Start by raising a small round from a strategic group of angel investors. This is your opportunity to gain a great set of advisors who have skin in the game.
Use that money to search for product-market fit, and pivot as much as needed until you see customers pulling the product.
Then raise a larger seed round or series A round from VCs. In every financing round, keep a small portion of the round for individual investors such as mentors, advisors, industry executives, and influencers. You want to make your biggest champions, and people who can help your company, stakeholders in your success.
VCs talk to each other all the time, so your pitch and ask need to be consistent.
If you need between $ 3 to $ 5 million to reach your next milestone, start pitching investors asking the lower number. If you see a lot of demand from investors to invest, shift your ask toward the larger number. It is generally easier to raise a smaller amount, and scaling back your raise amount creates signaling risk to investors that there is not enough demand.
Ideally, you should be able to use your angel investors to get introduced to VCs. Line up all your first meetings within a short time frame, but allow enough time for everyone to do their due diligence and for you to know them and for them to know you.
Make sure to keep momentum. Don’t tell the VC who else you are talking with. Use the back channel to your advantage; ask the person who made the introduction or your advisors to follow up with the VC after your initial meeting.
Put yourself in the shoes of VCs: evaluate whether you would invest in your startup and why, and what the risks are.