Get a few early VC judges and use their firm names as you recruit other VCs and startups. (sample invitation)
Target # of Judges: 6 all-day + 3 morning-only. This will give you 3 judges in each due diligence room in the morning and plenty (6) for the partner meetings in the afternoon, which can get crowded with too many judges in the Zoom room.
Morning-Only Judges: Use this option to recruit a few higher profile VCs who otherwise could not afford to spend the whole day at VCIC. We don’t need as many judges in the afternoon.
Send out an early “Save the Date”. It is hard to get commitments early, but you should not wait to get the word out. A “save the date” is a non-intrusive way to announce the event, and you might get lucky and…
Get a Couple of Early Commitments. (sample judge invitation) Having a couple of early names helps get other VCs and recruit entrepreneurs. Luckily, we find that judges are generally amenable to committing early (unlike entrepreneurs, who expect to be funded any day).
VCs only? Your competing teams are expecting venture capitalists; so most of your judges should be active institutional investors. Angel investors, serial entrepreneurs, retired VCs, accelerator coaches, etc., are all OK to have on the panel after you have plenty of VCs.
Invite judges from past events. Take a look at past events in your region and invite some of those judges.
Ask for Referrals. Ask committed judges if they can recommend a colleague who would enjoy this exercise.
Needed All Day? No! Starting in 2021, judges will vote after each round, and you need more judges in the morning than the afternoon.
How About Lawyers or Bankers? Service providers (lawyers, accountants, bankers etc.) are not preferred, but may be invited to judge or observe if they are sponsoring the event. Be careful not to compromise the integrity of the event by allowing an inappropriate judge.