For most of us, looking in from the outside, venture capital (VC) appears to be an exciting, dazzling and glamorous world, filled with edge-of-the-seat, electrifying moments and cliff-edge thrills.
Stories abound of success snatched from the jaws of certain defeat and college drop-outs transformed into overnight millionaires.
There’s certainly a great deal of truth in these myths. Take the case of figures such as Eugene Perkins, the Austrian-American engineer who’s considered to be one of the pioneers of Silicon Valley. Or Arthur Rock who was one of the earliest investors in Apple and Scientific Data Systems. The stories of how they recognized and backed embryonic businesses that went on to achieve world-class success are legendary.
While these are legends in their own right, today, the reality is that venture capital plays an increasingly more modest, supporting role in the mobilization of funds for innovation.
Modern venture capitalists now focus on funding the second stage of a start-up’s innovation cycle, because that is when the commercial aspect starts to develop.
Websites represent your calling card, brochures, promotions, ads, and marketing department all rolled into one. That is why it’s crucial that venture capital websites work at peak performance 24x7x365. They help your firm stay visible, relevant and competitive.
How Does VC Work?
Typically, venture capitalist firms are non-banking companies that provide funds in the form of loans or equity investment to emerging, new, promising, potentially high-growth businesses.
These loans are not particularly cheap and could be in the range of 20-50% rate of annual return.
However, unlike banks, VC’s may take equity in the company as well, making it easier for the business-owner who doesn’t have to fork out cash to pay for interest/principal/installments.
VC’s look for companies to invest in that show a distinct potential for rapid and sustained growth, steady sales, a new patent or proprietary technology, leading position in an emerging market, professionally managed team, and finally, good chances of being acquired by a larger player in the field.
They may offer financing at different stages such as seed financing, start-up, second-stage, bridge financing or a buyout in management leveraged terms.
The Changing Face of VC in America
Figures for 2019 show that funding is required by fewer companies. A bigger majority of start-ups prefer to remain private over a longer period of time than in previous years. Private markets seem to post more growth and values, with huge mega-funding being used to maintain private stake-holding. Companies with an already established and mature reputation attract more funds today.
There seems to be a reduction in the number of fundable start-ups in the market today. The financial reality has failed to sync with popular, romanticized perception of VC funding and fledgling start-ups.
Millennials are also increasingly reluctant to take business risks by starting their own firms.
Standards have been steadily increasing and becoming more focused as far as investment is concerned.
Today, VC is not the only player in this field. A host of other actors has entered this arena, such as hedge funds, endowments and sovereign wealth funders. The concept of corporate VC has also gained traction.
Keeping all these factors in mind, the field for venture capitalist firms has become highly competitive and challenging.
This is where the right marketing strategy and a great website can play a key role in attracting more business, and more importantly, of the right kind.
How To Find The Best Website Designer For Your VC Firm
1. Know Your Requirements: As the owner or part of the management, it’s important to map out your needs and preferences in a company website. The aim is to attract the right audience, provide a focused and clear message about your firm’s capability, history and reputation. You also need to ensure that your target audience gets the right information.
2. Know Your Target Audience: It’s essential that you let your web designer know clearly who your target audience is. Convey the information you have on market size, your business model, what you will provide your clients with (expertise, financial know-how, connections with funders) and how you are different from others in the arena.
3. Initial Meetings: Once you’ve shortlisted a few likely candidates, try to have initial meetings that include your team and theirs. Keep a keen eye open for what their communication style is, how open they are to your ideas, whether they value your knowledge and experience in this sector. You also need to be clear about your own expectations and goals for the website. Trust your instincts. Do you feel comfortable with them, do they over-promise, are your team-members happy to work with them?
4. Experience vs Freshly-Hatched: As an organization whose clients are newbies and emerging stars, you’re more than familiar with what it’s like to work with them. However, when it comes to website design, it’s wiser to work with professional designers who have real experience in creating websites in your sector. Otherwise you could end up wasting a lot of time and effort.
5. Portfolio: View design portfolios exactly how you would look at a potential client’s presentation when they make a pitch to you. Ensure that the work displayed aligns with your own expectations and goals. Portfolios showcase the designer’s best work so if you aren’t satisfied with it, you’ll never be. While it’s great to work with a designer who has a diverse range of work experience, select one that has a larger share of VC website designs in the portfolio. Don’t be fobbed off by screen-shots. Insist on viewing real websites and get references.
6. Independent Opinions: Check industry news websites, online reviews, customer feedback, and talk to genuine clients who have worked with the designer before. Apart from quality of work, get feedback on communications, punctuality, professionalism, staying within budget, respect for privacy/confidentiality and after sales support.
7. Tech Capability: Today the lines between developers and designers has become increasingly blurred. Most designers have a strong foundation in technology and software. Check whether your designer is familiar with modern concepts of SEO, responsive design, data analytics, reporting, social media connectedness, and is able to help you source valuable, authentic, relevant, original and interesting content.