One important thing to consider when fund-raising is whether you are talking to the right investors. While some VC firms have a very wide portfolio with practices covering different sectors, others may have a preference for one sector (e.g. consumer SaaS) over other (e.g. heavy industrial equipment). Even within the same VC firm, different general partners may be interested / have experience in different types of businesses. How do you figure out which general partners is already interested in your industry sector and/or your product category?
One way to narrow the playing field is to start from the VC firm and look at their portfolio companies to see if what they are investing in. You aren't looking for VC firms who directly invested in a competitor - they would have conflict of interest - but you are looking for VCs who invest in your general area of interest - for example, education technology, B2B marketing platforms, retail analytics, or what-have you.
Another way is to start from venture-backed companies who play in your industry sector or whose business shares some similarity to yours, and see who invests in them. Some startups list their investors on their website. You can also look up this information on crunchbase. Once you figure out which VC firms invested in that company, the next step is to find out which general partner is sitting on the board as a full-on board member or a board observer. That would be the person you want to reach at the VC firm.
Last but not least, Harvard Business Review has a great article posted in 2016 that provides details on four questions you should pose to help you pick the right VC partner.
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