In the tech world, it's not uncommon for an entrepreneur to start a business, scale it, and eventually move into the world of venture capital. A less likely path: venture capitalists taking the opposite leap--going from investing in startups to actually running one. It's something Alex Broeker, former partner at Trellis Partners, has done successfully, having recently closed $23.5 million in Series C funding for his startup, Tabbed Out, which allows restaurant or bar patrons to pay tabs and tip from a mobile phone. Here's his advice on how any entrepreneur can land VC funding.
1. Don't over-answer questions.
Bludgeoning investors with an answer discourages a back-and-forth conversation, which is what you need if you want anyone to be engaged. "When they're feeling like a participant in the conversation because they're asking questions and it's a mutual dialogue that is generally a good sign," he says. What you don't want: An investor afraid of asking a question because of a CEO who blabs on for minutes at a time.
2. Be crisp with numbers.
Doing so conveys confidence. For example, if next year your revenue forecast is $5 million, say so. "Don't say something like 'It's between four and six.' Say five. Be really confident," he says. "How much does it cost to acquire a consumer? 'Two dollars.' And stop."
3. Don't foam the runway with caveats on anything.
Again, you want to project confidence. VCs will back projections down and think of what could go wrong all on their own. "When you foam the runway with caveats on anything it suggests a real lack of confidence in your business plan, your business model and the team that you put together," he says.
4. Have a three-year strategic plan always in mind.
You need to be able to talk about your current position on that trajectory and exactly where you will be in 12, 24 or 36 months. "Always reference that because it gives perspective to venture folks on where you are and that you a firm understanding of what you're doing today and what you will be doing a couple years from now," he says.
5. Sell your passion.
Deals don't get financed because of a good idea, but because of an entrepreneur's passion. "Passion is so intoxicating to venture folks," he says. "Sell your vision and your passion and everything else will follow from a fundraising standpoint."