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Is it a waste of time trying to get VC funding? I didn’t go to Harvard or Stanford or get an MBA. I started out in a community college and then worked my way through a small state school. (I also have zero student loan debt) How much does a dev guy’s educational background matter to investors?

In 20 years of venture finance involvement I have yet to hear a top venture fund professional say “We like this company because the CEO went to a top school.” What I do hear from investment professionals is extraordinary respect for scrappy technologists like you who start with nothing and work hard to build something of great, enduring value.

VCs all say they “invest in management.” Just as all winning horses need a capable jockey (VCs often refer to a company’s CEO as “the jockey”), a great business plan goes no where without skilled management and execution.

So what do VCs look for in their jockeys?

VCs favor entrepreneurs who are self-assured, honest and performance-oriented. They routinely meet stated business goals and understand financial statements. They look for leadership—not just from one individual at the top— but a top leader who fosters individual leadership and goal attainment throughout the company.

Personally, I like to work with entrepreneurs who are flexible and open-minded to improving their ideas. They ask for help when they need it and willingly implement good ideas even if the idea was not their own.

While attending a top school can help graduates network to sources of capital, your aptitude for organizing and building a business will always count more. By your longer letter, you have demonstrated that you can start a business, develop a prototype, find first customers and get paid for your work. That’s success.

Now, your next challenge is introducing the right early-stage investors to your business purpose. I know you can do this because so much of funding success comes to entrepreneurs who follow-up and don’t give up.

If a potential investor asks you about your education, don’t apologize for your education choices. Be proud of the accomplishment. As you’ve noted, you saved thousands of dollars in tuition and board.

Now your next action steps are all about putting a game plan in place to raise capital for your business. Nothing should hold you back at this point. Get to it and succeed!

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