Herzlich writes the Small Business column in Newsday.
Landing a fat venture capital investment is the Holy Grail for many entrepreneurs.
But with venture capitalists typically receiving more than 100 company proposals for every one they invest in, just getting in the door is tricky.
Good timing may help.
If you want to book a meeting with a venture capitalist, avoid suggesting Wednesdays or Thursdays because they tend to overbook on those days, according to new tips from Tempo AI, creator of the Tempo Smart Calendar application. It's best to email between 6 and 8 a.m. And if you call, do it between 5 and 7 p.m.
The tips, from a new infographic on how to book a VC meeting (nwsdy.li/vc) are meant to provide insight into venture capitalists' busy schedules. But landing a meeting takes planning, persistence and, in many cases, an outside introduction.
CONNECTIONS ARE KEY
"In the end, the only proven way to get a meeting with a venture capitalist is through a warm introduction from someone the venture capitalist trusts," says Raj Singh, CEO at Mountain View, California-based Tempo.
Tyler Roye, CEO of Huntington-based eGifter, a gifting technology company, can attest to that. "I can't imagine just picking up the phone and making a cold call," says Roye, whose firm has received a combination of angel and venture capital funding over the past two years.
Roye has connected to VCs through introductions within his network, and has also used LinkedIn as a resource.
"I'll visit their LinkedIn pages and it tells me who I'm connected to that they are also connected to," says Roye, a founder of LaunchPad Huntington, a co-working space designed to nurture startups.
Still, timing can be important, says Singh, adding that the infographic is based on aggregate metadata from VCs who use Tempo's calendar app.
"We thought it would be a fun data point to share," he explains. "The investor segment is one with a lot of mystique."
Tempo found that 72 percent of meetings happen in VC offices, but other top spots favored by VCs in New York are sushi bars, steak houses and Spanish tapas bars.
Even then, it all depends on the VC.
Business owners "should ask the VC what is convenient for them," says Bob Brill, managing partner of Newlight Management in Jericho, which manages $100 million in tech investments. "Usually the initial meeting is at our office."
Brill says he's reluctant to open blind emails for security reasons, but if someone he knows and respects suggests he take a look at a company, he's more apt to meet with them or at the very least take a call.
Landing a meeting is a selling process, like getting a meeting with a new potential customer, explains Brill, who has invested his own personal funds in eGifter.
FACING LONG ODDS
Of 100 proposals, "we'll meet roughly with 10 and invest in one," he says.
But if it's the right investment, VCs will make the time, says Hal Wilson, managing partner of Northwood Ventures in Syosset, which manages a $150 million fund.
"For us, it's a fundamental question of 'Is there merit?' " he notes. He says he looks at such factors as the quality of the management team, and whether it's a distinctive, highly differentiated concept.
As for the timing tips, Wilson says some aspects have merit, such as sending an email in the early morning because mornings are quieter. But he adds, "there's no silver bullet," and a warm introduction always helps.
If you don't know anyone to make an introduction, network.
"You need to get out of the building and get in environments where people are congregating that raise money and where VCs are," notes Roye.
For instance, the Long Island Capital Alliance has quarterly meetings that VCs attend to hear pitches from presenting companies, says Neil Kaufman, a partner at Abrams Fensterman LLP in Lake Success and chairman of Melville-based LICA. Entrepreneurs can attend and network the room.
And if you choose to send an email, make sure it gets to the point in the first two lines, Kaufman says. "Lay out why they'd make a fortune investing in your company," and call them later that day or the next day, he says. "It takes strategy and persistence."