You know what? You don’t have to ram it down investors’ throats.
We get it. You’ve worked hard, from your kitchen table, for the past three years; you’ve achieved “product market fit”, and you’re a lean as a George Foreman Grill. And just as hungry.
Time to reach out to everyone you have spoken to about your startup, at every meetup you’ve attended, plus the guy who runs your local corner-shop, your bank manager, in-laws, friends, fools, and investors you sort of know because you’re friend once bumped into them in a lift and gave them the eponymous pitch.
Well, yes and no. In situations like this, sometimes it’s best to exercise just a smidgen of caution.
Prepare for a shock – not everyone will be as excited as you about your new game-changing solution.
For example, if an investor says they only invest in gaming technologies, let’s say, and you have built a dating app – believe them when they say there is nothing they can do for you.
Imagine if somebody approached you and said; “well, I heard you are an entrepreneur but I met you once several years ago, so I’d like you to come and work on my farm”. Doesn’t make sense, right?
If somebody has explicitly said they don’t do your industry, then they really don’t do your industry, and pitching it to them won’t make them think “I should quit everything I’m doing and back this guy”.
It just doesn’t happen like that. Yes, they might have friends or colleagues who can help you – so find out who they are independently.
You may have met a guy from some venture firm or other and gotten along with them, but does that mean you send them the pitch deck and expect them to pass it to the appropriate contact at the firm?
Every VC firm wants to see relevant pitch decks, and believe it or not, they make it easy for you to submit them, and they make it clear what types of decks they would like to see.
And then they read them. And if they are interested, they’ll contact you.
It can be very easy to tell yourself that there must be a better, a more disruptive, a cooler way to reach out to an investor. And we would never say you should rule out this approach. But there are also times when you must simply join the queue, take the ticket, and wait.
It goes against everything you read about guerrilla marketing, elevator pitching, and being lean, agile and disruptive, but look at it this way.
I am an investor hunting for good ideas. Why wouldn’t I make it as easy as possible for people to reach me with their ideas? I am going to tell them, explicitly, and clearly, what the best way to reach me is; on my website, when I give a talk, across my social media channels.
Am I really going to thank somebody for completely disregarding my advice and trying to get a hold of me some other way?
Remember, if I decide to back you, I am going to want to work with you over a sustained period of time. How do I know you can follow an instruction if you start by ignoring the first one I give you?
So, remember, sometimes it helps to curb your enthusiasm a little, and let your project speak for itself.
Let’s say you go to 25 events hunting for that perfect investor, and finally you corner them – what are they going say to you?
“Ahem, could you ping that across to me in an email, with a pitch deck?” An investor won’t back an idea they don’t like because the founder keeps pestering them – they will, however, move heaven and earth to contact the author of an idea they love.
So, stay patient – and if you really want to hustle, hustle for customers, hustle for traction, hustle to monetise. Then you are actively doing what the investors’ wants you to do, and who doesn’t appreciate that?
If they aren’t replying, it’s hard to take, but maybe they just weren’t that into your start-up. It happens a lot. Don’t despair.