What do VCs look for in a startup? Technology? Passion? Team? Attitude?

I spoke to few VCs after their interaction with startups@ Proto, and here are a couple of candid feedbacks/observations I heard from VCs:

  • VCs are looking for complimentary skills in the startup team – it’s great to have hard core techies/geeks in the founding team, but startups should also realize that they need to have people who are good at marketing/sales/closing deals/running operations etc. What’s most important is startups to acknowledge this and plan for the same. VCs may not expect you to know marketing, but they do expect you to market your product/services.
  • During your ‘elevator pitch’, make sure that you know what you are saying. Know your USP, don’t throw statements like “we can develop this feature in 1 month.. scaling is not at all a problem” – Basically, if you can get everything right – what’s stopping you from kicking ass? Why are you reading this post then?
  • Listen, listen and listen: You might think VCs are a snobbish crowd (because of their American accent!:)), and have no sense of understanding of the new web world. But at the end of the day, do realize that they too operate under certain constraints and are governed by few guiding principles of their organization. So, listen to what they want you to do. VCs look for people with whom they can talk, at the end of the day relationship building is very important and the easiest way to build good relationship is to keep your mouth shut.
  • Articulate: By saying articulate, I don’t mean go back to english classes,but atleast answer a few basic questions in precise/simple/clear words (you wanna call it jargon!). If you are finding it difficult to answer basic questions like why will somebody use your product? Why do you think you have a differentiator? How do you define success criteria of the product? etc., your chances are bleak.
    If you can’t explain to a VC in 100 words (or in few minutes), how can you explain the product to your customers?
  • And of course, you are free to ignore all of the above. There are people who haven’t raised funding (like Vembu of Zoho) all of their entrepreneurial life. So, decide what’s best for yourself.

These are views from an outsider – who is neither a VC, nor an entrepreneur. But a keen observer.

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