“…the best fundraisers in our portfolio have a few “soft skills” characteristics in common.”
While much of startup investing is moving online, the majority of startups still need to pitch investors face to face. And while best practices of pitching VCs (ie advice like how to build a good pitch deck) are well covered, there’s a “soft skills” ingredient that is not discussed as often.
With that said, among their many talents, the best fundraisers in our portfolio have a few “soft skills” characteristics in common:
That’s a great question!
There is an old saying:
“Those who seek advice get an investment, and those who seek an investment get advice.”
The best entrepreneurs are generally those who collect a variety of inputs when making a decision and come to a conclusion of their own. Furthermore, VCs usually want to have some input into the companies they invest millions of dollars into, and want to work with Founders that value their opinion.
I’m not saying you should say “that’s a great question” or should change your plans in response to any random investor comments. But by writing down the valuable inputs in meetings and taking them seriously, you are demonstrating that you plan to work in a collaborative manner.
Volunteering in formation
While it’s important to be upbeat and enthusiastic about your opportunity, VCs have heard enough sugar coated pitches to the point that they assume anything worth knowing is not included in your pitch.
One way to reverse this dynamic is to volunteer insightful information about the competition or any other key challenges ahead. All startups have their challenges, but what’s important is how you handle them and that you do so in a communicative manner.
While new opportunities are always exciting, investors actually spend most of their time working with existing portfolio companies on their challenges, and often times may view you through this lens. To turn this to your favor, consider how investing in you may lead to portfolio cross-pollination.
For example, perhaps the distribution channels you have connections with can be used by others, or perhaps your technology can be leveraged to improve the product of another portfolio company. If you can re-position yourself from a stand alone opportunity to one that has a multiplier effect across the VC’s portfolio, this reframes the lens to your benefit.
The bottom line
In meetings with VCs, you are pitching your startup, but are also pitching yourself as a potential long-term partner. From the VC point of view, a Founder who values their input in their decision making, who openly communicates with them, and who can help their existing portfolio companies is someone they are more likely to want to invest in.