Melton had already met with Sattlemair and introduced him to a couple of partners at the Silicon Valley firm, known for backing start-ups such as Skype, Twitter and Tesla. Now it was time for Sattelmair to pitch the entire partnership in a meeting that would make or break his deal. He went on to deliver a killer pitch for his tech platform, which helps health organizations manage their at-risk population.
"He had passion and vision," Melton said. "He could hold the room—with just one eye."
After that meeting in July 2014, Draper Fisher Jurvetson went on to lead an $8.5 million funding round in Wellframe in September.
Venture capitalists often hear hundreds of pitches a year. But only a small number of entrepreneurs like Sattlemair win funding from them. The 4,354 VC deals that took place nationwide in 2014 may seem like a large number, but not compared to the millions of small businesses that exist in the U.S. And even as the number of U.S. cities where $100-million-plus deals are taking place has increased, nearly half of the 2014 deals took place in hot spots such as San Francisco (876), San Jose (417), Boston (371) and New York City (395), according to the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA).
So what separates entrepreneurs who succeed from those whose pitches fizzle? Few people are privy to what venture capitalists are really thinking during closed-door pitching sessions to find the next billion-dollar deal. "It's such a secretive thing," said Lakshmi Balachandra, an assistant professor at Babson College and former venture capitalist who has conducted research on pitching.
That said, some entrepreneurs are figuring it out. Here are six tips on how to join the elite club of those who win funding.