For many years, I had a poster on my wall with a quote from Calvin Coolidge, the 30th American President. Coolidge believed persistence was the most important attribute you can have.
After the dot com bust, I served on a panel with Tom Clancy, a former partner at Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, a billion dollar venture fund in San Diego.
Having been burned by poor investments like most other venture funds, Clancy said that, going forward, Enterprise Partners would wait at least six months before funding any new company they met.
Their rationale was that during the six month period, they would see what the entrepreneur was able to accomplish. If the entrepreneur accomplished the
milestones set forth in their business plan, than they were deemed worthy and would receive funding. If not, they would not.
The rationale behind the strategy makes sense. Venture funds primarily invest in people, and those people with a proven track record are typically the best bets.
So what is the entrepreneur to do during the six months in order to get the investor to write them a check?
Obviously they need to achieve milestones... But what else?
Before I give you an answer, I want you to know how crucially important this is, not only in raising capital, but in securing key partnership and gaining key customers.
Let me give you an example of an entrepreneur who successfully used this technique in order to get a key partner. This entrepreneur is now a famous author and marketer. His name is Chet Holmes. And one of the key reasons that Mr. Holmes achieved success was through his partnership with marketing guru Jay Abraham.
How did Holmes get the partnership with Abraham? Like many people, he tried to reach him by phone, fax and mail. But Holmes did it every other week...
...FOR TWO YEARS!!!
Then, he finally got a call from Abraham's business manager for a lunch appointment, flew to Los Angeles for lunch, and established a very profitable partnership.
So, what's the answer to the question of how to woo investors, customers, partners, advisors, key hires, and more over six months?
Effective and persistent communications. In other words...
You must consistently, over a period of time, hammer home your message to investors, key customers and others.
What exactly does this mean? For investors, once you meet them, you should follow-up with them at least twice per month to update them on your progress. For prospective customers, you should contact them on an ongoing basis to continually give them value and convince them of the benefits
of working with you. And of course, don't forget to follow-up with your existing customers.
And a key here is that this follow-up should NEVER END unless or until the costs of the follow-up clearly outweigh the benefits.
Remember that people invest in, buy from, and partner with other people. So, who would you rather work with? Someone who has been contacting you for two years with quality messages regarding why you should partner with them, buy their product or invest in them? Or someone who you just met yesterday and tells you how great they are?
The answer is clear.
Don't stop at the first contact. Choose the appropriate frequency (i.e., you don't want to be perceived as too obnoxious or pushy to potential investors), craft quality messages, achieve your milestones, and convince investors and others to work with you over time.
Interestingly, this one thing is something you can't live without. At least not for long. And how you use it, pay for it, and access it is going to change.
But fortunately, there are some cutting-edge entrepreneurs working wonders on solving the challenges of this one thing.
What is it?
All around the world water shortages long ago crossed the crisis threshold.
In California. Arizona. New Mexico. Georgia and Florida. The Middle East. China.
Too many years of antiquated public policy, population and economic growth, climate change, and unsustainable agriculture have strained water resources in all of these places to and beyond the breaking point.
The American Entrepreneur to the Rescue
The greater the adversity, the greater the opportunity. And in the dynamic technology landscape of "new water," American entrepreneurs are leading the way.
There are a number of transformational technologies required to solve our world's water issues. Some are currently being developed by start-ups, while others present untapped business opportunities.
What are They?
I would like to invite you to an exclusive opportunity to meet Dr. Yoram Cohen, the Director of the Water Technology Research Center at UCLA and a world-renowned expert on water technology and commercialization.
Dr. Cohen will share with us where the market opportunities in water are now and what technologies and companies are best poised to prosper in the months and years to come.
UPDATE: Venture Capital Bootcamp registration is now open.
Next week, I'll be opening up registration for my new online training program, Venture Capital Bootcamp.
But before I do that, I wanted to give you an overview of what we'll be covering together.
Here's What's Included...
Venture Capital Bootcamp is a four-week interactive e-class where I'll guide you step-by-step through the process of raising venture capital, from start to finish.
The reason VC Bootcamp is a 4-week program is because there are 4 critical steps to the venture capital fundraising process.
If you're serious about raising venture capital, you need to go through each of these four steps. And if you ignore any of these steps, you will sabotage your chances of getting funded.
There's a lot to learn, but I'll be there with you every step of the way, giving you all of my best practices and proven techniques.
Here's an overview of what we'll be covering each week...
Week 1: Preparing to Raise Venture Capital
First, we'll cover Venture Capital 101 including:
* Key venture capital terminology you must know to get funded
* What you must accomplish BEFORE you can raise venture capital
* How angel investors can help you attract venture funding
* Why you should stop obsessing about giving up equity ownership
* And more...
