Investors are looking for companies that are in hot markets, or are on the cusp of the next hot one. "Focus on a space with momentum," says Artale. He's looking for technology solutions that have a broad customer base and that don't just appeal to a niche audience. The reality for the entrepreneur is that technology changes quickly, though, and companies have to be able to adjust. With a solid vision for your company, market dynamics can change and the big picture idea can still apply, says Milind Gadekar of CloudOn, his second startup. "There needs to be a big enough problem so that even if the market modifies itself, you can still pivot and have a viable solution," he says. Gadekar's startup provides a mobile app version of Microsoft Office tools and down the line he hopes to expand to more devices and applications.
Have unique technology
High-tech startups are in the technology field after all, so they need some sort of innovative or unique technology. A few years ago hot funding areas may have been around Web 2.0 companies and consumer technology, but enterprise infrastructure, analytics and optimization tools have heated up of late. Area such as big data, social media, mobile and SDN are all catching the attention of investors. Then again, there are some areas that will always make for an appealing business model, Sonsini says. "Any company that saves customers money will always be in style," he says. Whatever it is, it needs to be new and unique.
Work your network
"Having people I respect speak highly of you can go a long way," says Artale, the Ignition Partners investor. There's nothing better than having a good reference, especially for first-time entrepreneurs or people looking for early-stage funding. What helps even more is if there's a prior relationship between the entrepreneur and the investor. "If you know the people involved, it can go a long way," says Sonsini. Proven execution experience along with extraordinary leadership capabilities are invaluable traits, and can especially make the difference in early-round funding opportunities where the technology is not yet matured.
Don't ask for too much money