The purpose of this post is two-fold. One, to provide an update on the upcoming StartupLounge.com Capital Connections event, and two, to provide some quick tips for entrepreneurs to get the most out of the event.
Currently, we have over 60 companies and over 20 investors signed up to attend. We’ll probably hit around 80 to 90 companies and 30 investors before all is said and done (space is limited for this first event – it is already getting close to standing room only). What is also equally as impressive (to me at least) is the sheer diversity of ventures that will be in attendance. There are companies from at least a dozen different industry sectors, including information technology, IT security, social media, new media, outdoor media, cleantech, biotech, nanotech, pharma, and even athletic apparel!
We’re going to be doing our first ever podcast from a live event as well, so have your pitch ready! :)
So if you are an early-stage entrepreneur that doesn’t have much experience with investor networking, Mike and I would like to serve up a few tips that will hopefully help you get the most out of the experience. Feel free to add your own as a comment!
- Bring demos/laptops! If you have a demo of your product that can be shown on a laptop – bring it! We’ll have a few tables on hand. If you get into a hot discussion with a potential investor, hop to the back of the room and fire up your laptop. Show and tell, baby!
- Perfect a concise pitch! You want your pitch to deliver value in one or two sentences. I like the old format of: “We are Company Name, and we solve this problem, for these customers, by doing X.” Example: Acme Corporation is a maker of “magic paint” for homeowners who are tired of having to paint their house every few years.
- Don’t hog an investor’s time! Toss out your pitch, listen to their questions, and answer them equally as concisely. Nothing turns an investor off more than an entrepreneur who drones on and on about how great they are. I’m guilty of this, too – most entrepreneurs are! So you have to check yourself. Get their card, thank them for their time, and let them know you’ll be in touch with your business plan, etc. Then free up their time for someone else (and your time to move on to another potential investor.)
- Likewise, don’t let an investor hog your time! Do you really want to talk to the same investor for two hours? Probably not. Raising capital is a numbers game, so hit and run!
- Ask investors what they are investing in (a novel idea, I know.) Seriously, it helps to set expectations. If you are a technology company and the investor in question is only looking for a nanotech deal, probably not worth camping out there (for either of you.)
- If an investor doesn’t invest specifically in the kind of opportunity that you have, ask for a referral to someone he or she may know that actually might be interested – networking 101!
- Don’t overlook the the value of making connections with your fellow entrepreneurs – they are gatekeepers to capital, customers, and other resources, and are often investors themselves!
- Dress in a manner that will make an investor comfortable in giving you lots of money. Should you wear a suit? Up to you … but definitely don’t go any lower than business casual.
- Help others! If you meet an investor that can’t help you, but may be able to help a friend of yours, walk the twelve feet and make the introduction.
- There will be a handful of observers in the room. You’ll be able to identify them by their red name tags. They aren’t necessarily entrepreneurs or investors, but are industry luminaries, community figures, media members, and special invited guests. Do yourself a favor and take a moment to introduce yourself to them. You’ll thank us for it later.
This first event will be held on Wednesday, May 16th, from 6-8pm, so mark your calendars. You can read more about the event here.