Several months ago I read a comment on twitter by a female entrepreneur about how she was beta testing the outfits she would wear when pitching to VCs. She was methodically working her way through a rigorous matrix of choices: Skirt? Slacks? Oxford? Dress? Did black perform better than bright colors? Which was the optimal combination?
This kind of thing makes me crazy! It makes me want to reach out through my smart phone and throttle the entrepreneur, shouting, “Forget your wardrobe! Is your idea good enough? Stop fiddling with your outfits; focus your energies on your company!“
To date, I raised funding for four startups, including $12 million for Neato Robotics at a time when hardware was less than popular to venture capitalists. It’s a given that you shouldn’t smell bad or be dirty at a pitch (or anytime, for that matter). But smelling good isn’t going to seal the deal. Getting funding comes down to three things: team (can the VC can work with this entrepreneur and his/her team, especially if times are rough?), market (is this entrepreneur’s idea at the cusp of a large opportunity?), and fit (will this company/idea integrate with the fund’s ethos?). If you have these three ingredients, it won’t matter if you have no make-up on and are wearing jeans and a tee instead of a dress and heels--the investor will engage.
By all means wear what makes you confident. Spiff yourself up if that’s what you need to get the job done. Most importantly, be yourself, but make sure you’ve got the tools you need to properly engage those VCs interested in your ideas and vision. The VC isn’t investing in your clothes, or your appearance; they’re investing in you.