a more structured process that allows you to surround yourself with potential mentors & sharpen your pitch before any introduction to a VC.
So, it is not going to happen by accident but, if you work hard enough at it you might get lucky & find a VC knocking at your door. A final word of advice? Make sure you are always ready! The last thing you want is to waste these golden opportunities. Work with your mentors to craft a pitch deck that is at the same time concise, compelling & comprehensive so that you have it on hand to wow one VC after another.
Good luck & get going!