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Congrats on the traction!
One of the biggest things to remember in these kinds of situations is that the person who cares less wins.
VCs understand power and leverage. If you're a starving startup struggling to survive, you need them more than they need you. But if you've built a capital efficient, anti-fragile startup that can live without outside money and only considering VC because it may get you to success faster, then they need you more than you need them.
The framework many venture investors use in evaluating the potential of a startup is Market, Team, Product.
1. Is this a massive, worthwhile market?
2. Is this the right team to create this market?
3. Is their product a massive value creator that this market badly wants and needs?
There's also this odd dichotomy between the benefit of being honest and transparent, and the need to kind of have a humble swagger that lets you enter any conversation confident that "I know this market and the inevitability of our vision. Get on board or get the fuck out of the way."
That being said, it's important to have evidence complimenting your conviction. Early traction suggesting market pull like users, revenue, or LOIs is valuable.
If you don't have that, look at investor calls as an opportunity to have a conversation with someone about why, of all the things in the world you could do, this is what you're spending your time on and why they should too.
Optimism, patience, and passion are contagious. But remember that most venture funds have an active investment period of 3-5 years and a 10 year return window.
So do your homework on the firms:
Who are they? What are they passionate about? What have they invested in? What is their current IRR? Why is your startup the perfect fit for their portfolio and investment thesis?
By the nature of those dynamics, raising venture capital -- if you're not a rock star founder yet -- is a game of odds. There could be all kinds of random or bureaucratic reasons a startup isn't a right fit for a venture firm that have nothing to do with the potential of the startup.
So your goal in meeting with investors should be to understand what their priorities are and how congruent they are with yours. (Ideally you'll do your homework ahead of time and will know those answers already... which is why you're getting on a call with them in the first place.)
If you want to run a profitable business that helps you live a good life while enjoying your work, then venture may not be for you.
If you're confident you're working on the most important problem you've ever encountered and many people don't see it which is why it's such a huge opportunity, then venture may be the right fit.
Lastly, there are tons of firms with plenty of dry powder -- capital they need to invest before their investment window closes -- and many are forced to operate via zoom due to the pandemic. So you don't have to jump on a plane and meet them at their office and on their own term.
The zoom screen has become a great equalizer for founders and the same way they can set up 10 founder calls in a day, you can now at that same time schedule 10 investor calls where they effectively have to compete with each for deals too.
Also, intros are always helpful. But if you don't have the network or connections, the power of personalized cold emails is still incredibly understated.
There may never have been a better time to raise meaningful capital for a startup than today.
Congrats again on all your progress and best of luck!