There's something paradoxical about meeting with Venture Capitalists. Centrally endemic in our pursuit of entrepreneurship is the core quality of autonomy. You get to call the shots. You determine the strategic direction of your company. You determine your company's image. You. You. You.
But it all dissolves away once you start meeting with the boys with the big checkbooks. Once again, you are returned to a world where you need to sell yourself. You need to justify why you are worth investing in. You need to convince someone that your idea, time, passion, and the previous few months of your life are worth actually worth something. It's a pressure filled experience, and it's uncomfortable.
I've always subscribed to the bootstrapping theory (when possible) myself. Pay your own way, and preserve your equity. But there are definite advantages to having funding, and one of them that interests me is the mentorship that most VC's will provide.
I spent most of my day yesterday meeting with various startup accelerators, looking to land an advisor/mentor for my company. They were all shocked when I told them that I didn't want any funding; instead, I wanted someone with enough connections to bring some serious PR to my company. I'm developing a social media advertising platform, and I have already built a working prototype (I'll post it soon for you guys).
It's almost humorous to read their reactions while you answer the inevitable question "What does your company do?". You can just see them asking themselves "should I throw him out now? Should I let this go on? Oh wait, maybe this is a good idea"..
I had a great chat with a local startup consultant at one of the accelerators, and he's putting me in touch with some very established entrepreneurs (you'd recognize a few of their names); we'll see where it goes.
As someone that's always been averse to seeking funding, I'd recommend meeting with some of the local startup accelerators in your area. Most will take some time to sit down with you and at least provide you with some topical advice for your business. And it also exposes you to the pitch process, which is never a bad thing (unenjoyable yes, but bad, no).
You can basically get free consulting advice from people who have already succeeded as entrepreneurs, and you also can build up your network. What's not to like? It's also free, so it's not going to cost you anything (unlike a phone call to Accenture to provide the same service).
If you're not a fan of networking, this is a great exercise, because startup accelerators are filled with people just like you; most of the time they want to help people like you succeed, and they'll be happy to provide you with a bit of advice. The environment is friendly, and it's an easy way to ease into everything. The team at an Accelerator can put you in touch with VC's (most are VC's themselves), and they can also tell you if your idea sucks (which is good; maybe you need to fix it?). Get to know some of the big boys at your local startup accelerator this week. Make it a personal challenge.
As a new feature, I'm going to start posting a book of the week, of books I've read (or am currently reading). I'm currently reading Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup, which is an awesome book, with a lot of advice you will use immediately. You can get it here if you're interested.Get Social!
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