If you’re like many entrepreneurs (including me) you’re about to start visiting VCs in an effort to raise capital before the holidays. Danielle Morrill tweeted 51 tips for you and I couldn’t help but respond to each one last night. Following the thread on twitter is almost impossible so I’m reposting the tips and my responses here:
Danielle: 1) Fundraising this fall? I have some unconventional tips for you to make your experience awesome.
Me: my unconventional responses to ‘fall fundraising’ to follow…
Danielle: 2) when visiting
@a16z show up early not just to lower your stress but to peruse the awesome lobby book collection!
Me: regardless of your arrival time, your software better ‘eat the world’ if you plan to visit
@a16z. Just sayin.
Danielle: 3) Sequoia is surprisingly difficult to find (perhaps an intelligence test?) so plan for extra time to get a parking spot.
Me: when visiting
@sequoia take the car from the @RosewoodHotels across the street. They know where to drop you off.
Danielle: 4) have some downtime between meetings? The parking lot of DFJ/CRV has huge beautiful trees you can sit under, far from the buildings.
Me: I’d suggest working on your deck between meetings, it will get better if you listen to the feedback you get from VCs.
Danielle: 5) avoid the Sharon Heights Starbucks.
Me: I’d recommend the Santa Cruz Avenue
@Starbucks in Menlo Park instead.
Danielle: 6) first time on Sand Hill road? check out some of the inspiring stuff nearby like Stanford campus and Computer History Museum.
Me: don’t worry about sightseeing on your first trip to San Hill Road, you’re going to be really busy pitching.
Danielle: 7) if you want a signed term sheet by the end of October start requesting meetings now.
Me: if you want a signed term sheet before the holidays you better start setting meetings the day after labor day.
Danielle: 8) Khosla you have to park in the garage underneath, it’s a tricky U-turn so plan a little extra time.
Me: if you’re driving your own car or renting one, you’re making a mistake. Take
@uber to see @vkhosla. Isn’t he an investor?
Danielle: 9) also Khosla has the most incredible garden outside the window with plants so big it’s like Alice in Wonderland.
Me: I’d suggest checking out
@vkhosla‘s tombstones instead, they’re far more impressive than his plants.
Danielle: 10) many VCs are in the same office park, can lead to awkward moments so just embrace it.
Me: and THANK GOD that so many VCs are willing to pay the highest rents in the Bay Area so we can save money on
Danielle: 11) Accel is in downtown Palo Alto, so plan time before or after to get some macaroons on University Ave (in the downtime between meetings).
@Accel hates me for some reason, so take that into account when trying to find their office downtown.
Danielle: 12) if they ask you to meet at The Battery you are the entertainment. Don’t do it.
Me: now if they ask you to meet them at the Cuckoo’s Nest Club instead, you should go: http://cuckoosnestclub.com/
Danielle: 13) early morning breakfasts at obscure spots are the real getting-to-know-you signal.
Me: or the early morning breakfast means they don’t want their partners to know they’re entertaining your hair-brained scheme.
Danielle: 14) unless you are the second coming of Zuck, pitch deck is absolutely required. It is 100x harder to raise A than seed.
Me: the pitch deck will get you a meeting, not a deal. Price of entry for Series A.
Danielle: 15) Ladies, skip the heels. A lot of investors like to do walking meetings, no need to suffer.
Me: completely disagree, the heels are a huge advantage, wear them with pride. No VC has ever asked me to take a walk.
Danielle: 16) understand pre-money vs. post-money, liquidation preference and other key terms. Read “Venture Deal” by
Me: I’d recommend reading
@venturehacks by @nivi – I learned everythind I know from him.
Danielle: 17) people talk about 10 “brand name” VCs but you should plan to pitch 30+ firms. There are very good less visible investors.
Me: agree completely, pitch to the bottom 10 “generic name” VCs first. Get your story straight and then pitch the top 10 VCs.
Danielle: 18) it is 20 degrees hotter in the Valley than the City. If you don’t want to be a sweaty pig dress accordingly.
Me: and it is still 100 degrees in Dallas right now, so quit complaining about the temperature in Menlo Park. Geez!
Danielle: 19) ladies, it may look like the set of Mad Men but unless you normally wear dresses just stick with normal clothes and good hygiene.
Me: rent the runway ladies. Dresses are in and they are really comfortable. If I was Scottish I’d wear a kilt. 😉
Danielle: 20) you should know your numbers so deeply and your market so deeply that you could recite them if the slides don’t work, without looking.
Me: TOTALLY AGREE! You should prefer to tell your company’s story as if it was a real story – decks are for chumps. Know it all.
Danielle: 21) okay back to unconventional stuff… Don’t be rude to assistants or other staff EVER.
Me: TOTALLY AGREE. The assistants and staff order the lunches – be nice to them or feel their wrath!
Danielle: 22) save the “power play” shenanigans theater moves for the actual target.
Me: btw, the theater moves and power plays only work in the movies.
Danielle: 23) regarding power moves, investors know what you are doing and yes it will work on some… But huge turn off to others. Know your audience.
Me: unless you’ve raised millions before, don’t be too clever by half and try to play a power move. Be humble. Be yourself.
Danielle: 24) in B2B the best metrics do often win, if you’ve got them flaunt them!
Me: hell yes, lead with your best numbers, but don’t forget to know your cohorts… The best numbers won’t help without them.
