Charlie Crystle writes about startups, startup ecosystems, tech, food systems, and random things.
Friday, April 29, 2011
It's been a busy week out in the Valley--lots of meetings, a missed flight, and random encounters with investors. Throughout the week I've narrowed and refined the pitch and found my sea legs--I'm almost swaggering with confidence (not overly so).
Earlier this week I met with 3 VCs, all of which are now tracking, which means they're intrigued, not saying no, but not whipping out the term sheet just yet.
I've also met with the heads of a number of startups and large-company divisions. This morning I met with the founder of Keyhole (Google Maps)--great guy, and as you usually find here, very smart. It's great to get that kind of exposure and conversation level about your stuff, if only to practice the pitch, though I always learn something.
At the end of next week I hit NYC for investors presentations there.
I added an advisor as well--someone with deep experience in mobile search who now heads a research lab.
This is the true beginning of the formal fundraising process. I've done this 6 times or so before. Typically the process is this:
Intro of some sort
First meeting by phone or in person
Follow up in email thanking for meeting
Follow up when something significant happens--beta release, traction, deals, etc. This is the key post-meeting trigger for future meetings.
Follow-up phone call and request for next meeting.
Next meeting is usually with other partners--gotta be on my game (I am already).
They then make a go, no-go, or track decision. Sometimes it's hard to get a clear indication because there's internal disagreement.
Term sheet. It takes 6-8 weeks to close the deal after the term sheet.
That's the typical process, which can take 2 to 6 months, but there are angels that can write the check and get it done in a day. That's relatively new for the startup world--lots of active, cash-rich angel investors.
In the meantime, our small amount of angel investment moves things along until we get a revenue engine going.
It's important at this time to focus on measurable progress: quality and scalability of the app, UI, and UX, then number of active users, revenue, traffic, press, etc.
This means it's time to clean things up, stabilize, and launch the beta. I want to be code complete within 10 days, testing over the following week, and launching beta within 17-20 days.
Every time I do this it feels like I'm making it up as I go, but this time around I'm really enjoying the process. And the weather--can't beat the weather this week.