Venture capitalists are busy — not only do they spend their days vetting potential investments, they also work within their existing portfolios to help those businesses succeed (often serving as board members) and work to raise funding for the firm as a whole.

As a result it can be difficult for an entrepreneur to attract a venture capital firm’s attention, especially in the current economy. An effective way for a company to increase its odds of getting the attention of a VC firm and raising capital is through the proper research, as outlined below:

Maximizing Appeal

When seeking funding the first priority should be to maximize the business’ appeal to potential investors. During a pitch with a venture capital firm there are four main points a business needs to prove:

1. An existing market. VCs want commercial viability. Does a significant market exist and can the product or service be offered in a cost-efficient way?

2. Competitive advantage. Is the idea or product unique enough that other businesses can’t just copy it?

3. The right team. VCs aren’t just investing in an idea; they’re betting that the team can make that business successful.

4. A potential exit. Venture capital is unique in terms of investments; being able to show that the company has an exit plan is likely to increase VC interest.

Personalized Pitch

Once a business has a solid pitch and has maximized its appeal, it’s important to be selective in determining venture capital firms to pitch.

Do research to find venture capital firms that:

-Make investments in the right industry
-Are currently investing
-Have successfully funded other companies in a similar field

If possible, seek out an introduction from someone the venture capitalist trusts—someone working at a portfolio company, advisors at startups, or even other VCs. A trusted connection will increase chances that they’ll take an interest.

Finally, craft brief, personalized pitches for 2-3 investors who seem like a good fit.

And remember: the more closely aligned the business and the venture capitalist, the better the chances that the venture capital firm will take the time to get to know the company—and then invest.