There can not be a discussion on business financing without talking about venture capital or angel investing. These forms of business financing are widely known but hardly achieved. It is very difficult to get but still possible according to VCs Change Their Tune, an article written earlier this month by the Wall Street Journal. American Express’ Open Forum released a great article on the state of venture capital today. The strongest advice from the article was:
- know where funding is hot and where it is not
- know your audience (venture capital firms that you are pitching to)
- make sure your pitch is on point (practice, practice, practice)
To understand what industries or ideas are getting funded, you must stay in the know. A few resources that can help you do that include:
- National Venture Capital Association: Trade organization for venture capitalists. Provides a ton of information regarding the industry and everything involved.
- New York Times – DealBook: Provides current stories on venture capital deals and other large investments taking place on the national stage. This active blog not only provides great stories, but also provides tools for you to remain in the know using any forum you need.
- Twitter: A search on venture capital provides a host of conversations about this funding source. You can create a list of those you deem as experts or follow the list of someone you trust.
- Venture Capital at Alltop.com – Summarized list of venture capital blogging resources across the internet
Once you have an idea of the industries that are being funded (and those that are not being funded), you should find information on exactly which VCs are actually funding. You can get that information from the resources given above as well as the following:
- The Funded: Review site of venture capital firms and their partners. Reviews and ratings are provided by entrepreneurs as well as a forum to discuss issues and the site.
- FundingPost: Venture exchange that connects entrepreneurs to angel investors and venture capitalists. Claims responsiblity for funding over $106.4 billion.
- Venture Capital Conferences: Many conferences take place across the country that allows entrepreneurs to present to active VCs and vie for funding. Several top business schools host them throughout the year. Most conferences are regional or local, include specific industries, and occur in the late winter/early spring. A few include:
Finally, make sure your presentation is strong, and you are clear and confident about your business. The best way to do that is by presenting in as many venture capital conferences as possible, especially the ones that take place at business schools like the VCIC at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School (disclosure: I am a KFBS alum). Not only would you get a ton of feedback, you may also actually get some funding! Some other ways and resources for tightening your presentation are:
- Review VC industry resources such as National Association of Seed and Venture Funding and FundingPost. Both provide excellent presentations from venture capitalists that are helpful for entrepreneurs looking for funding
- Check with Venture Capitalists. Ask them what they want to hear or see if they have resources on their websites like this one by Garage Technology Ventures.
- Research different perspectives with tips on pitching to investors. This article on Perfecting The Pitch provides a great summary of what entrepreneurs should do from the perspective of various VCs. How to Raise Venture Capital provides the perspective of an entrepreneur who has pursued venture capital funding.
What are some techniques or tips that you have for acquiring VC or angel funding? Let us know in the comments.