A Day in the Life of a VC Investor
With VC investor William Crowder.
An inside look into the typical day of a VC funder. William Crowder, Lead Investor at the Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund, shares his best advice for meeting with a VC, perfecting the pitch, and why diversity is so important for entrepreneurship.
A TYPICAL DAY AT COMCAST VENTURES…
Involves lots of meetings with interesting companies, fascinating people, and a trip on an Amtrak train. I block off several hours each day to meet or do calls with companies seeking new capital. These are typically rapid-fire meetings. The other block of time is allocated to spend time with existing portfolio companies to help with fundraising, strategy, and recruiting. These meetings are usually longer, and much more detailed in order to get a full appreciation of what each company needs at the moment and how we can be helpful to them. The remainder of the day involves various interactions with our investment team, other investors, networking with VC colleagues, and possibly finding something to eat somewhere in between.
MY ADVICE FOR EVALUATING THE RIGHT TYPE OF FUNDING FOR YOUR BUSINESS…
First and foremost you must understand why you’re in business. Is the purpose to enhance your quality of life, achieve a modest level of success, or to accomplish something on an exceedingly large scale? You have to also understand the inherent qualities of your type of company. Every company has its own profile and some require capital from venture capitalists, while others need minimal outside investment and thus can avoid that process altogether.
TOP QUALITIES I LOOK FOR IN THE ENTREPRENEURS I INVEST IN…
Since I am such an early investor in the timeline for the company, I am most concerned about understanding the people I’ll be working with post-investment. I hope they’re smart and insightful about the particular problem they want to solve. I want to know that they’re coachable, but also determined to succeed regardless of the unforeseen challenges that will inevitably make an appearance. I’m very curious to know what life events and experiences have impacted the founders’ perspectives and viewpoints about building their company, what they want to accomplish, and how they see it all coming together.
BEFORE MEETING WITH A VC ENTREPRENEURS SHOULD…
Do their homework on the investor and the fund they represent. Have an understanding of their investment thesis and the types of deals they are currently involved with. Make sure you have the bases for small talk already covered so that you can efficiently move beyond that and focus more on the star of the meeting, namely you and your company.
THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ENTREPRENEURS HAVE ABOUT VC…
Is that there is a grand conspiracy amongst venture capitalists to steal your idea, your company, and your money. Trust me, if that was the case, the word would get out quickly and we wouldn’t be able to stay in business!
5 TIPS FOR PITCHING YOUR BUSINESS…
- Be concise and efficient in the dialogue
- Know your stuff (numbers, competition, market conditions)
- Understand how your business works (revenue model – real or hoped for)
- Anticipate the typical questions
- Design matters (beautifully designed slides can be game-changers for storytelling)
HOW TO BEST PREPARE WHEN MEETING WITH POTENTIAL INVESTORS…
Rehearse your pitch so that you don’t need to look at the slides. Do not rehearse so much that the presentation no longer sounds natural. The meeting should be much more of a dialogue instead of a one-way conversation.
MY LOVE FOR TECHNOLOGY BEGAN WHEN…
I was 12 and was introduced to computers and BASIC programming. I have been hooked ever since, mesmerized by the power of software and hardware to simulate real-life.
NON-TECHNICAL ENTREPRENEURS CAN BEGIN TO LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY BY…
Surrounding themselves with people who are more naturally tech savvy. If you can find ways to effectively communicate and see the world through the eyes of technologists, then you have an enormous personal competitive advantage. This sounds easy but it is perhaps one of the most difficult skills for a modern day entrepreneur to acquire and cultivate.
3 TECHNOLOGY TRENDS THAT WILL SHAPE THE NEXT 5 YEARS…
- Democratization of technology across the entire economic landscape. We will experience a true realization of the disruptive potential that results from having a more diverse of group of entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, and consumers.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning will spawn a new wave of innovation and product development that we haven’t seen previously.
- Cybersecurity will become a household name. Everyone will have direct contact with the power of technology when deployed for nefarious purposes.
TOP 3 RESOURCES FOR ENTREPRENEURS THAT WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT VC…
- The archives of Fred Wilson.
- Check out The Full Ratchet podcast.
- Grab a copy of Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson
THE BEST ADVICE I HAVE EVER RECEIVED…
My late maternal grandfather told me to never let anyone stop me from achieving my dreams. Keep working hard and stay focused. Knowing he personified those words made them real to me and they’ve never left my memory bank.
DIVERSITY IS IMPORTANT IN TECHNOLOGY & ENTREPRENEURSHIP BECAUSE…
True innovation knows no geographic boundary, area code, or zip code. Oftentimes it is demonstrated by those that become acute sufferers of particular problems – that the majority rarely experiences. They bring a new perspective about problem solving and solution generation that others cannot replicate, because they don’t see life through the same lens or experience it from the same perspective. The more their entrepreneurial voices are heard, the greater our opportunity to take quantum leaps forward and impact larger swaths of the populations around the world.
MY PHILOSOPHY ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS…
It’s not for everyone but for the crazy ones willing to pursue it…professionally speaking, there is no more exhilarating, excruciating, terrifying, and liberating experience. Regardless of the outcome, when you stimulate all of your senses at once, it’s the best way to figure out if you’re really alive.
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