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Series A pitch: In person vs. web-conference

For a Series A, it is essential to pitch in person? What do VCs expect for the first meeting? The VCs we're planning on pitching to are scattered across the US and Canada. Do we need to factor in the travel expenses to meet each one face to face? This can get pretty costly if we have to meet 10 or 12 of them.

Obviously in person is better but I'm concerned that it could be a waste of time if all they know about us is our elevator story. What information do we need to validate whether pitching to a given VC in person makes any sense? Is it acceptable to request a preliminary call to discuss the business, market opportunity and to assess if what our expectations are in terms of cheque size and exit horizon aligns with their investment strategy? We did this in a couple of cases and it went very well. They want us to come back to formally pitch when our business plan is ready. We're only planning on pitching to certain types of VCs that invest in our space (MedTech, healthcare, telehealth...). That already assures us they understand the market and business problem we're solving.

9 Replies

Thomas Duffy
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Thomas Duffy Advisor
Telehealth365
series A+ is a great product. i would do a crowd funding campaign to build a bridge between you and the people you know through social and private networks
Rod Abbamonte
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Rod Abbamonte Advisor
Co Founder at STARTREK / @startupHunter / @startupWay / @CoFounderFound / @GOcapital / @startupClub / @lastminute
In person always do not matter if you loose your time because will be learning always but web-conference if you do not have any other chance.
Richard Pridham
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Richard Pridham Entrepreneur • Advisor
Investor, President & CEO at Retina Labs
Thomas: was this an answer to my question? If so, I don't understand your response. We're not looking at crowdfunding.
Thomas Duffy
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Thomas Duffy Advisor
Telehealth365
a Multi pronged attack at investors is the answer series A + and private meetings with investors
Yaniv Sneor
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Yaniv Sneor Entrepreneur
Founder, Mid Atlantic Bio Angels; President, Blue Cactus Consulting, Trustee, ILSE
Richard,

First - get to know the VC - what they invest in (sweet spot), at what stage they invest in, what they look for in companies, their preferred method to work with companies like you, how much money they invest, etc. You can do all of this in a phone call.

Pitching can be done remotely. Remember that the only goal of the pitch is to get them excited enough that they want to hear more - preferably in the form of due diligence. At that point you will have to meet in person, since no one invests in someone that they have not met.

Good luck.

Yaniv
Rob Adams
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Rob Adams Advisor
Advisory Board Member at PhotoPad For Business
It's important to meet in person. Web conferencing works well in a lot of situations but you must remember that, at your stage, VC's are investing in you without the level of business proof that comes with a B or C round. Being in the room conveys a lot more to them about your confidence, poise, comfort with your business and your ability to deftly field questions. I've judged a great number of pitches over web conferences, on everything from skype and hangouts to Cisco Telepresence and while all of these are okay, they just are not the same as an in person meeting. With hangouts and skype you get people talking over each other, hang ups, lost audio, video freezing, scheduling issues, background noise, etc. All manner of distractions that take away from your pitch. Even with something that is as super high quality as Telepresence, you can't shake hands, linger in the hall after the meeting, get to know the receptionist, physically hand them your deck and just viscerally connect.

Given that your investor group is spread out all over the place, personally I would make a list of the high potentials and investors you really want on board (those that will offer you substantial value beyond the check) and make those pitches in person. If the CEO can't travel to make the pitch, make sure one of the other founders is available to do the in person meeting. For the rest, make sure you use the highest quality conferencing software available if the investors are amenable. Do web conferencing for those pitches that are practice pitches, such as investors you know won't write you a check but will provide helpful feedback or help you network.




Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
Richard, you will need to do your homework anyway whether you pitch via skype or F2F, actually more so if skype. Best resource for homework is the executives of their portfolio companies as well as those companies who did not take investment from a particular firm. You will get to know the details of what each partner is like and you can decide from there.
David C. MSE
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David C. MSE Entrepreneur
CEO at Business Development

Richard,


This is a great topic. For me, personally, my preference is first to always meet in person when possible. But, I'm reading a preliminary interest. It sounds like it is very early on and you have impressed some people with your presence, but not necessarily your startup? If you have no business plan, I can't see any need to fly and meet with VC's. If it were me, I would have my business plan locked down. I then email the investors the exec summary and the team. I also say how much you need and that you have the plan. This really communicates, "We are ready, we are looking, we are prepared." Anything short of this seems like a costly handshake. I realize there are differing philosophies about sharing how much you need. I'm one that wants it in an exec summary and upfront. Because if you need $10M, and that investor is only interested in $1M or 2..




But even at that, I'm assuming the VC's have an established track record. Is it possible for any companies to invest? Also, I generally only reach out to the CEO's and Presidents of any approach. That means if it is a Forbes 400 billionaire, I go to them, if it's the founder of the VC, I go to them. That cuts out a lot of go betweens. And if they show interest, there is a better likelihood getting on a plane is worth the cost.



But again, that's my M.O. I don't like to waste time. I would be curious to hear more of what you are working on. I only have a few contacts in the Medical Industry, but they are considerably influential and connected.

Chris Maeda
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Chris Maeda Entrepreneur
President & CEO, Brick Street Software, Inc.
Face to face meetings are great, but I would not fly to meet VC's. They have the money to fly to you, and if they are not willing to do so, then they are probably not serious about investing in you.
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