Every new entrepreneur has heard about how hard it is to get your business plan read by an investor. Most venture capitalists get multiple new plans in the mail every day, and unless you are very lucky and have excellent timing, chances are an unsolicited mailing will just get buried under the stack of mail piling up on his or her desk. Isn't there a better way to get the investment you need to run your business?
In fact, there is. If you know where to go, you can arrange face to face meeting and valuable conversations with investors that will remember you and eagerly await your business plan. These are "hot spots" for technology executives and businessmen, and today we reveal where to go and how to behave to get those precious few minutes of business talk with the investors of your choosing.
An Industry Conference
Industry conferences are broad events that attract movers and shakers from all across a particular field of study to meet each other and possibly do business with like minded individuals. As an entrepreneur seeking funding, you should make it a point to attend the biggest and most relevant events in your industry, as they have the tendency to draw out investors and people with valuable connections.
As you make your way around the conference, do not be shy about approaching the other professionals in the room. The entire purpose of industry events is to promote networking and deal making. Bring plenty of business cards and perfect your presentations before you go. It may even help to rehearse exactly what you will say, almost word for word, in case you feel nervous in the midst of conversation.
A Venture Event
Sometimes venture capitalist firms hold funding events where they invite new entrepreneurs to present ideas to the investors and vie for funding opportunities. These events are often free or very affordable to attend and are one of the most direct ways to get some face to face time with hungry investors. Popular seed funding group Y Combinator holds events like these every year, and if you're prepared to endure the competition you can apply directly on their website.
Of course, there is a downside to this strategy of acquiring funding. Since these events are specifically aimed at attracting bright and ambitious entrepreneurs, you will be directly competing with many others for the attention and favor of the investors. This is why you should put in the time and effort to perfect your presentations, put together an impressive team, and make sure your branding is consistent and professional before attending.
A Country Club
Industry conferences and funding events are good for strictly-business encounters where everyone is in the work frame of mind and actively seeking new connections. However, what about when investors are not on the clock and want to relax with other businessmen? Many of them choose to go to the country club for a round of golf and a cocktail, making this is an ideal environment for "bumping into" the right investor for your company.
Of course this sort of meeting needs to be approached much differently than one at a conference. They say more business gets done on the golf course than in the office, but you cannot just walk up to an investor as he's practicing his swing and start pitching him on your new idea. Instead, begin conversations over mutual, situational stuff – such as the love of golf or how the current weather conditions are perfect/terrible for the course. Eventually, you can parlay such talks into business when the moment feels right.
A Yacht Club
Of course, not every investor loves to swing the golf club on his day off, others choose to relax on the water aboard their boat. After a day of sailing, the Yacht club is where you can find them hamming it up with their pals over a round of beers and a good dinner. If you know anything about boats or popular sailing destinations in the area, it shouldn't be too hard to start a conversation with your targets during a lull in the evening.
Again, don't approach this as a business encounter – the goal is simply to break the ice and get the investor feeling comfortable with you. If you notice him hanging around by the bar by himself for a bit, walk up and start a conversation about something mutual, like the incoming storm and its effects on your weekend boating plans. Much like the Country Club, if you do this right, you should be able to make the jump to business casually and comfortably when the time is right.
Virtually every venture capitalist you've read about in the business press – the ones who fund the Facebooks and the YouTubes – are based in Silicon Valley. The truth is, you can travel to as many conferences as you like, and make the requisite trips to NYC and California if you succeed in getting appointments, but nothing compares to moving your business right smack dab in the middle of the technology hub of the America.
Simply going out to dinner or drinks around Silicon Valley will have you mingling with other entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and investors with an eye open for the next big idea to latch on to. Best of all, by living in the area, your speed of execution will go way up. This is to say that if you strike up a deal with an angel investor or collaborating partner, you can begin working at each others' offices the very next day, rather than coordinating progress over email and web cam chats.
About the Author: Sheena Freestone is a freelance writer for FundingUniverse. Funding Universe matches qualified entrepreneurs to banks, investors and other funding sources. Funding Universe helps small businesses avoid scams and rip offs by securing funding from trusted national banks and financial institutions.