Do you know what Google, PayPal, Microsoft and Adobe Systems have in common (besides being successful tech companies)?
They all evolved substantially before becoming major successes.
Google started as a search engine. But only after it acquired Applied Semantics, did it realize its true business: text-based advertising.
Microsoft began by building programming software. Later, it found its business in operating systems, Microsoft Office and servers.
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.
I took my first marketing course nearly 20 years ago. And I absolutely loved it. I was in my third year at the University of Virginia, and my professor, Sandra Schmidt, was simply awesome.
She was one of those professors who loved what she did. She was always smiling, spoke with great emotion, and truly loved marketing and teaching. And on the very first day of class, I still remember to this day, she asked us two questions to test our knowledge.
It's not very often that you hear someone say there is a lesson to be learned from vodka. However, that's exactly the case in the example I want to share today.
While alcohol is nothing new to the United States, surprisingly, vodka has only been here since Prohibition was repealed in the 1930's.
The first attempt to get vodka in the US market was by a Russian immigrant with the Smirnoff brand.
I think you'll like this story...
It was 1982, and a young man named Kenneth Cole wanted to launch a shoe company.
But, like many entrepreneurs, he had no money. He thought about going to U.S. banks and factories for capital, but feared that this was a long shot for him.
So, instead, he found a small Italian shoe production facility that had been hit hard by the 80s economy and desperately needed more clients. The company offered Kenneth a line of credit, and they immediately started manufacturing shoes.
If there's one story that I don't like to tell, it's this one...
But, there's a great lesson in it, so I'll tell it anyway.
Years ago, prior to Growthink, I created a frozen smoothie product. Let me explain exactly what it was...
If you ever buy a smoothie from a juice shop, half of the product is essentially juice concentrate and frozen fruits, and the other half is simply water.
Here's a great concept I originally learned from Babak Nivi, an entrepreneur and investor who also runs the website VentureHacks.com.
It's called the "High Concept Pitch," and this concept is critical to both your capital raising and marketing efforts.
So, what is a "high concept pitch"?
A high concept pitch is a single sentence that distills your company's vision. In other words, it's like a super-condensed elevator pitch.
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.