Why do venture capitalists say no? And how do you get them to say yes?

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JASON LEMKIN

Here’s the thing: most VCs, at least, most early VCs … know if they want to invest mid-way through the first meeting.

Not for sure, but they’ve made a tentative conclusion they want to do the deal before that first meeting ends. Assuming a few things they suspect to be true, turn out to be true.

Why?

Despite the 100–1000 pitches a VC might see / read / Zoom each year, only a handful will meet his or her specific bar and scenarios. And this bar, this sweet spot, can be very different for various VCs.

A lot more startups, however, will almost meet this bar. They will be in the next ring out. And here, maybe VCs should say No, but they often don’t. Not immediately, at least.

So if you hear No, well, great, so be it.

And if you hear Yes fast, or even, if you just sense it, it’s probably because you are in the handful (5–15) of the most interesting investment candidates the VC meets that year.

And if you are almost one of those 5–15?

Well, VCs drag their feet here a bit. It’s not always on purpose, and it’s not always to be non responsive or to maintain “optionality”.

They just would like to see more. More that would bring the startup into the inner circle of candidates, from the circle one rung out. But the more isn’t there. At least not today.

So if you don’t get follow-up from a VC, usually, that’s a sign. You usually don’t even need to follow up yourself, at least, not much more than a check-in email a few days later.

But if the VC says you are close … if there is real follow-up, but the deal never quite happens … don’t take it personally. Instead, keep her in the loop. She may invest in 3–13 months down the road.

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Published on August 9, 2017
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