I had lunch last week with an entrepreneur who has spent more than his share of time over the last few years raising money. I was describing for him a businesses I'm looking at and he was quick to note from how I described it that I found the business quite compelling. When I asked what made his say so, he pointed to my tone of voice. According to my friend, he has gotten to the point where he can tell how interested a potential investor is by the tone of his or her voice on an answering machine.
I have no doubt that he's right. In my mind, venture capital is an exercise in great optimism. Each business you hear about has the potential to be the next great company. And when you hear a compelling story, you are driven to learn more. The companies that get funded are the ones that grow more compelling with each additional piece of information. And given the infrequency with which that is the case, it is hard for venture capitalist to not express their increasing enthusiasm for those businesses that appear more and more promising.
While there is a lot of hard work between presentation and funding, good entrepreneurs are able to prioritize their time based upon the feedback they are getting from potential backers. As with so many things, its not just what a potential investor is saying but how he or she is saying it that can really matter.