August 15, 2018

The One Thing VC’s Agree On When Investing In A Start-up


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

By Tara Bradford

I recently attended a pitch event with a client who is raising money in her seed round. One of the benefits of attending this event was the opportunity for my client to practice her pitch in front of investors and receive feedback on it. She was given one minute to pitch her business idea.

The meeting held approximately 150 attendees and 5 panelists from various financial institutions. All the participants who signed up to pitch were men, except for my client. Current events tell us that being a woman in tech or finance can be a challenging environment. The less common stories are the ones where a woman is successful in a male dominated industry.

On the projector was a large timer counting down to ensure each pitch only lasted one minute. My client got up with the microphone and delivered her pitch that she had worked hard to memorize and we had tailored to the particular investors.

The panel (which consisted of both male and female investors) was on the edge of their seats during her presentation. At the end, they couldn’t wait to hear more. Afterwards, there was an opportunity for networking and many of the people in the audience who listened to her pitch approached her, congratulating her on a successful presentation.

A lot of advice was given that day that was very specific to early stage technology startups using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Each venture capital firm is looking for something a little different when you pitch them.

But there was one thing that they could all agree on: You need to have the right team to support your idea when you are seeking an early stage investment.

So how do you know if you have the right team?

  • You have to be a strong executor as a founder. Be sure you have examples of how you have executed on projects in the past and what you have done to move the startup forward.
  • You should have someone on your team with real-world insight into the problem, whether it is someone with a PhD in the subject matter or someone with years of industry experience.
  • The team should be passionate about the idea. If you are not willing to do whatever it takes to get the business off the ground, it won’t succeed.


Don’t let venture capitalists intimidate you. If you prepare ahead of time for your pitch, have a good support system and are open to accepting feedback so you can make your idea even better, then you are on the right track.

By Tara Bradford

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