: Follow up personally.Couder says that in his experience, a CEO usually comes in with his management team and makes apresentation, and then they all troop out together.His advice: Don't leave it at that. Follow up personally. Remember you're dealing with people, notautomatons."Try to get some one-on-one time with the partner. Call back later for a person-to-person chat. And don'thave your CFO do it. Do it yourself."Beyond the personality issues, what advice does he have on drawing up your business plans and makingyour actual pitch?
: Bring along printed copies of your plan.This is a basic courtesy that many presenters forget. After you find the right firm and get an audience with the perfect partner, you don't want him to sit theretaking notes on his laptop the whole time. You want him to pay attention and make eye contact.This tip is important enough that Sofinnova put it on their website:"Be sure to bring paper copies of your slides, and hand them out to us when you present. We'll be able tomake notes on the copies, and spend more time understanding your vision... and less time writing."
: Spin your story to fit today's hot markets.Couder says as a CEO he always tried to be consistent and tell the same story to both the customer andthe VC. Today, he might do it differently."You may have to position the company in a somewhat different way for the VC than you position it for thecustomer. You have to consider what subjects are hot at a given point of time."What's hot right now?"Wireless, content management, search, XML, security. All of that is quite hot," he says. If there's a wayto hit any of the current hot buttons in your presentation, do it.This isn't so dumb. Many journalists and analysts will consider your firm hot news if it plays to some bigindustry trends.
: Keep it simple, and avoid hype.Couder admits he's seen a lot of presentations that could have been better.But the "stellar jobs" he has seen all have something in common: "The story is always very simple, andthe proof is in the achievement and results, rather than the talk."So forget the hype, the superlatives, and the wishful thinking. Build your case with believable facts andfigures, quotes from analysts, and stories from customers.Of all people the people you'll meet in your business life, VCs have heard too many pitches to be fooledby unsubstantiated claims.
: Go big or go home."Most CEOs at the startup stage don't care about going big. They just want to get the company to breakeven," Couder says.But VCs are looking for the next Google."So that's something to keep in mind: How can you demonstrate that you can build a large business?" If you don't think big enough, you may lose their interest.
: But size your market carefully.OK, but can people actually dream too big? "Oh yes, we see quite a few of those," he chuckles."I often find a company will quote a very big number in terms of a market, but what they address isactually only a tiny portion of that market. And often their portion is very poorly defined and assessed."VCs want to know how you can direct your technology into different areas of that marketplace as yougrow. It's all part of testing whether you truly understand your market and have a vision for growing thebusiness to the scope that interests them.
: Never say you have no competition. Another frequent failing in the plans Couder sees is not scoping out the competition."What is most astonishing to me is that CEOs have not done their homework on the competition. People