How Not To Give Your First Founder Interview

Snap, Cackle & Plop? If the press put the wrong stories out about you, heads will roll.

There comes a time in every founder’s life when they must answer one simple question; based on current demonstrable traction and future growth projections can you justify supporting a valuation of £250k also bearing in mind estimated headcount growth, vesting schedules, and a cash burn that could exceed your funding runway in less time than it takes to prototype and achieve product market fit?

It sounds like the kind of question only an idiot would ask, and yet it’s the kind of question you often get from a journalist. There must be some kind of connection there but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

It probably seems strange that, whilst nobody ever showed even the slightest passing interest in what you had been doing in your garage/kitchen table/local Starbucks/Dalston Burger King all those years when you had to mine sweep the chicken nugget bin and buy the avocados for your breakfast smoothie at Ridley Road Market (investors shop at Waitrose – oh how you dreamed of those small, overripe, wilting £2 a pop delicacies, wrapped in 3 layers of plastic just like an Easter egg), but, now that you have moved into a co-working space, and made a few Hipster/Hacker/Hustler connections, the journos will be waiting for you.

Heads up! They are poor – even poorer than you. No, really! They want a scoop – and not just of ice cream or pea soup from their nearest food bank – and co-working spaces like the one you have just joined let them in for free. There’s no avoiding it/them – you are going to have to give an interview; here’s what you should do.

Bring a PR

So you’ve connected with a writer at an event at your new co-working space. You bonded over the free beer. They say they are doing a feature for the Guardian Small Biz section – on business failure. Failure! 5 years you’ve been working on this startup – you’ve just reached your 10,000th customer.
That’s only 5 customers per day – Facebook got that in less time than in takes to say; “You failed”, or “You’re too slow”, or even, just, “No”. Boy, if only that book you read, “Believe The Hype, You Will Always Succeed”, had mentioned not to believe the hype and that you don’t always succeed.
This is where the PR will come in handy – it’s all a matter of perception, they will tell you. One man’s failure is another man’s crusade/pivot/disruptor; everyone fails – failure is the new success!

Don’t bring a PR?

Shoot from the hip; tell it like it is, after all, who tells your story better than you?

Do A Live Demo?

The ultimate expression of complete confidence in your brand? The ultimate booby trap? It’s sink or swim – you’ll either be a front page splash or a damp squib.

Ask For The Questions In Advance?

Are you spontaneous or deliberate – thinking man’s crumpet or a sitting duck? If stock answers to tough questions is what you want to deliver, stock questions are the way to deliver it. If you are a personality led brand, perhaps you should develop a reputation for being an excellent person to reach out to for a quote – somebody who always says something original.

Meet them in your offices?

Depends – has your office complex been specially designed by a firm of Architects with a name like Nevr, Hadid, SoGood, built in the shape of a “cronut” and spruced up with a perfectly manicured putting green? Or is your office really a badly folded 2 man tent you keep in your laptop bag? How many bean bags do you have – how many puppies?
If you are preparing for a visit from a journalist, your office had better be cutesy, and it had better have “hot-desking” – oh, and this last point is essential – make sure nobody is seen to be doing any work. Just playing Tinder whilst chilling in the ball pit.

Don’t tell the truth!

An obvious one to end on, but some people still need reminding of this! Remember, this is your chance the to tell the world…what you’ve actually done??!! No, no, no! Nobody wants to hear that – not even your mother/best friend, and certainly not potential clients/investors.
And your rivals – you want to let your rivals know how your company works. Goodness me, you have a lot to learn. And you will.

But in the meantime.

Just.

Keep on hustlin’

Rob

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