Everything You Need To Know Before Approaching a VC


Building a business makes you independent of investors, which is a good thing. But venture capital is a way to scale yourself up and grow rapidly. Here, Tamar Donikyan, a corporate and securities partner at the prestigious law firm, Ellenoff Grossman & Schole, gets down to the nitty-gritty of how you should use an investor for being conducive to where you’re trying to get with your company.

Tamar A. Donikyan

Diversity will take you further than you think it will.

More diversity, whether it’s more diversity in the boardroom, company, or even thought – leads to better outcomes for companies. Founding teams with a woman on it perform 62% better than all-male teams.

Nothing takes the place of experience.

No matter what you’re selling, you’re selling it to large corporations, and there’s a process to do that. The most effective people are the ones who have already done it in some capacity.

The VC firm will research you.

While they don’t necessarily use specialized software, investors like to make sure they’re betting on the best of the best by doing some market research. There are databases and other resources for doing this; for example, there’s App Annie for understanding how big an app is. Fortunately, the databases the investors use are the same ones you can use: Mattermark, CrunchBase, and Pitchbook are all readily available to give you information about your competitors. Only good can come out of being well-read.

"…on the order of 4000 ‘fundable’ companies a year, that want to raise venture capital...…about 200 of those will get funded by what’s considered a ’top tier VC’; about 15 of those will someday get to a 100M in revenue…" - Marc Andreessen

Get to know the VC firms and vice versa.

Investors expect you to know about them and what assets they have. Really understand the person you’re talking to and what other deals they’ve done. What are the things that investors should want to know about your company, and how can you expose them to that? You need to know why the investor you’re selling to is perfect for you, and be prepared for feedback. People want to invest in people who listen, so make sure you listen.

Keep networking.

Non-database research is all about building a relationship. Irrespective of whether you’re ready to get the money you seek, try to access individuals that have the expertise to bring value to your company. Remember, value is more than just based in dollars and cents. Add investors to your mailing list and send meaningful updates. Just because they weren’t interested at first doesn’t mean they can’t become interested later – people come around.

An investor-entrepreneur relationship is not a Hollywood marriage; you can’t just call it quits after a few months.

The relationship between an entrepreneur and her investor is a 7-10 year commitment. Make sure the people with whom you want to work are people that you’re excited to work with in the long term. Make sure you know the motivation behind their decision, and that their ideas of the larger picture are aligned with yours.

Don’t think crowdfunding will take the place of venture because you’d be betting your chips on the wrong pony.

At best, crowdfunding is great for the first round of financing, not the later stages.

Tenacity is the best quality an entrepreneur can have.

Like anything, raising capital is a numbers game. Getting a dozen rejections doesn’t mean you should be discouraged. If you believe your business has value, then persist like there’s no tomorrow. Make sure your tenacity matches with that of those you are asking for backing.

Not all investors are right.

You know your product, and you’ve done your research. You know more about your product than they do. A lot of the time, investors can be wrong.

Venture isn’t the only option, and it’s not always the best option.

For those individuals who have special financing needs in order to build a larger idea, VC makes sense. For others, it may be exactly what they don’t need.

At the end of the day, investors want to know that you have a big vision and are thinking about a large opportunity, but that you’re also thinking strategically. Show all of the potential – show where you are today, and include in that your experience and in your team. It’s a balance; you must both demonstrate that you have a tremendous opportunity on which you can capitalize in the future, but you must also be able to convey that you understand the small steps and the harder, less fun things you have to do.

5 min read

3 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress Each Evening (Instead of Reaching for Another Cocktail)

When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.

The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.

While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.

Risks of Reaching for Another Drink

Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.

Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.

While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.

Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress

Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!

Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:

  1. Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
  2. Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
  3. Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.

Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.

Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First

It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.

However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.

If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.

I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.