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An Entrepreneurs Guide To The Venture Capital Pitch

Written by Jenna Weiner
Published: 7/28/2009

Beating the venture capital competition involves focus, preparation and pitching, not gimmicks.

Though the competition is fierce for venture capital funding, there is good news for entrepreneurs in search of seed money - you do not have to dress up like an avocado.

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Gimmicks are not the way to earn a venture capitalist's attention, reported the Wall Street Journal - Steve Brotman, managing director of New York-based venture capital firm Greenhill SAVP, told the newspaper that when one woman dressed up in all green to pitch an avocado-centered startup, he immediately turned her down.

Instead of produce-inspired schemes, entrepreneurs should focus on selling themselves as well as their business plans, presenting clear and jargon-free pitches, avoiding valuations and early negotiations, and following up after presentations.

All too often, entrepreneurs are modest about their achievements and entrepreneurial successes, the Journal reported. This strategy may actually hurt the person's prospects, as venture capitalists are just as likely to be swayed by the entrepreneur's experience - especially if it elicits trust - as they are by the business plan itself.

In addition, to avoid being boring, unfocused or incoherent, entrepreneurs should prepare a one-hour pitch and include a 12- to 20-page slide presentation with handouts. A helpful technique, one venture capitalist told the Journal, is for entrepreneurs to pitch to mom first.

Approximately 33 percent of startup firms that ended in an initial public offering are backed by venture capitalists, while 16 percent are funded by a combination of angel investors and VCs, said a recent study by the Center for Venture Capital Research at the University of New Hampshire.

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