First off I'm very glad to have found this exchange because a lot of questions will be forthcoming from me.
The skinny: I started a new business a couple months ago, an LLC. My skill set is in the field if digital signal processing. I view my business doing a couple things, and I am not tying myself down because it is very young.
One of the things I want to focus on is online teaching/tutoring in my field. Naturally, I have some ideas as to how this can be done, etc.
However the more and more I dig into it, the more I see that I just might need to have some startup capital. VC, angel, whatever.
My question is this: How exactly does one go about getting VC funding for his/her idea for a business?
I am under no illusions that this is something hard, but frankly I need to get the ball rolling on this even if I might fail. I'll never know otherwise.
Where do I look? Who do I email? Is there a one stop shop for this type of stuff? What are the unwritten rules? I know that VCs can take a big chunk of ownership - is there anything else this entrepreneur needs to know for your experience? I am looking for detail oriented answers please.
You don't have to focus VCs, ideas for angel monies also sought. If you need more details ask me, I'm here to learn.
Thanks in advance.
Edits for additional information:
If you're looking to focus on tutoring/teaching, then you may not really be a good candidate for VC or Angel investments. The reason is that this activity is labor-intensive, doesn't scale well and depends heavily on one individual. If you left, then there really wouldn't be much left to the business. So, that means that there would be no real potential "exit event" for them -- no chance for your company to go public or merge with another company. And, as a result, no way for them to recoup their investment.
Also, recognize that the types of investors you're talking about DO NOT want to invest in an LLC. Because funds are generally organized as partnerships, your organization as an LLC means that your profits and losses would flow through to the tax returns of the fund members -- they don't want that.
Nevertheless, if you think that you have a good story for the venture community, you want to put together a business plan that shows realistic future cash flow and value of the company and shows how you would build the company going forward. At the same time, you want to spend a lot of time networking by going to venture events and getting to know people. By doing that, you build a network of support and increase the chance that you will find an appropriate investor. You also want to identify the funds which invest in your field and in your geographic region and just spend time talking to those folks to gauge their interest.
In your situation, however, I'd be trying to shoestring the business as much as possible and then, if you really need capital, look to a bank loan.
A quick google search on digital signal processing training brings up a bunch of possible competitors offering courses. How is your offering different? What is your unique selling proposition to the particular segment you are addressing?
Attempting to figure out one exactly obtains venture capital at this juncture is premature (in lean speak, wasteful). Time spent on this board and venturehacks. com would likely give you a good foundation upon which to learn the ins and outs of chasing funding.
But - you need to have something that is of interest to a VC before you go chasing them. Many times, the VC's are looking not only at the idea (that, but itself, has limited value), but the team you've assembled, the market traction you accomplished, the validity of the raise (what you are using the funds for) and whether the idea is a scalable business or not (ie. they can make money on their investment). Remember that there are a ton of people out there with ideas - and all of them are competing for investors attention - so you need to be prepared to present why they should invest in you / your idea vs. another. Raising capital is not like going to a bank to obtain a loan - the most memorable quote I got at a NY meetup was "(raising capital) is more like going to a high school dance - and you're the unattractive one."
In regards to corporate structure, you can start off as an LLC and then convert to a C corp when you are ready to take on investors. Converting now is likely not needed - but your counsel can best advise you at this step.
Best of luck!