Venture capitalist Ann Winblad recently spoke to our Women Startup Lab Meetup group in Menlo Park.
Winblad is the co-founder and a Managing Director of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners. With over 30 years of experience in the software industry she is a well-known and respected entrepreneur and technology leader. She is also on the board of directors of SVForum.
She has a slew of impressive degrees and credentials and founded a software company in the mid-80s which was acquired back before software was hot. I used to work with Winblad when I was with IBM Venture Capital Group and it great catching up with her again before her talk to about 30 female entrepreneurs.
Today software is not just hot. It’s white hot. Large companies like IBM have shifted their focuses from hardware to software in recent years. In fact last I checked software was IBM’s most profitable group.
Winblad estimates that today 60 percent of companies that receive VC-funding offer software.
Hummer Winblad Venture Partners was founded in 1989 as the first venture capital fund to invest exclusively in software companies.
My key take-away from Ann Winblad’s talk was that she doesn’t like to invest in entrepreneurs who focus on risk.
The word “risk,” says Winblad, has a negative connotation. It is associated with the threat of failure and impossibility.
Winblad instead likes to invest in companies run by opportunists and visionaries. She looks for company leaders with can-do attitudes who look toward the long-term goal. She says companies that IPO are on average seven years old and ones that are acquired are at least 10 years old.
Here are her six tips on how to get funded. By the way, she stressed that her firm focuses on Series A funding, not seed funding. This means funding a company and not just a concept.
1. DON’T BE A RISK TAKER. Focus on opportunity not risk. It’s not about being a risk taker; it’s about being a visionary.
2. KEEP AN EYE ON THE FUTURE. Winblad says it’s because visionaries are inspired, enterprising, and insightful.
3. SHOW HER YOU CAN ATTRACT TALENT. Do people want to work with you? Are you a team player? Attracting and retaining the best talent is what makes or breaks companies.
4. DON’T HAND HER A COMPANY PROFILE. E-mail her but only if it’s a fit. For example, don’t send her company information if she backs a competitor.
5. HANG OUT AND NETWORK WITH VCs. Half of the companies funded by VCs are Silicon Valley-based and 80 percent of the world’s VCs are based here as well.
6. WHEN PRESENTING, DON’T BE SO BUTTONED DOWN. VCs invest in people with personalities and heart. This is especially a women’s problem. Don’t be so formal.
Here is a list of selected active and historical Hummer Winblad Venture Partner investments.
Selected Current Companies:
Visit https://plus.google.com/photos/111651143754275279070/albums/5924958611441888881 for photos of the event.
Michelle McIntyre is president and principal consultant at Michelle McIntyre Communications LLC, a high tech PR firm based in Saratoga, California. Follow her at @FromMichelle on Twitter. Women Startup Lab is @ws_lab.