What are some good ways to get to meet with VC’s without introductions?

Actively build, maintain and make use of the amazing social networking tools that are available. Right now, there are over 11 million people who can provide an introduction to me through LinkedIn (and I am far from an open networker.)

If you can’t figure out how to get one of those eleven MILLION people to recommend you to me, that’s probably a good indication that you may not be quite ready yet to be a successful entrepreneur in the US.

*original post can be found on Quora @ http://www.quora.com/David-S-Rose/answers *

Up-to-date Investors Want Social Proof from Startups

I just read Social Proof Is the New Currency on the Social Media Today blog. Author Daniel Lay writes: 

Whether you like Mark Zuckerberg’s mug or not, the social web is here to stay, and businesses that can integrate social proof into their marketing efforts seamlessly will join this new “socially rich” class. We mean richness in fans and followers, not number of zeroes in your bank account. Social proof is the new currency of credibility.

I don’t agree completely — I think a fat bank account is a really good thing too — but I do think it summarizes an important truth: All startups looking for investment need to deal with what that post is calling social proof. To me, the underlying reality is that startups and their founders are traceable on social media. There are footprints to track, or — far worse — no footprints. 

Take it to the pitch moment, say a startup pitching a group of angel investors, which is a scene I see often. Startup founders will be judged by their social media footprint. The startups themselves, as businesses, will be judged by their social media footprints, alias social proof. A founder basing projections on social media marketing will look good if she has thousands of Facebook likes and Twitter followers, bad if she has none or only a few. The social proof, or lack of it, is evidence. Up-to-date investors understand that.  

Social proof can’t be manufactured from one day to the next. It takes time to create a credible footprint. It’s one of the first activities to start as you get rolling. Somebody among the founders should have a stream established from a few years back; and the company itself should have a stream that is at least a few months old, with credible updates, and something to show for itself. 

Tim Berry , Founder, Palo Alto Software
December 3rd, 2013

Corporate Perks Will Doom Your Entrepreneur Dreams

Image via ExecutiveSky.ch

Image via ExecutiveSky.ch

I hear many executives and professionals in large corporations talking about their dream of jumping ship, and starting their own company. What they don’t realize is that the longer they wait, the more big-company habits they are acquiring, which will make their eventual decision harder and entrepreneurial efforts less and less likely to succeed.

Certainly, the longer they wait, the greater the variety of excuses they will find for why now is not the time. Common examples include; need to work on my resume, broaden my experience, enhance my skills, save my income, and maintain a stable family life until my children are gone. Most will then NEVER make the step, and remain unsatisfied through much of their career. Read more

Martin Zwilling , Founder and CEO, Startup Professionals
December 1st, 2013

What is the difference between a vertical and a horizontal market?

vertical market is one in which all of your customers are in one particular industry, regardless of where in the food chain they are. For example, the siteNoodle.org is a vertical search engine for the education industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a kindergarten class, an Ivy League college, or an adult education polka dancing course, it covers its industry top to bottom. Read more

What’s the right way to interface with potential investors a couple of months prior to starting a funding round?

My thoughts on this have changed a bit over time, as the general pace of—and level of activity in—the startup world has begun to hyper-accelerate. It’s always a good idea to be able to approach someone with whom you’ve had at least a nodding relationship, because that immediately differentiates you from a pure, over-the-transom funding request, and you are much more likely to at least get an answer. Read more

6 Tips For Entrepreneurs Who Think They Can Dance

Image via Meetup.com

Image via Meetup.com

I’m not much of a television person, but my family loves one of the popular “reality” shows, called “So You Think You Can Dance,” so I’m sort of forced to watch it every week. Over time, I’ve concluded that even startup entrepreneurs can learn a few things from this one. Of course, you must ignore the pomp and circumstance of the TV staging.

I’m on the selection committee of our local Angels group, so I know that every CEO approaching our group for funding goes through ten minutes of creative “dancing,” to give us a basis for selecting startups that are most qualified and “ready” to proceed to the next level. If selected, they go through it again in the real meeting of 40-60 investors. It’s tough and not fun for either side. Read more

Martin Zwilling , Founder and CEO, Startup Professionals
November 24th, 2013

Is the Marketing Strategy not important in a business plan when pitching to VCs?

Marketing strategy actually is quite important to most investors. The bottom line is that if no one shows up to buy or use your product, it doesn’t matter one whit how cool or great or innovative it is. And investors do not like top-down projections (“we’ll get a 10% market share…”). They very much want to see how you are going to get your first customer, and your second, and your third.

*original post can be found on Quora @ http://www.quora.com/David-S-Rose/answers *