Thursday, July 30, 2015

Words of Wisdom for Startup Funding

When Jeanne Sullivan took the stage at the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce “Funding Your Passion + Financing Your Business” event last week to discuss startup funding -  she cut an unassuming profile, at least for a seasoned all-star venture capital professional.

Jeanne offered some practical advice about startup funding, based on her many years of VC experience. She is co-founder of StarVest Partners, a venture fund created in 1998 with $400 million under management

Forbes described Sullivan as “one of the women VCs changing the world – grooming the next generation of female entrepreneurs” and she serves on the board of the NY Venture Capital Association. She’s dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs, in what is still a male dominated world for most tech startups.

She now heads “Sullivan Adventures” as Chief Inspiration Officer. And she certainly inspired the MCC audience with her advice to entrepreneurs seeking funding for their startups:

  • Get the meeting: Identify who wants what you have: sector/stage/geography/you. Never go in cold. Get introductions from law firms, accounting firms – build and use your network.
  • Get the story out of your mouth: Articulate and package the business model. Provide use cases. Use the “eyebrow” test – try to raise the eyebrows, get them intrigued.
  • Tell me about the business of the business: Include the go to market plan, how you will build the business. Lay out the functional skills you will need to hire – as soon as you get funded. Stress your unique advantages.
  • Know your Financials (cold): Gross margin, capital needs of the business, estimated valuation, be a careful curator of other people’s money. Get the smartest outsourced financial person possible to show you the way, bring them to the meeting.
  • Follow up – and negotiate – appropriately: Business wins, key hires, fund raising, if they hear some other investors are coming in they will follow.

The thing that may set Jeanne apart from many others in VC community is her approachability. Talking to many NYC-based VCs makes one feels like being in the beholden presence of royalty.

Jeanne offered her e-mail to the audience at the end of her remarks, encouraging people to reach out her. She actually stayed around during the reception following the formal event remarks, and made the time to talk to everyone that approached her.

When asked why she has such passion for the venture capital world, she replied:

Entrepreneurism is driving the economy and fulfills passion and prosperity.  What good are all my connections and experience unless I leverage my network and knowledge and help support the efforts of others.

Jeanne’s Twitter stream is well worth following @gianna212.

And she delivered a thoughtful and funny talk at the recent TEDx Barnard College event entitled “Master the Minefield – Dealing with Bullies, Bozos and Buffoons.”

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Original Blog Post by PM+CO

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