At this frank discussion, moderated by Amanda Moskowitz of Stacklist, guest speakers were Susan Lyne (BBG Ventures), Mark Ghermezian (Gynge & m]x[v Capital) and Charlie O’Donnell (Brooklyn Bridge Ventures).

One key take-away was that VCs are serious about their focus. BBG is for female founders. MXV is centered on cloud services. Brooklyn Bridge is pre-seed and seed (earlier than the other two), and especially open to diverse founders from underserved communities.

Some want to be contacted on LinkedIn, others via their website, and a few want direct personal introductions. One of these VCs said they “love” referrals from CEOs of their prior investments, while another fretted that his portfolio CEOs often make terrible recommendations.

Top take-away messages:

  1. it’s essential to hit the streets – expect to pitch 50+ firms to get an offer
  2. do your homework by reading everything you can about a VC before approaching them
  3. listen carefully to their preferred contact methods and focus on VCs who you truly match
  4. important you have good personal chemistry, because it’s going to be a 7-9 year relationship (statistically)
  5. if they say “no”, try to find out why (don’t argue, just listen. you won’t change their mind but the feedback could be valuable, especially if multiple VCs say the same thing).
VCs Susan Lyne, Mark Ghermezian, and Charlie O’Donnell