Turning the head of a VC can make or break a startup.
Having an inconsistent brand story, a lack of understanding about your market, or fluffing your figures can all see you trip up before you’ve even made it out of the first blocks.
So what can you do to put the odds in your favour prior to the Big Pitch?
We asked our brilliant partners over at RLC Ventures for some tips on your behalf. RLC specialise in backing founding teams at the very earliest stages of their journey and they’ve seen it all. Take on their pearls of wisdom and you’ll ace it.
Over to you RLC!
Top tips to engage VCs
Reece Chowdhry, Founding Partner
One of the main things I really look for in a founder is a demonstration of 'lateral thinking' early on. Ultimately founders see the world differently and solve hard problems in unique ways, but it also means they can be scrappy and resourceful. A great way that this trait manifests is when discussing how founders have won clients from competitors. Get creative!
Big problems lived by the founder
I get most excited when I meet a founder who is solving a problem that they have experienced first-hand and often. Commonly referred to as domain expertise, this time spent in an industry or market provides unfair insight and advantages. This is great in-built defensibility.
Oliver Kicks, Associate:
Build before raising
I love to see founders go out and build something long before thinking about investment. No matter how small the traction may be, proving their proposition before raising money is a great way to impress investors.
Consistency in story
Sticking to your story and delivering it with conviction is key. You’d be surprised how many people go out to investors with one pitch, round size or narrative, and then show up a month later with a completely different story. This can be a red flag for investors, as it can be perceived as though you don’t understand your market/the fundraising process.
Don’t be afraid to be upfront about these things if circumstances do change, but don’t try to hide the truth or take onboard suggestions from investors (in your first meeting at least).
Jeff Chowdhry, General Partner:
For me, I want to be sure that this business is offering a brand new solution to a long term issue. I'm not interested in 'copy-cat' business models, and want to see genuine originality in approach.
At RLC, we use personality profiles to help with speed of decision-making. When looking at the personality profiles of a company’s co-founders, we want to see very different but complementary profiles - as well as evidence of the team having worked together for several years prior.
Ariel Rahamim, Senior Analyst:
At the stage we’re investing in, the founding team’s understanding of the market they operate in and what challenges their business will face is key. The terminology used in VC is “founder-market fit”, and when it's the case that founders have a unique experience or insight into a market/problem very few know about... that is exciting.
Backing startups at the early stage means we typically don’t rely on metrics as a core base of our decision-making. In the absence of metrics, we spend a lot of time focusing on the founding team and their ability to move the needle (i.e. sign clients, make hires, develop product) in the absence of resource.