I get cold emails and LinkedIn requests from startup founders all the time. As a smaller VC group, I appreciate the inbound interest. But here’s a big piece of advice for any founder looking to meet with a VC that they don’t already know — do your homework before reaching out and make the ask realistic.

Most VCs have clear websites that share their investment criteria. I know we do. VCs are usually happy to share with the world what sectors they invest in, what stage companies they look for, which geographies they focus on, and much more. Even if this information is not readily available on the website from a venture firm, you can easily do a quick Google search and check out the other deals they have invested in. Do your homework before cold reaching out to a VC. Make sure your company is in their sweet spot or at least adjacent. If not, you are wasting your time and theirs.

Now the only exception to this is stage. Maybe a VC invests in Series A deals and beyond, but your company is squarely in their area of expertise. It is OK to reach out earlier to those types of firms but make the ask realistic. If a company says they invest in Series A companies, then that usually means at least $1MM annual revenue, often more. If you are very early stage, then don’t even bother to pitch them on investing in your company at this time. Instead, ask for something that makes more sense, like an introductory call so they can track you for the future. Look to open the line of communication and then definitely don’t get on the phone and start a hard pitch to get an investment.

And please, please if a VC shares their criteria with you and you don’t meet what they are looking for, don’t jump into a big impassioned plea for them to make an exception. That is not a good way to communicate, and it just shows that you’re not listening. Be respectful of people’s investment criteria. If you do, VCs will pay attention to your company and you’ll be set up well for the future.

Thanks for reading today’s post, hopefully this discussion helps you focus your fundraising efforts in the right direction.

Advice for startup founders on strategy, growth, and capital raising. #FounderCoach