First Chair: April 2024


April 2024

Welcome back to First Chair : Your rundown on Vermont’s startup scene brought to you by your friends at VCET. Today’s gems:


💎The most overlooked step in fundraising

💎Watch Female Founders B Corps

💎A startup equity cheatsheet we love

💎Start Here podcast episode #88 with Grayson Zulauf of Resonant Link

💎A spotlight on North Springfield’s Cannatrol

The Most Overlooked Step in Fundraising


Good news! There is more early stage capital available in the Green Mountain State than ever before. But just because the capital is abundant, doesn’t mean that it’s easily obtained. Luckily, there is a lot you can do to ensure a successful raise. Let me start with the disclaimer that there is much to be done before you even begin fundraising (assuming venture capital is right for you and your company). Here’s how to get your ducks 🦆 in a row:

  1. Understand your imminent capital needs, including how much money you need, when you need it, how you’ll spend it, and how long you expect it to last.
  2. Determine the type of investor you want, as well as the deal structure and terms you’re comfortable with.
  3. Have an idea of your company’s capital path beyond your current raise. Will you need another round? When?
  4. Create a well-organized data room with everything an interested investor may want or need to see.


Quick side note: If you need help with any of the above steps, please reach out. This is our jam…our lifetime portfolio companies have raised $500M in capital. Plus, VCET advising is free!


But regardless of whether or not you have your ducks in a row, there is one critical step that is often overlooked: your first impression. It may seem trivial, but from an investor’s perspective, it can make or break the relationship. You can only make a first impression once, so here’s my unfiltered advice on how to get it right the first time (most of which applies to digital and IRL first impressions):

  1. Get a warm intro if possible. It immediately builds trust and gets you priority for a reply.
  2. Reach out on one channel at a time If you send me an email, a contact form, and a LinkedIn DM…I get them all at the same time. Suddenly you have my attention but you’ve also tripled my workload. I am annoyed. So, spread the love…if you don’t hear back for a week or so, then you can try another channel.
  3. Be succinct. Remember, the goal of your first outreach is to get a callor a meeting scheduled, not to get an instant investment. If you lay it all out there in the first outreach, you may be giving me an easy out. So your job is to provide enough info to simply pique my interest to secure that first meeting.
  4. Have a clear, simple ask. 🏼‍♀️“Can I have 30 minutes of your time to tell you more about our raise and get some feedback on our deck?” This clarifies expectations and forces me, the investor, to say “yes” or “no” to a meeting. Also, asking for feedback shows me that you’re looking for value beyond a check, and that you are a coachable founder.
  5. Be cool🧊 and calculated. Even if you’re feeling the pressure, a sense of urgency does not come across well (especially in email)…I’ll assume that I’m your last-ditch effort and everyone else has already passed on your round. No good!


That’s it for now. I hope my advice helps you land a great meeting, and a great advisor, and maybe even a great big check! 🤑




Did you miss Female Founders: B Corps? We got you

Female Founders B CORPS

Hot tip Check out the Carta data below! Equity awards for the earliest team members is a topic that comes up a lot with VCET’s portfolio companies. As Dave mentioned in a recent LinkedIn post about this graphic, “‘It depends’ still dominates…but these ranges better help set expectations and negotiations.”

Want to dig deeper? Check out Peter Walker’s thoughts too.

Looking for community? Connection? Coworking?


VCET offers flex memberships for just $150/month in downtown Burlington. Fixed desks are available for teams and individuals as well. Did we mention Bagel Wednesdays? Ping Pong Thursdays? Brio Coffee? Unlimited conference room access? Yep!

Benchmark Space Systems flies first electric thruster… but don’t take our word for it, Tom Messner is the real professional.


🥇 Skylar Bagdon, CEO of Verde Technologies won Peak Pitch! Thanks for a great event, FreshTracks!


GPMS partnered with Metro Aviation, Inc. to provide Texas Department of Public Safety’s Airbus Helicopters H125 with the industry’s top #HUMS solution, Foresight MX.


🫶🏻 Fluency is top-ranked by G2 in several key customer-centric categories for the fourth straight quarter. We’re not surprised, but it sure says a lot about their priorities as a company.

Prefer to listen to stories? Check out our latest Start Here episodes

and don’t forget to follow, rate, review, and subscribe!

Growing high-paying jobs in the state of Vermont is central to VCET’s purpose. Check out these sweet gigs (including an internship!) with some of our portfolio companies.

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Special thanks to our strategic partners Senator Patrick Leahy, the University of Vermont, Middlebury College, Consolidated Communications, the Vermont Technology Council, the State of Vermont, M&T Bank, HUD, & SBA.

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