Last week I was participating at an event called MoneyTalks in Helsinki which I found to be quite useful. Extremely well organized by Will Cardwell and his team at Technopolis with a great turnout of both Finnish startups and investors.
The keynote speaker was Petteri Koponen (founder of FirstHop and Jaiku and now working for Google and recently joining the board of Aito Technologies), who delivered a great presentation on the startup life-cycle. There were many hard-earned experiences shared but two things in particular got me thinking about my previous post on contacting VCs.
Basically Petteri meant that getting VC-funding is a numbers game so you better meet as many as possible. Also, the way to develop your pitch is to pitch, learn, pitch, learn, pitch, learn, pitch…
I think this is great advice but I also realize that it somewhat contradicts my advice on only contacting the right VCs so I wanted to nuance my advice based on Petteri’s input.
First of all, I still think that spending time learning about the VC is very important. Identifying the right person at the VC firm and make sure you’re addressing their investment focus is going to be critical. And avoiding VCs that are not likely to invest in your company will save you lots of time and frustration. But since VCs do have different opinions and preferences, it still make sense to try and meet quite a number of them as long as their focus reasonably well matches your startup. This is maybe even more the case in Silicon Valley where there are many more relevant VCs for startups.
The second is definitely extremely important. The only way to get better is by practicing and by learning from previous experiences. So don’t give your pitch for the first time to a VC, there are plenty of people on which you can practice your pitch on beforehand. Don’t visit your preferred VC at first, pick some other to practice on. And as no pitch is perfect from the beginning, make sure to update the pitch based on feedback and questions from the VCs.