How to Secure Venture Capital: A Series
Yodfat Harel Buchris, Managing Director, Blumberg Capital
Our last blog post in the Entrepreneur Toolkit series explored how entrepreneurs should prepare and present the theme – or the problem they are setting out to solve – during a pitch with investors. In this post, we’ll dive into how to build and introduce your team.
When establishing a founding team, the main consideration for entrepreneurs should be the number of founders. From an investor’s perspective, the ideal number is three. This is because founding and running a startup can be extremely stressful and, in most cases, too difficult to do without an internal sounding board. Two founders are better than one when it comes to decision-making, but the risk of disagreements about the direction of the business is high. With three, the team will have a nice variety of skills in leadership, strategic thinking and operations.
Additionally, entrepreneurs should remember that as investors fund early-stage businesses, we are really investing in the people themselves – you. The chemistry, relationships and spirit displayed by the team during a pitch is critical, as it can ultimately make or break the company. This translates into how you will build out the team beyond leadership roles, as well. At Blumberg Capital, we value teams highly and know the significance of bringing the right people on board as the business starts to grow. For that reason, we equip our portfolio company founders with HR and recruiting expertise to help them with resource planning, recruiting and retaining talent. HR strategy must go hand in hand with business strategy.
Once the founding team is determined, the most important thing during a pitch with investors is to establish credibility. You must prove why you are the right people to solve the problem that you have identified. In doing so, make sure to answer three key questions:
- How did you meet and what are your backgrounds? First and foremost, tell us how you met, your educational history and past work experiences. Do you all come from the startup world? Does anyone on the team have experience at a large enterprise? Do you come from a variety of different backgrounds? Based on these past experiences, explain each of the team members’ core skills.
For example, our portfolio company Authomize has three founders, two of whom had owned startups before and one who was coming from the military with no business experience but many transferrable skills. This was key in our understanding of the team and informing how they would allocate positions within the business.
After an initial introduction, detail the distribution of roles and the complementary nature of the team. Who will be the CEO? Who will handle sales and marketing? What about R&D, engineering and customer service? If there are holes in the team’s experience, be upfront about it. We know how important it is to develop a strong team, which is why we provide our entrepreneurs with training in various functions as part of our HR resources.
- Where do you see the company in 3-5 years? Next, detail where you see the business in 3-5 years and, again, why you are the right people to get it there. Tell us how you will adapt to challenges, take advantage of new opportunities and evolve with the ever-changing business landscape. As investors, it’s crucial to understand how you will battle the odds to achieve your desired goals.
- How do you envision the success of the company long-term? Finally, describe your dreams for the business and why you are the best people in the world to solve it. Show us your drive to achieve and succeed.
At the same time, though, stay humble, modest and transparent. Be honest about what you don’t know and why you are seeking an investment. During the pitch, do your best to strike the delicate balance between proving you have the skills necessary while also explaining where and why you need help.
In this business, trust is the ultimate currency and it starts from day one. Similarly to how investors need to develop trust with LPs, entrepreneurs must build trust with us and, vice versa, us with them. It’s a mutual responsibility and joint effort among all those involved. Transparency goes a long way.
The first part of the entrepreneurial narrative is describing the problem you are setting out to solve. The next piece should frame the story around why you are the best team to solve it. From there, you will move into more of the meat of the presentation by discussing the market landscape.
Check back in next week for our next blog in the series: knowing the terrain.
This post is the latest in our Entrepreneur Toolkit series that explores what entrepreneurs need to successfully pitch their idea to investors to secure venture capital.