Next, I'll explain What Venture Capitalists Really Want, including:
* The exact criteria VCs will use to judge your company
* How you must position your company in order to attract venture capital
* The 2:6:2 rule of venture capital (and how to use it to your advantage)
* And more...
Next, I'll give you my best practices for creating all of your Venture Capital
Marketing & Presentation Materials... including:
* 3 simple keys to a powerful elevator pitch
* How to construct a business plan that will impress venture capitalists
* The 3 things you must accomplish in your Executive Summary
* And more...
NOTE: Don't worry if you haven't created all of your VC materials yet.
During VC Bootcamp, I'll show you how to create them quickly and easily.
Then it's on to Week 2...
Week 2: Finding and Contacting Venture Capitalists
First, I'll show you How to Identify the Right Venture Capital Firms, including:
* Why all VCs are not created equal
* 3 techniques you must use when creating your VC list
* How to target the right individual to contact at each VC firm
* How to tell if a VC is serious about funding you (or just wasting your time)
* And more...
And then, I'll show you How to Contact Venture Capitalists, including:
* "Rookie" mistakes you must avoid when contacting venture capitalists
* The 3 surefire ways to "cut through the clutter," so you get more VC meetings
* How to use blogs and social networking websites to find and contact VCs
* What it means to "over-shop" your deal and how to avoid this like the plague
* And more...
Then it's on to Week 3...
Week 3: How to Pitch Venture Capitalists
This is the most important part of the process because no matter how many VC meetings you set up, you won't get a dime of funding unless you have a great VC pitch.
That's why we'll be focusing an entire week on your venture capital pitch.
* How to make sure you're totally prepared for your VC meeting
* The 10 things you must cover in your VC pitch
* How to protect your business ideas when meeting with VCs
* What NOT to say during a VC meeting
* The best way to follow-up with VCs AFTER you meet with them
* And more...
Week 4: How to Negotiate with Venture Capitalists
By this point, you've impressed VCs, and they're interested in writing you a check. But you haven't sealed the deal yet. And if you fail to negotiate the right terms, it can mean disaster for both your company's future and your ability to "cash out"...
The deal terms are often the difference between you eventually receiving a personal check for millions (when you later sell your company or go public) or losing control of your company.
The stakes are very high - so you can't afford to screw this up!
In this final week, you'll learn:
* How to maximize your valuation (so you retain equity & control)
* What to watch out for in your venture capital "term sheet"
* How to prepare for venture capital due diligence, so it goes smoothly
* When to hire a lawyer
* How to position your company for follow-on rounds of funding
* And more...
As you can see, I've structured Venture Capital Bootcamp so that, by the end of Week 4, you will have everything you need to successfully raise venture capital.
I hope that gives you a better idea of what you'll learn during VC Bootcamp. I'll be in touch with more details as we get ready to open the doors (next week).
P.S. VC Bootcamp attendance will be strictly limited, because of the amount of personal attention we'll give each participant.
If you'd like to be the first to know when we open up registration, then join the Priority Notification List.
Meeting with the venture capitalist and giving them the right presentation is the MOST important part of the venture capital raising process.
This video shows you exactly what topics you should cover during a venture capital presentation. And it also highlights mistakes to avoid when pitching VCs.
Click here to watch the video.
And after you watch the video, be sure to download the free VC presentation template located below the video.
I recently surveyed THOUSANDS of entrepreneurs about raising venture capital. And then I spent hours reviewing your responses.
I went ahead and created a report that answers most of the common questions - specifically, about how to find and contact venture capitalists, and set up VC meetings.
Click here to download your free report.
This report shows you:
* How to target the right VC firms (so you won't waste time
"barking up the wrong trees")
* What you must do before approaching any VC firm, or else
you won't get funded (no matter how great your pitch is)
* How to pinpoint the perfect person to contact at a VC firm
(who will actually WANT to hear your pitch)
* A proven method you can "copy and paste" and start using
immediately to set up VC meetings
* The 1 thing you should never send to a VC firm (unless they
specifically ask for it)
Click here to download your free report.
You may be surprised by one of my recommendations (what you should NEVER send to VCs, unless they ask for it).
But as I've said before... it's often a good idea to take a totally opposite approach from most entrepreneurs, since MOST entrepreneurs fail to raise venture capital.
Last week, Denver-based Internet Pawn (InternetPawn.com) raised $1.5 million in funding from Daylight Partners and Access Ventures.
What I found most interesting about this deal was that nearly ten years ago Growthink wrote a business plan for an online pawn shop.
Conventional thinking would say that Internet Pawn was too late to the game and thus had no chance of success.
But many times it's better not to be the first mover. As the 2nd, 3rd or later mover, you learn a lot from the earlier risk takers. And you can avoid many of the costly mistakes.
