Recruiting startups is often the hardest part! 

Click here for a Sample Startup Invitation

Your VCs are Your #1 Draw: It is important to understand that most startups are only willing to come for one thing: access to your VCs. Get a few VCs on board early and use their names as you recruit startups.

Play the Waiting Game: The best startups cannot commit early. It’s not their fault. Be patient. Resist the urge to book startups early if they really aren’t a great fit. You might leave one slot for the week prior to the event. It’s stressful for organizers, but the best deals often will not commit until the week of.

Time Commitment: Founders must commit to a full morning, 8:30 a.m. to noon. They are encouraged to stick around for lunch with the investors.

Variety is Good. Ideally, your presenters will be from different sectors and will have different funding needs. At finals, teams will definitely be exposed to a variety of deals. Be careful not to get someone too early, though. Those tend to be angel rather than VC deals.

How About Student Plans? NO! It is too easy for teams to dismiss a student plan as unfundable because the students are not 100% committed yet. There are exceptions to this rule, but rarely.

Helpful Tips

  • Get help from your students who have had internships at VC or angel firms.
  • If you ask a VC to refer a deal, phrase it as “something interesting that you passed on.” They often don’t want to give you live deals.
  • Be respectful, but don’t beg. You need their help, but you also have something great to offer.
  • Cast a wide net by email, newsletter, web, etc., to direct entrepreneurs to the website where they may “apply.”
  • Do not accept non-venture-backable startup early just because you are nervous!
  • It is difficult to get commitments more than a few weeks in advance. You often need to wait until the event is just a couple of weeks away, which can be nerve wracking, but yields the best startups.
  • Regional accelerators and venture conferences are great sources. Invite their presenters to practice at your VCIC.

What You’ll Need From Them

In addition to their in-person participation, which includes a 10-minute pitch and live due diligence at the event, we also need an extended leave-behind deck several days before the event to send to teams. Here is some language you can share with founders:

  • An extended “leave-behind” deck: sometimes called the “investor deck.” This should not be the same as the tight 10-minute pitch you give at the event.
  • Financial projections: The more detail, the better, but high level projections at the least. Feel free to doctor the numbers if you are concerned about releasing the real thing (this can be summarized on a slide in the pitch deck or a separate spreadsheet file).
  • An equity ask: including the funding requested and your valuation expectations (this can be on a slide in the pitch deck).
    • If you are currently raising a convertible note or a SAFE, please switch to an equity round for the purposes of this competition.
    • This will greatly increase  your probability of receiving term sheets, and it will make your due diligence sessions more targeted and productive.
  • Anything else: if you have anything that would help a VC firm condense their due diligence into 36 hours, please include it! Students will receive your materials at 5PM two days prior to the event. The more you give them, the less they need to find on their own. This could include: product demo videos, market and/or report(s), customer reviews, testimonials, letters of intent, etc.