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Four Lessons from a Day in the Life of an Investor…

Last Wednesday I attended Venture Summit West, a major industry event in Silicon Valley, bringing hundreds of venture capitalists, corporate venture capitalists, angel investors, and business executives together.

I was impressed by the high quality of the companies that pitched their business idea during this event. Majority of the companies already raised substantial funding, had a strong pipeline of customers and a sound business plan or were founded by successful serial entrepreneurs.

This is a 1-day event and companies only get 3 minutes to present their business, so I don’t believe deals get signed here but it is a perfect opportunity to meet investors and score a next meeting. That’s why I was so surprised that some presenters didn’t prepare well. Some key facts and key learning points:

Many presenters didn’t respect their time limit. Some were interrupted by the alarm in the middle of their presentation and were not able to deliver their key message. Others just kept talking after the alarm rang and when the next presenter was already on stage

Know how much time they have allotted for you and always prepare to come in under that time.

A CEO of a startup showed a movie during this presentation but due to a technical failure there was no sound. Instead of keeping his cool, making a joke about the situation or simple continuing his presentation, he just stood there for 8 minutes until the issue was solved. Off course everyone felt for him, but this is not a great way to convince people of your leaderships skills

Prepare properly and have a back-up plan, especially if you are the first presenter

Because presenters didn’t respect their time limit, the last presentations started during the lunch break. Many people in the audience left during those presentations and you could feel that some presenters got really annoyed. One presenter just stopped talking every time somebody left the room.

Focus on the people in the audience, not on the people leaving. Don’t allow those people to ruin your presentation

A CEO of a startup started his presentation with a slide of their mission statement. The print was so small, nobody (including the presenter!) could read it. He apologized and said he forgot their mission statement. It definitely brought laughter in his presentation, but it’s definitely not a good way to convince VCs that you are a pro.

If you want to communicate your mission statement, make sure you remember it!

The main thing I remember from this event is that it is a fantastic time to be an entrepreneur! There is a lot of capital and VCs are ready to invest but the competition is ferocious! From the very beginning you must fight to get funded and to win and retain your customers. Or as one VC said, ‘You have to run twice as fast to stay in the same place’.


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