SAI contributor Mark Davis is a venture capitalist at DFJ Gotham. He also writes Get Venture, a blog aimed at helping entrepreneurs trying to raise money from VCs. We’ve previously published Mark’s thoughts on the objective of the first meeting, the importance of knowing your competition, and how not to look like a bozo.
Figuring out who to bring in your first meeting with a VC is very important. You need to make sure that you have brought the members of your leadership team that will help you achieve your objective (which, at the first meeting, is to get another meeting).
It’s important that the people responsible for figuring out the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ are there. The person answering the ‘what’ is usually the visionary who developed the concept. The person addressing the ‘how’ is often the CEO. If not, the CEO should come as well…
It’s frequently the case that the same person is answering the ‘what’ and ‘how’. However, if there is only one person leading the charge it’s worthwhile to bring along the second most senior person (e.g., head of development), as VCs want to learn about your team’s compatibility.
However, bringing too many people can also be problematic. VC teams usually allocate one or two people to a deal in order to spread their available man-hours across a lot of deals. As a result, you will usually only be meeting with 1 or 2 VCs. If you bring 4 or more people to the meeting, this can create an awkward dynamic; it might seem like you are trying to intimidate the VC through numbers (which you won’t), and it dilutes the intimacy of the interaction, limiting your ability to develop the relationship with the VC.
As the business becomes more mature, you will likely feel compelled to bring more people as there is more to talk about. However if you bring too many people in the first meeting, you’re trying to do too much. In sum, you should bring two or three people to the meeting, unless you absolutely, positively need more than that to explain the ‘what’ and ‘how’.