Being a Fintech startup in London is a sweet spot, as you get a lot of exposure to the local financial community and VCs, but US Market with Wall Street is the top of the rock, so when Carlos from Seedcamp suggested us taking part in the trip to the US this year with TRDATA, we didn’t hesitate much.
Although I usually try to avoid group tours, they are definitely much more efficient when the time is limited and you want to learn
as much as you can, which in our case saved us hours of hustling to arrange meetings with top US VCs.
The trip itself was for 2 weeks from New York to Boston to San Francisco and the list of investors and tech companies whom we met looked like this:
Metamorphic, Valar, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Insight, Gotham Ventures, Thomson Reuters, Canaan Partners, General Catalyst, Bessemer Venture Partners, CRV, Flybridge, Michael SKOK, Sigma Prime Ventures, Spark Capital, Masschallenge, Evernote, Homebrew, 500 Start-ups, SoftTech VC, Index Ventures, Pinterest, Stripe, Mattermark, Sequoia, Google / Google Ventures, Lightspeed, Institutional venture partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Facebook, KPCB, DFJ, Khosla Ventures…
Coming to the meetings with a group of fellow Seedcamp founders and having one-by-one pitching sessions sometimes felt like a “Tech Tourism”, but still helped to make a much better understanding of what VCs are looking for in startups and learn from the pitching sessions of others. The format was similar to a Demo Day, with the exception that we visited their offices and got more time with each of them.
To maximize the value of the meetings, we made a research on all VC firms and partners, whom we’re meeting, to understand which companies they previously invested and what is their main focus. We also tried to follow-up on our last interactions with them and share with them the updates.
What we learned is that investors are mostly looking for US-focused businesses and if your company is not set up there yet, you should at least be planning to do this, and move at least one of the founders there.
We found ecosystems in 3 cities very different: Silicon Valley VCs are the most focused on what will be hot in their market, so if you don’t plan to move there, you’d have more chances to get funding on Round B stage, when your traction is extraordinary.
We were not fundraising at the moment, but next time when we will be, we’ll already have an understanding of whom to approach and how. And of course, we’d have more contacts to ask for proper introductions, cause introduction is everything.