Podcast: Raising Millions – Interview with Andreas Stavropoulos, MD @ Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Andreas_DFJ_pt1 (Parts 2 & 3 below)
I was fortunate enough to spend some time chatting with Andreas Stavropoulos, a Managing Director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ). DFJ is an innovative, forward thinking Venture Capital firm that has a passion for creating a networked Venture Capital firm that can identify investment opportunities and deploy capital throughout the world.
In this podcast, Andreas takes us through a number of important points – such as the selection criteria he and DFJ go through when considering making an investment in a company. While chatting, I made a few notes which I wanted to make sure I called out –
DFJ tend to invest particularly early in a company’s life cycle – I asked if an entrepreneur needed a full team, customers and other key milestones before they would be taken seriously – Andreas took us through a number of critical considerations but to quote his immediate response…
“We’ll take two people and a dog seriously – Its never too early to connect with us.”
It’s interesting that identifying investment opportunities very early is part of the DFJ culture – I gathered it was a key focus and a strategy for identify the best opportunities for a significant return. Andreas repeatedly made the point that if a particular segment (Cleantech) or Geography (China) is ‘hot’ then the returns are likely to be impacted through competition. The ideal is to identify these segment and geographic opportunities before the herd catches up. So – DFJ works to identify opportunities which might be too early for some other VC firms. In fact, DFJ can point to investments they’ve made in industry changing companies such as Hotmail, Meetup and others which seem like obvious investments now, but DFJ invested so early in these companies lives that, in some cases, they were little more than a handful of passionate business builders and a big idea!
On this podcast interview, we also explored what DFJ and Andreas are looking for when they receive a submission for funding – for these points you would be smart to listen to the podcast, but briefly – be self filtering, take a look through the background and portfolio of each of the Principals in DFJ and make sure you know who to reach out to and why your proposition is relevant to them. Just starting the email with a reasonable rationale for wanting to connect, and not using some form “Dear Sir/Madam” template will already put you ahead of the crowd who are also trying to raise millions of dollars just like you.
…and here is a critical point. DFJ and Andreas read ALL submissions…in other words, you don’t have to be referred by a pal, a classmate or priest…you can just email, cold, with a smart, reasonably comprehensive 4-5 page summary of the investment opportunity and providing its interesting to DFJ – they’ll meet with you and then you can begin the dating process that may turn into a real relationship.
Again, listen to the podcast – and you are welcome to add you questions or comments – I’ll happily ask Andreas to respond, focusing on those which will benefit the largest number of readers.
So – thanks for reading, let me know if you have any questions or comments and I’d like to hear if you have heard of any other Venture Capital firms who are just as open at DFJ to cold calls from entrepreneurs? Is this abnormal or normal as far as you know? If you have heard of very open VC’s please post them in the comments – this could be helpful to others.
DFJ’s stated mission is “…to identify, serve, and provide capital for extraordinary entrepreneurs anywhere who are determined to change the world”. Its no surprise that DFJ value the passion of the founding team members almost above the size of the opportunity – partially, I would suggest, because all of the DFJ team have that same degree of passion for the business they are building and their own goal to positively change the world.
Thanks again Andreas – you and DFJ are a star act!
PS – for a short time I have an audio course which could seriously help your fund raising. I’ll soon bundle it with a broader course so it could be pulled from availability at any time.
PPS – More info on Andreas and DFJ: http://www.dfj.com/about/
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