9 of 10
...but don't oversell it
"If there's one thing VCs hate, it's being snowed," says Greg Gretsch of Sigma Partners, a venture firm in Menlo Park, Calif. "When an entrepreneur says, 'We're going to be a $10 billion company in five years and our growth is only to be compared with Google,' I say, 'Let's be more realistic.'"

VCs have all seen umpteen business plans, so don't project growth that few startups in history have ever achieved. "Most business plans magically assume revenues of $5 million by year two and $50 million by year five," says McIlwain of Madrona Venture Group, which led the syndicate that backed Apptio with $7 million. "I'm interested in the 24-month plan that lays out milestones showing how a company plans to create and capture value."

NEXT: Be right on the money

LAST UPDATE: Apr 21 2009 | 10:57 AM ET
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