I confess — I have the attention span and memory of a gold fish. I am also more ambitious and optimistic with how to allocate my time than reality permits.
Unfortunately, the combination of these personality quirks is not very conducive to the conventions followed by many of my peers in VC when it comes to meeting new startups.
So, what are said conventions?
The Startup Pitch
One key part of venture capital (and the one most glamourised in popular culture) is the startup pitch — where a founder (or founders) meet with a VC to pitch how the VC’s capital will allow the team to develop a product and/or solution that will change the world and make everyone filthy rich in the process.
Typically, this follows the format of a 20–30 minute meeting (60 minutes if the VC is feeling generous) where the founder presents some variation of:
- The ‘big problem’;
- The ‘opportunity’;
- How they’re capturing the ‘opportunity’;
- How they’re different from everyone else trying to capture it;
- Why they’re the best team to do it; and
- The ‘ask’.
If the founder is lucky, the VC might ask some questions through out this presentation. If the founder is unlucky, the VC might play with their phone, multitask, or fall asleep with their eyes open — this lattermost phenomenon is deceptively dangerous as the founder may think the VC totally understood the pitch, leaving the only logical next step to be writing a cheque to said founder, and then the rude awakening of misaligned expectations thereafter.
I realise that I don’t deal with this format very well, and I should have realised this earlier as I wasn’t very good at sitting through lectures in college either.
The general challenge with this convention is that it is very time consuming for both sides — how many disinterested VCs must a founder pitch before someone ‘gets them’? How much more cynical will VCs get if they keep sleeping through pitches?
One thing that I started to do, and found that it has worked well for me so far (and honestly, surprises some founders), is to ensure…