Getting Your Foot in the Door at Venture Capital Firms

Venture capital firms are inundated with inquiries and business plans, and they are very selective about which companies they take meetings with.

The best way to gain access to a venture capital firm is through a contact or referral. Start with people you have professional relationships with — for instance, your lawyer, accountant, or fellow entrepreneurs. The odds are much higher that a venture capitalist will take a serious look at your business plan if it is referred by someone connected to the firm. Plans that come in without referrals often get no more attention than a cursory review.

If you do not have any connections that you can take advantage of, you can consider using a “shotgun” approach in which you send your executive summary to as many investors as possible and hope that you get someone interested. Because venture firms receive a huge number of solicitations, however, your chances of success using this method are slim.

You can also try a “rifle” approach to getting your idea in front of a venture capital firm. Here, you target specific firms that you believe are a good match for your company — many firms focus their investment efforts on specific industries, stages of development, geographic locations, and investment amount.

If you do not hear from any of the firms that you have solicited, try attending venture capital or private equity conferences. An investor may not be interested in your company, but he or she may know someone who is. Take advantage of networking breaks to chat with potential investors.

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Rodi Guidero General Counsel VantagePoint Venture Partners

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