A lot of startups would like to get funded by Venture Capital (VC) firms. For them, it’s the sort of support that could help them expand well beyond what bootstrapping would ever achieve.
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Yet, only a small fraction of them ever get this kind of backing. VCs are inundated with tons of applications from startups around the world, so they have to sift through them at a pace. Unless you’re able to catch their attention at the first go, your chances of securing their backing are slim.
Thankfully, many startups that have obtained VC backing are generous enough to share the tips that helped them win investors over. And some VC partners have also spoken about what they look for in a potential investment.
This article brings some of those admonitions together and shows you how to get Venture Capital funding for your business or startup.
If you’d like to learn more about Venture Capital, read our article, What Do You Know About Venture Capital?
Steps To Securing VC Funding
These are the steps you need to take if you’re going to clinch financial support from a VC.
Make Sure Your Proposition Ticks Investor’s Boxes
Investors want to put their money in a venture that has potential. In simple terms, they want something stable, growing fast, and can give them a significant ROI.
Even if your startup has these characteristics, you still need t to be able to demonstrate this to the VCs. So you should have your financial statements at hand, know the market inside-out, and have solid projections for the future that point to rapid growth and returns soon enough.
We are assuming that you already have more than an idea. You have a startup that’s solving problems for a segment of the market that it ultimately wants to target, and is doing well at this. Investors are typically wary of putting their money into ideas; they want something that’s already functioning, and demonstrably viable. Take this seriously.
Understand Your Business, Industry, And Market
In some ways, this is an extension of the first point. One box that investors want their prospects to tick is knowledge of the space they’re playing in. When the time for pitches comes, they will test you on this.
Things you ought to know as a startup founder (or member of the team) include the nature and purpose of your startup, the technical details around operations, and organizational structure.
They want to know that you’re aware of the competition and see if you have an edge over them. They want to be certain that there’s a large market for your product. They expect you to have your customer persona figured out. You should have the latest figures ad projections about your industry at your fingertips.
To put it simply, you have to be involved in your project enough to have covered every important blade of grass on this turf.
Have A Business Plan Ready
Your business plan describes what your startup is and does, your team, the market you’re targeting, competitors, and financial projections. It’s like a roadmap for your enterprise.
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At the start, you won’t be required to produce a thick plan like other regular businesses. VCs usually don’t have the time to peruse those pages. What they want is a summary of the important details—introduction to your startup, market information, and summary financial projections.
A lean business plan that covers the bases may suffice. But make sure there’s a comprehensive document as well, even if it’s for in-house use. If you decide to seek funding from traditional financers (e.g. banks), this may come in handy.
Know What You Need The Funding For
You may want the funding to expand your operations over a broader geographical area, hire more staff, and strengthen your structures. It’s usually a combination of all these items and more. Put them down, and be specific about your descriptions.
They should align with what’s contained in your business plan. Note that any significant discrepancy may cast you as not meticulous—the exact opposite of what investors want to see.
When drawing up your pitch deck, ensure that you communicate the impact the funding will have. Refer to your startup, and also to the people that it’s targeting. And, of course, note the returns that investors stand to benefit from.
Find A Suitable Investor
VCs aren’t all the same. Each has its own modus operandi. You will want to find out what it is, and which ones can meet your needs. Research various VCs and their investments. If you have a shortlist, apply in the manner they prescribe.
Hone in on VCs that have previously invested in a Nigerian or African startup. Such firms will have had some experience with the local terrain, so they’ll understand the Nigerian startup ecosystem better.
Apply to the VCs you have selected via the means they have provided. Regardless of the channel, you’re applying through, make sure you communicate the important points about your startup. Make it brief and impactful.
Securing Venture Capital investment is no mean feat. But it’s doable. Get every step right, perfect your pitch deck, and emphasize the impact you’re making (and can make). Hopefully, you’ll convince the potential investors that your proposition is worth their money.
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