Ask a VC: Event Gives Entrepreneurs Insight into Getting Noticed by Funders

GALLERY | The event was the first of many Stephen Hays, Sammy Abdullah, and Kevin Vela hope to offer in the startup community.


In this year alone, Deep Space Ventures has seen more than 200 pitches from entrepreneurs vying for funding from the Dallas-based venture capital firm.

Since it’s founding last March, there have been more than 500.

So, what does it take to stand out from the crowd?

Deep Space Ventures Managing Partner Stephen Hays and Sammy Abdullah of Blossom Street Ventures combed through some of their own experiences with early businesses and venture financing Wednesday in a discussion moderated by Kevin Vela, attorney and founding partner of Vela Wood.


Ask a VC panel, from right: Kevin Vela, Stephen Hays, Sammy, Abdullah. [Photo: Chase Mardis]

“Ask a VC” panel, from right: Kevin Vela, Stephen Hays, Sammy Abdullah. [Photo: Chase Mardis]

The “Ask a VC” panel at The Foundry Club, a coworking space at Mockingbird Station, served as an introduction to venture capital with a focus on pitching. Both VCs narrowed in on specific business characteristics they look for and some they try to avoid when making decisions on investments.

“There are all types of people, so I don’t really care if you are loud, or soft spoken, crazy, wear sunglasses, or whatever, I don’t care about that,” said Hays.”I just don’t want to feel like I’m being sold or mislead.”

While neither VC claims an industry focus, they said creating a concise pitch that gets to the point is an important factor in the evaluation process.

“If we can understand it, we’ll look at it,” Abdullah said.

Sammy Abdullah, right, with Stephen Hays. [Photo: Chase Mardis]

Sammy Abdullah, right, with Stephen Hays. [Photo: Chase Mardis]

Other words of advice included avoidance of arrogance in pitches and focusing on aesthetics in companies’ pitch decks.

The idea was to get a couple of active, local VCs together and “recreate the best part of [Dallas] Startup Week,” Hays said.

The event, styled as an open roundtable discussion and a forum for questions, also offered networking. It was the first of what the trio hopes to be a series of events for the community, Hays told Dallas Innovates.


The “Ask a VC” panel. [Photo: Chase Mardis]

Kevin Vela, right, and Stephen Hays [Photo: Chase Mardis]

The event offered attendees an opportunity to ask questions. [Photo: Chase Mardis]

Sammy Abdullah considers a question. [Photo: Chase Mardis]

Group listening at the “Ask a VC” event. [Photo: Chase Mardis]


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