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.
What About a Business Plan or a Leave-Behind Deck? This is tricky these days. Many great startups have no real business plan. However, our student teams will be severely time constrained and need a jump start on their due diligence. If you come across a great startup, you can forego the traditional “plan” as long as they have a very robust pitch deck, including financials. You should also ask if they have any supporting documentation, like market research, competitive landscape, etc.
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.
Don’t Forget to Tailor the Fund Profile. You will need to adjust your event’s fund profile to match the entrepreneurs you recruit. For example, don’t use a $250M fund if you have seed deals (unless you specify it has a side seed fund). Similarly, don’t go with a micro-fund at $20M if you have a startup seeking a $5M investment. Often a $75-150M fund can pretty much cover anything.