How do I find investors?
July 4, 2006 2:52 PM   Subscribe

How do I find investors to pitch my startup plan to?

I'm in Vancouver. Guy Kawasaki says your investors are going to be found within a two hour drive from your location. I've got a killer business plan. How do I get it out there?
posted by Turtles all the way down to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Networking events. Also, googling "vancouver angels" got me several promising hits.
posted by GuyZero at 3:05 PM on July 4, 2006

Thanks b1tr0t. At the risk of portraying myself as a total idiot I'll reframe my question: how do I find the technology, angel and VC groups with public meetings? The newspaper? Craigslist? Somewhere else?
posted by Turtles all the way down at 3:12 PM on July 4, 2006

Oh...GuyZero's link looks promising. When did this "Google" thing appear on the internet?
posted by Turtles all the way down at 3:13 PM on July 4, 2006

From your tags, it sounds like you're thinking software startup. My experience (limited as it is) is with web software startups, so my advice's utility may vary if you're thinking about a different kind of software.

Investors don't want business plans. They want proof that you are worth investing in. This can come in lots of different forms. For, say, retail business, this is often in the form of a business plan because business plans effectively capture what an investor needs to be informed about your odds of success at running a retail business.

For software, a business plan may not be interesting to an investor. It's easy to talk about making an awesome product that people use, but it's a hell of a lot harder to make that product and find people to use it. If you can do that before you start looking for investors, they will look at you much more favorably. Indeed, I'm aware of companies who got funding without a business plan at all, because they had already launched a product and proven their abilities as a team.

So, my advice to you is to let your killer business plan simmer. If you've got a day job, spend your nights and weekends writing code like a fiend, sketching out a proof of concept version of your product. This can be either a small, core bit of functionality, or maybe a really rough large scale prototype. Either way, every hour you put into making your product reduces risk for investors, which all investors like. You'll also learn a hell of a lot about what your product actually is that will make your presentations to investors significantly better. If you can get users of your product prior to presenting to investors, that's killer, and you should definitely do so.

Caveat: there is one group I know of that will fund very early stage stuff: Paul Graham's ycombinator. I have personal experience with this program, so I have some biases about it.

Also: Ideas above lifted liberally from various other people in this area. I'd recommend checking out the 37signals Signal vs. Noise blog for their attitudes about early launching of web software, interacting with users, and designing software. One of their (many) insights is that designing under constraints (time, money, resources) promotes creativity, which is why they recommend developing on nights and weekends: if you have limited time, you dick around on stupid features less.
posted by heresiarch at 3:16 PM on July 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

God I am such a retard. But if anyone wants to invest I think I've been too focussed for the past month on the details of the business plan and have thus managed to overlook the obvious. Thanks all.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 3:18 PM on July 4, 2006

Try This
posted by Good Brain at 3:18 PM on July 4, 2006

Awesome heseriarch--thanks.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 3:19 PM on July 4, 2006

Good Brain--thanks, the Vancouver Enterprise Forum is worth revisiting. I've been a bit turned off by them, for the following reason: a former partner and I were looking for investment about 6 years ago, and went to their functions. That was dotcom bubble time, and the flavour of the month was innovative websites like "Buy your friend a virtual beer over the virtual internet"; it was difficult to interest anyone in a software startup. Perhaps it's time to give it another look.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 3:34 PM on July 4, 2006

Vancouver Enterprise Forum
Angel Forum
Telus New Ventures business plan competition (get mentoring, refine the business plan, make presentations in front of angels, bankers and investors - a three-month process that costs $50 to join, iirc)

there are fewer resources now than there were a few years ago, I still rue the demise of the Advanced Systems Institute, which was merged into a new organization that has a different mandate.

You might also want to sign up for the newsletters of the BC Technology Industries Association, they will list events that bring entrepreneurs and angels together. If you would like to expand your horizons a bit, there is a similar organization in Seattle, and one in Victoria (VIATEC) as well

send me an email, I may have some additional resources for you
posted by seawallrunner at 4:15 PM on July 4, 2006

Do you have an accountant? Does he/she have any ideas? My accountant is regularly arranging pitches for his clients.
posted by londongeezer at 4:40 PM on July 4, 2006

I've raised money a few times and failed at raising money 10s of times. I'm in SV (in fact I play hockey with Guy Kawasaki :) ) - there is ample capital around here, so I'm not sure how it applies to Vancouver. My advice, which is far from sage is :

- Quality VCs typically invest in people not ideas. If you don't have some operational experience in making someone else's plan successful it's going to be hard to hit a homerun with your idea out of the gate. Not impossible, but hard.

- It's often easy to get focused on raising money as the goal, rather than building a succesful business. The further you can take your plan without raising money, the better off you will be. The less you need VC capital the easier it is to get - just like a home loan :)

Good luck! There is lots of money out there again.
posted by ill3 at 9:10 PM on July 4, 2006

I heard a pitch for Dragon's Den on CBC radio this morning and thought of this question. Pitch AND get on TV!
posted by mikel at 7:27 AM on July 5, 2006

Oh - hurry, the auditions in Vancouver are this Friday and Saturday.
posted by mikel at 7:28 AM on July 5, 2006

heresiarch's answer is excellent. VC firms generally aren't interested in plain ideas, unless you've already started successful companies. Even for a seed-stage VC firm, you want a working prototype.

By the way, a couple good sites:

-Noam Wasserman's "Founder Frustrations" blog
-Paul Graham's blog

Good luck!
posted by lunchbox at 8:00 AM on July 5, 2006

By the way, are you _absolutely sure_ you need a VC's heavy hand in this? Remember, they will take a nice cut of your profits if you ever make money.
posted by lunchbox at 8:10 AM on July 5, 2006

VCs will rarely, if ever, take a cut of profits. They don't want dividends, they want equity growth. If you compnay every goes public or is sold, they'll take a large chunk of that. Plus they'll sit on your board and tell you how to run your company. But strictly speaking, they don't want your profits.
posted by GuyZero at 10:16 AM on July 5, 2006

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