Before Lakshmi Balachandra entered academia, she spent a few years working for two venture capital firms, where she routinely witnessed a phenomenon that mystified her. The VCs would receive a business plan from an entrepreneur, read it, and get excited. They’d do some research on the industry, and their enthusiasm would grow. So they’d invite the company founder in for a formal pitch meeting—and by the end of it they’d have absolutely no interest in making an investment. Why did a proposal that looked so promising on paper become a nonstarter when the person behind the plan actually pitched it? “That’s what led me to pursue a PhD,” says Balachandra, now an assistant professor at Babson College. “I wanted to break down and study the interaction between the VC and the entrepreneur.”
Wow, I can’t believe just over a month ago I quit my job. I knew it was time.
Since then, I’ve been focused on raising money for my new startup company. That has meant a lot of travel time. I’ve been flying back and forth between the east and west coasts, pitching my startup to VCs.
It’s remarkably hard to get VCs to take a meeting with you, especially if you’re hoping to meet with top-tier investors. Which is kind of ironic, since their whole job is to meet with entrepreneurs.
So how to you connect with VCs in the first place? Here are the best and worst ways to do it.
An innovative idea. Funding. Hype. Positive press. Kick-ass leadership, and a talented technical team. All of these things are vital for startup success. But they don’t guarantee it.
There are lots of companies that looked promising, but ultimately collapsed under the weight of their own aspirations, or because they lacked a decent business model.
Hoping to serve as a memorial to these late companies is the Startup Graveyard. Scroll through it and you’ll see some names you’ll recognize, like RDIO, 99dresses, Exec, and Secret.
Click through, and Startup Graveyard gives you a bit of biographical information about the company, like what it did, how much it raised, its competitors, and who founded it.
It’ll also give you a list of reasons why the company ultimately failed, taken directly from the founders themselves. No conjecture, and you learn hard lessons without having to pore through countless Medium posts.