David Hornik has worked with technology startups throughout the software sector for over a decade. Since 2000, David has been with August Capital in San Francisco and has worked with companies such as Technorati, StumbleUpon, Six Apart, and PayCycle. His educational background includes a degree in Computer Music from Stanford University, an M.Phil in Criminology from Cambridge University and a degree from Harvard Law. He is currently a lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and at Harvard Law school. As one of the first venture capitalists to start blogging and podcasting, David is helping entrepreneurs better understand how to go about getting funding and really bringing more transparency to the overall process . One thing he pointed out is that not all businesses are suited for venture capital funding. It really depends on the business but if your business is the type of business that would benefit from VC money, he said that there are some key elements that he likes to see in a when a company is making their pitch for funding:
- Credibility. He says that it is critical that the business owners understand their business and their entire industry. Having expertise in whatever you are building makes you a more attractive candidate to VCs.
- Passion. This is also paramount. If an entrepreneur is passionate about what he or she is doing, they are more likely to succeed.
- Good business model. The business has to be something that people want and that is sustainable.
- Transfer the excitement. VCs are realists. They look at everything in very practical terms so the key to a successful pitch is not only convincing them that your business idea is a solid one but also getting them excited about the product or service. Let them try or experience it for themselves and you’ll have a better chance than if you just have a good business model.
Our second guest, Jeff Hilimire, is from Atlanta and is a founding partner of Shotput Ventures, a technology startup accelerator fund that focuses on capital-light web services companies and assists in the conception phase. Shotput Ventures is an annual fund that will work with eight companies per year to help get them through the initial phase of development so they can hopefully go on to secure more funding and continue to grow. An entrepreneur himself, Jeff was the co-founder of Spunlogic and is now working with Engauge which acquired Spunlogic in 2008. With Shotput, Jeff is able to serve as a mentor and advisor (along with eight other partners) to these startups who will receive anywhere between $15-$25K in funding to help them get their ideas off the ground. He couldn’t tell us much about the companies but by the end of the summer, we should be hearing about some of them when they will present their ideas to both East and West Coast VCs. If you would like to learn more about Shotput Ventures, check out their website and follow Jeff on Twitter or via his website.
A big thank you to both our guests this week! We all learned a lot.