Did you just cold call Bill Gurley from Benchmark? Shame on you. NEVER cold call a VC. That is so 1999. It is 2012 – have you heard of Google?
Raising venture capital seems like a black box to most entrepreneurs, but it is actually pretty easy once you understand the rules. First, never cold call a VC – that is the first rule. Get an introduction (more on that in a minute). Second, only call VCs that invest in similar companies. Don’t bother calling a bio-tech VC with your mobile app unless it can cure cancer. Visit their website. Check out the sort of deals each firm does. Then visit the profiles of each partner at the firm. Each partner has a bias and a particular focus. Find the right partner for you and your business. Once you have found the right partner start reading his blog, his Facebook page and his twitter feed. Get to know him. It will take a day or two – but it is vital to understand your prey before stalking him. Lets pretend Bill is our prey, visit the following before reading further:
You might be surprised to learn Bill is a Longhorn. Yes, he went to the University of Texas for his MBA. He is also a geek – an engineer with Compaq. Oh, and he is a Zac Brown fan – that is key info. Now you know Bill a little better lets take him down!
Lets assume you don’t know anyone who knows Bill. Remember, don’t cold call him – huge mistake. But all hope is not lost. We can still get an intro. Bill is an investor in:
Dog Vacay – CEO: Mike Jones
Ubiguiti Networks – CEO: Robert J. Pera
Uber – CEO: Travis Kalanick
Grubhub – CEO: Matt Maloney
(BTW – there a bunch more)
Now lets call all of them. Let them know you are considering taking an investment from Benchmark and Bill Gurley. At least one of them will call you back. Ask them what it has been like working with Bill. Ask them if they would do another deal with Bill. You might be surprised what you hear. Eventually you will run into a CEO who is not a big fan – listen to them. But at the end of the day if you hear more good than bad it might be time to set the hook. Call Bill and let him know you talked to [insert name of CEO], that he had great things to say about him and that you wanted to talk to him about investing in the next Uber (or whatever).
100% of the time you are going to get a return call. It has NEVER failed for me, ever – if it does, call me and I will get you the meeting myself. Of course, once you get him on the phone it is your job to get the meeting. I’ll save that advice for my next post, “How to get the meeting.” Good Luck!