Danielle: 25) you need a CRM or at least spreadsheet to keep track of your VC relationships. Kids names, hobbies, companies they’re proud of.
Me: Agreed. Know your target VC. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora. Engage. Engage. Engage.
Danielle: 26) once you start fundraising ban yourself from saying things like “I hate fundraising” til money is in the bank. You fucking love this.
Me: raising venture capital is fucking hard, you’re going to hate it. Own the fact that it sucks, but keep it to yourself.
Danielle: 27) the sandwiches in the Sharon Heights deli are killer.
Me: “Lunch? Aw, you gotta be kidding. Lunch is for wimps.” ~ Gordon Gekko.
Danielle: 28) if you’ll be leading the pitch have your cofounder drive so you can sing and dance to hype up music in the back seat cc:
Me: again, don’t take your own car or rent one. Take a freaking
Danielle: 29) from my cofounder
@MisterMorrill “do your research beforehand and look who does deals in your space, only talk to people you want.
Me: Agreed. There are only three or four VCs that will even consider doing your deal. Make sure you’re ready.
Danielle: 30) general solicitation is not ready for prime time, don’t be trendy get a lead who will partner with you. Think of it like recruiting.
Danielle: 31) if you raised $3M+ in seed money you are competing with Series A *and* Series B candidates.
Me: chumps raise $3M in seed. $1M should be the most you raise in seed. Trust me. Don’t skip steps along the way.
Danielle: 32) don’t overdo it on slide design, it’s like a house that’s been on the market too long and is over-staged.
Me: Don’t try too hard. Put a Keynote deck (not Prezi) together and call it a day (unless you’re raising money for Prezi).
Danielle: 33) ladies if you feel you were treated differently because you’re female note that but don’t let it consume you keep going and stay focused.
Me: Ladies, you WILL be treated differently. Trust me, being a man isn’t a cake walk either. Only 1-2% of companies raise VC.
Danielle: 34) at the end of the day, go home to your support network and share your thorns and roses (learned this from
@chrisfhoward‘s 3 boys).
Me: no one will understand what you’re going through, don’t bother trying to explain. Raising VC is fucking hard.
Danielle: 35) would be great if collaborative tweet storming was easier.
@twitter remember that hing you showed me? Hurry up!!!
@twitter‘s got real issues (i.e. look at their stock price) besides your need for a tweet storm feature. 😉
Danielle: 36) if you’re not used to living by your calendar this will be really annoying. build in lots of buffer time for travel, food, and bathroom!
Me: If you don’t have a PA you better start embracing Google’s Calendar. Raising money is fucking hard.
Danielle: 37) if you go to the Rosewood with a VC everyone will know you are fundraising in 5-7 minutes.
Me: if you go to the Rosewood, take time to get a massage. They have a great spa. Trust me.
Danielle: 38) same deal with Coupa Cafe, The Creamery, Small Foods, 21st Amendment, The Battery — only do it once you have 2 term sheets.
Me: RIP The Creamery.
Danielle: 39) don’t subtweet how it’s going — I’m sure this will be hard for me.
Me: that’s what she said…
Danielle: 40) ladies here are some examples of pitch appropriate attire (picture redacted, but it was pants).
Me: This could work too (picture redacted, but it was zuck in hoodie).
Danielle: 41) slacks, a silk button down, and loafers from
@Everlane are always a good choice.
Me: Or perhaps this one (picture redacted).
Danielle: 42) you only fail if you stop trying to raise, we flunked out in the A round the first time
@bwertz @speechu and @chazard had our backs.
Me: sometimes it makes sense to throw in the towel. Lifestyle businesses aren’t that bad.
Danielle: 43) the reasons we did not raise our A the first time became objections to overcome, we took a learning mindset and broke them down head on.
Me: it took me 99 meetings to find an investor for my first Series A. I changed my pitch 20 times until I figured it out.
Danielle: 44) make a playlist of music that makes you feel like a BOSS. Music you find yourself strutting to. Music that reveals your best self.
Me: don’t underestimate the value of silence. I have my best ideas when I’m totally in my own head.
Danielle: 45) leave it all on the court.
Me: I agree, reveal yourself completely. Tell the truth. Don’t exaggerate. Your authentic self will win.
Danielle: 46) discovering so many more female founders through favs of this tweetstorm, ladies keep fighting to raise don’t give up!!!
Me: I made a list of female entrepreneurs before it was cool, check it out: https://twitter.com/amuse/lists/female-entrepreneurs …
Danielle: 47) raising seed funding is like being 15, I’d love to be that skinny but never actually want to go back to being that much of a n00b again.
Me: LOL just wait, you’ll be raising seed for your next deal before you know it.
Danielle: 48) lobby I love the most is
@BessemerVP because of all the IPO tombstones. Lots to look at on the walls + very unique origin story.
Me: REDACTED 😉
Danielle: 49) tweets are slowing because the conversation is so good! dozens of CEOs and VCs have chimed in to share their perspectives.
Me: or perhaps the wine was catching up…
Danielle: 50) for the full effect of this tweetstorm, you need the Interstellar soundtrack BLASTING all day.
Me: no comment.
Danielle: 51) this tweetstorm powered by Peach-Pear
Me: uh huh… I’m sure that is what it was powered by…