Oftentimes, the later movers are headed by people who worked at the first movers and learned the mistakes first-hand. That's invaluable experience.
One key lesson is that if you are still contemplating starting your company, try to work at an entrepreneurial company where you can learn first-hand what works and what doesn't.
Another key lesson is that there is always room for a better mousetrap. So don't be too concerned if you're not the first mover...nor should you let your guard down if you are the first mover -- since someone else will always be trying to beat you.
If you would like help developing a professional business plan for your company, Growthink has developed business plans for more than 2,000 clients (who have raised $1 billion since 1999).
To learn more about Growthink's business plan services, call 800-506-5728.
And if you'd rather develop your business plan yourself, click here to download Growthink's business plan template.
I've been working with entrepreneurs for more than 10 years, and by far the biggest question I get asked is...
"How can I raise venture capital?"
Like it or not, much of our success as entrepreneurs depends on our ability to secure enough funding.
And when it comes to venture capital in particular, the vast, VAST majority of entrepreneurs go about it the wrong way...
For every 10,000 entrepreneurs who try, only a handful succeed. The harsh reality is that the other 99.9% fail.
And if you go about raising venture capital like MOST entrepreneurs do, then you'll probably get the same results that most entrepreneurs do.
Most entrepreneurs "blast" their business plans to hundreds or thousands of VC firms... but they get no meetings, no term sheets... and no funding.
Yet, every week - if not every day - you see news reports of companies who've raised millions of dollars in venture capital (even during this "slow down" in the economy).
In fact, just a few weeks ago, on April 22, 2010, one of our clients, Click Forensics, Inc. raised another $6 million in venture financing, for a total funding of $15 million.
So why am I telling you this?
You can greatly increase your chances of raising venture capital if you take the RIGHT approach. And I want to give you access to my proven methodology.
For the past 10 years, I've been developing my system for raising venture capital. It's the same system we use for Growthink clients (who have raised $1 billion since 1999).
About a year ago, I revealed my entire venture capital system to a small group of entrepreneurs, and since then many more have been on the waiting list.
Well, the wait is almost over... I'm planning to share all of my venture capital strategies and tactics again next month, so YOU can dramatically increase your chances of getting funded.
But before I unleash this thing, I want to do one final check to make sure that my system really has everything you need.
So I have this one question for you...
"If you could have a private conversation with me, what 2 questions would you like to ask me about venture capital?"
Click here to tell me your questions
When you click that link, you'll be taken to an online survey form, where you can type your response.
I really want to make sure that I answer ALL of your questions about raising venture capital.
What are your 2 biggest questions about raising venture capital?
Tell me here:
My wife and I recently watched an episode of CBS Sunday morning with Charles Osgood.
The show always has interesting news segments, and in this episode, there was a segment about Google Doodles.
Google Doodles are the new versions of the Google logo that you see on Google's homepage every so often. You can see a history of these images here: http://www.google.com/logos/
Google has a team of 4 or so "doodlers" who spend their days creating new doodles. They also run contests whereby others create and submit doodles and can win cash prizes and get their designs seen by millions if they win.
The new doodles make it more interesting and exciting for people to visit Google's homepage. This in turn drives more people to Google every day.
Which leads to a great question -- what are you doing in your business that promotes positive curiosity in your customers? Can they expect something new from you when they visit your store or website, or will they get the same experience month after month, year after year.
Clearly you need to be innovating in order to not only keep up with changing customer demands, but to keep customers interested in what you're doing and to distinguish yourself from competitors.
The Hawthorne Effect also comes into play here. The Hawthorne Effect basically states that any change will result in increased results. For example, a store that changes the color of its walls will generally see a short-term boost in sales from its regular customers. Likewise, a slight change in work conditions will boost employee productivity.
Yes, change for the sake of change alone often produces results.
Today's Question: The Ford Motor Company manufactured 1 million cars for the first time in 1922. In what year did it hit the 2 million mark?
Question on 5/5/10: What were Kleenex tissues marketed as when they were first introduced in 1924?
Answer: Kleenex tissues were originally marketed as a cold cream remover. By promoting it as a cleaner, healthier alternative to towels and handkerchiefs forremoving cosmetics, it quickly became a mainstay in households across the nation.
In 1927, the company's head researcher started using the tissues in place of a handkerchief for his hay fever. It took him 3 years to convince the head of advertising to try to market the tissues for this use. And by late 1930, the use of Kleenex tissues as a handkerchief substitute really took off.
The lesson here is that your products and services may satisfy customers in ways you might not know and never intended. It's interesting that it took Kleenex 3 years before it tried advertising the product for the new use. Don't be afraid to experiment in order to find breakthrough products and services.