5 Insights From a Virtual Fireside Chat With a VC July 15th, 2015Venture Capital The recent meeting of the Technology Executives Roundtable at the Atlanta Technology Village featured a video conference with Sunil Nagaraj live from Bessemer Venture Partners. Bessemer is a leading venture capital fund in Silicon Valley – they’ve made investments in Georgia and in a broad range of tech companies. Sunil is originally from the Southeast and is very interested in having other portfolio companies in our region. The virtual fireside chat with Sunil offered a number of insights for entrepreneurs in the Southeast looking to raise capital: 1. It’s all about customers Focus on your customers (or viable prospective customers). You don’t have a business until someone is willing to spend money on your products or services. 2. Get a VC’s portfolio company to become one of your customers There may be no better way to attract the attention of a venture fund than to sell your product to one of their portfolio companies. The fund’s portfolio company can become your greatest evangelist and help to convince the fund to invest in your business. 3. Nail your elevator pitch – and keep nailing it Make sure you can present the mission of your business in a 30-60 second soundbite that highlights the value proposition of the company. Drive home the same points in your presentation, highlighting how you can scale your business with additional capital. 4. Consider your goals before taking money from a strategic investor Raising capital from a strategic investor can be a positive step, but the strategic investor could possibly foreclose other competitors from becoming your customers. Rather than focusing on strategic investors, focus on turning everyone in the market into the customer. 5. Find a partner “champion” within the venture fund It’s important for an entrepreneur to befriend one of the key venture partners who will be your champion. But also remember that before funding, the entire partnership will generally have to approve the deal. It’s a multi-layered sales process that requires the entrepreneur to exercise his or her finest sales skills. Learn more about Bessemer Venture Partners and the Technology Executives Roundtable (TER).