Apr 17 2012
Be concise, not precise.
Fundraising talk is hard. It’s a special combination of lingo, body language, and force of personality. The above advice is from one of the speakers at AngelPad. You can’t get wordy with investors early on, no matter how complex or nuanced the business, because if you get tuned out quickly you don’t recover. End of meeting. Despite the analogy being beaten to death, but it bears repeating: talking to investors is like hitting on girls. Since the investors (girls) hear over thousands of pitches (pick up lines) every year, they’ve developed shortcuts to quickly weed people out. It’s a matter of efficiency and some evolutionary thing I can’t explain.
Understanding the situation, many entrepreneurs still feel frustrated. Investors, professionals and angels, are generally intelligent people. So it’s not that they are unable to discern subtle differences. They just can’t afford to sit down for 30 minutes to pick out the gems from your verbal diarrhea. The key is selling the idea in the shortest amount of time. From there, if you pique interest, the investor will naturally ask the questions that get down to the nitty gritty. He/she may even figure out what you’re really doing.
The other problem is what I call the pigeon hole dilemma. Investors and media love to draw “X for Y” comparisons, like AirBnb for pets, or Match.com for basketball players. Again, it’s a quick shortcut that condenses your business into a neat soundbite. You probably hate it. Even though often inaccurate, it’s powerful because the person doesn’t have to spend much time processing your idea. Our AngelPad friend Brett (of Source Ninja fame) says it doesn’t matter how or what you say, you WILL get pigeon holed until you create that awesome billion dollar category of your own. You’re not XYZ until you’re XYZ.
This may all sound a little nutty for those not in the business. As for me, I’m in full acceptance phase. Time is valuable and if you can’t practice your pitch enough to capture attention of people who are writing you checks for huge sums of money, then how can you succeed building a valuable business out of scratch? One that requires projecting your vision and passion to bring on customers, employees, and partners? It’s a tricky song and dance, but one’s gotta learn it. Remember not to blow chunks.