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How to Get the Attention of Venture Capitalist When You Don’t Know a Soul

Charlie Shrem got creative when his business was growing and he needed funds quickly—or he’d have to turn away business. While SBA loans through The Angel Fund and crowdfunding on sites like Kickstarter.com are great fits for some businesses, tech startups often look to venture capitalists. Below, Charlie shares advice on how to find where the VCs are lurking.

 

By Charlie Shrem, CEO, BitInstant.com

We’re in the middle of an internet startup bubble, with a lot more venture capitalist money available than there usually is—investors don’t want to put their money elsewhere. Instead of buying and reselling bonds, they are are buying and reselling internet startups. The money is available right now, and this could end anytime.

Be creative.

But, even though VCs are investing, there also isn’t a lack of startups who want the money. Getting their attention is all about being super creative. If there was one route, everyone would do it. During the Tech Stars event, I mentioned that a venture capitalist from Japan called me after he saw me on an Internet TV Show. I had been a guest on The Bitcoin Show, hosted by Bruce Wagner. Towards the end of my hour-long interview, Bruce asked me if there’s anything else I’d like to add, and I took the opportunity to say, to whoever was watching (the Bitcoin Show receives about 10,000 views an episode), that I was looking for funds. It worked.

Relentless networking.

You have to go out and keep meeting people and networking. Find out everything that’s going on in the tech world and attend those events. Blogs like Betabeat.com and Gawker.com, which cater to New Yorkers, will keep you posted on tech events going on in the area. NY Tech Meetup and NJ Tech Meetup also have frequent events where you’ll meet others in the industry. If you see that there’s going to be an upcoming business panel, like the Tech Stars event, if you’re a good speaker with experiences to share, it’s worth it to become a sponsor of the event (it might cost about $1,000) so you can get a seat on the panel. The hosts will do the marketing, and you’ll have an opportunity to get an interested audience to hear all about you. If you’re going to be on a panel, get your whole company to attend and network. There are often venture capitalists at these events.

Drink coffee.

There is no one traditional way of finding your VC. Everyone knows that if you want to meet Ted Wilson, a top VC and head of Union Square Ventures, you should hang out in the Starbucks in the Flatiron district. Drink a lot of coffee, and one day, you’ll bump into him. (Have your elevator pitch ready.)

The “Right One.”

Finding a venture capitalist is kind of like finding a girlfriend or a really cool friend. You’ll have to go to dozens of meetings, lunches, coffees, and network until you find that person who shares your vision. You and your VC have to get along and be able to share ideas. If you meet with 200 people and you close the deal with one, that’s great odds. If you are passionate, you will get them.

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