We all know venture capitalists are incredibly busy. More than 400 new business plans arrive at some VC firms every week, and not all of them are read. As a matter of fact, it’s rare for an unsolicited business plan to be read.
You’ll need to do something to grab the attention of venture capitalists and make them want to listen to you. You need WMA – Weapons of Mandatory Attention. These are an array of communication tools that are designed to grab the attention of any venture capitalist at any time, in any place.
Most venture capitalists will respond to four things:
1. A management team that excels at what it does.
If your team rocks, spread the word any way you can. Flaunt their abilities and credentials everywhere – in your teaser email, in the elevator, in your business plan, at industry events and at cocktail parties. Venture capitalists are known for betting on the management team rather than the company or its concept.
Venture capitalists love strong management teams, and many times they’re indifferent about your operational plans until you’ve progressed further in the vetting process. You’re halfway home (getting funding) if your management team works well together, is known for its expertise, and has already been successful in your sector.
2. A high-concept pitch they react to by saying “Duh, that’s a winner!”
A high-concept pitch combines a familiar, successful idea with a riveting new twist in only one or two sentences. It quickly conveys that your idea can work, even though you have a different way of accomplishing it that shows your company has a market all to itself. Speaking at a normal pace, it should take no more than seven seconds to make your high-concept pitch. It needs to be succinct, so make it that way and then hear the venture capitalists say “Duh, that’s a winner!”
3. A glowing introduction by one of the venture capitalist’s trusted associates.
A glowing introduction is an invaluable, tried-and-true tactic, because it’s a direct referral and implies a recommendation. If someone the venture capitalist trusts recommends spending some time listening to you, life is good. Always follow up on these types of referrals and take advantage of the time you have with a venture capitalist. Always be ready with your business card and your high-concept or elevator pitch.
4. An elevator pitch that’s a mini-business plan.
In 60 seconds or less, sum up your business and use this as your elevator pitch. Describe what your business does, how it does it, how big its market is, how fast the market is growing, and how you’re going about carving out your own share of the market. Your elevator pitch is your business plan in a nutshell. Use it whenever you have the opportunity.