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Why will VCs that loved the first meeting not return my subsequent calls & emails?

I have raised a lot of venture money over the years as CFO of a number of startups. A lot. It never ceases to amaze me when a VC who has taken a first meeting, professes serious interest, and requests you follow-up with them, subsequently goes completely and utterly silent. Like forever. What's up with that? We're not stalkers. We were duly introduced by an early investor, a board member or a service provider or the like, do our pitch, and the VC responds positively at the meeting. Going so far as to tell you they want to meet again next week or, the much weaker, "we'll discuss this among the partners and get back with next steps." Then they leave you totally hanging.

Do I need to send flowers? What is going on here? We're all adults (or maybe they're not). If you don't like our pitch just tell us. We're meeting with the guys next door and down the street anyway and you know that's true for 100% of the companies that come through your door. But don't tell me you like the pitch and that I should send over X, Y, and Z, and we'll follow-up with another call/meeting next week, and then just go silent.

Any suggestions as to how I can overcome the "don't call me even though I said 'call me' syndrome"?

Answers

Robert Honeyman
Title: CFO
Company: Advanced Predictive Analytics
(CFO, Advanced Predictive Analytics) |

Unfortunately, a large percentage of the world is made up of folks with social skills that don't quite meet Ms. Manners' standards. It's remarkable that so many wound up with positions of influence at VCs!

I don't have a surefire way of forcing louts to behave themselves. However, here's something you may want to experiment with. When you've finished your presentation, take control and make a statement to the effect that we're all adults, we all have very busy lives and no one wants to waste anyone else's time. If you like what you've just seen, let's set up a firm follow up. If you don't, tell me. I won't bite and I won't cry. I only want one commitment right now: you'll answer my next call even if only to tell me that there's no interest.

There are few instances where that would backfire. I think there are far more where it would impress how serious and directed you are.

We've used that in the past, always resulting in better behavior.

Topic Expert
Kent Thomas
Title: Founder
Company: Advanced CFO Solutions
(Founder, Advanced CFO Solutions) |

I like Robert's advice and echo it. Given that you did not take that approach, I suggest that you ask them for honest feedback now so that you don't become an annoyance as you try to follow up. It is always best for you to be honest with them and you have every reason to expect them to behave the same way. If they continue to ignore you - move on and stop wasting your time. In the future, take Robert's advice as you complete presentations & discussions with future potential investors.

Topic Expert
Simon Westbrook
Title: CFO
Company: Aargo Inc.
( CFO, Aargo Inc.) |

They review hundreds of presentations every year and need only to accept a very limited number for investment, hence the quality and relevance of those they have seen is continually changing. I can see that the cumulative time spent responding can add up, and the potential value of not saying no to marginal opportunities can be of some value to them, even if unhelpful to you.
Console yourself with the fact that (I) you had a chance to pitch for investment, and (ii) you learned something from the process. And keep trying. There will be other opportunities!

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