“If I hear the words pre-launch and significant potential in a pitch again I’m going to throw myself off a cliff,” in the words off a formidable Venture Capitalist I know. Chatting with VCs you do begin to hear some of the wider horror stories of how people pitch and act around them, thus I wanted to focus this post on some of the things you should avoid when engaging investors, most are common sense, but it’s surprising how much people forget when they see the word investor.
Pitch later, talk first
For some reason, a large proportion of the entrepreneurs I’ve met completely change their persona and behaviour around investors. It’s like a switch instantly goes off into drone mode, then every line out of said entrepreneur’s mouth is a pitch. Put simply people are people, you need to find common ground, not assault someone with your brilliant idea to save the world, have a conversation, learn about said investor and then maybe ask if they’d like to hear your premise or even wait until they bring it up because more often than not they will. This will make you stand out from the crowd, and you’ll have begun forming a meaningful relationship. (There’s a reason investors hide their badges at events such as Web Summit now, be different!)
Again another fundamental problem is entrepreneurs generally don’t ask investors questions. If you’re blindly pursuing some firm or rep of said investment firm, ask them about how they invest, what they invest in and why. Generally said, intelligent people will make sure their investors are just as much a fit for them as the other round and investors notice this, again it’s better to be courted than courting.
Desperation doesn’t work in dating
It also doesn’t in investment, keep cool no matter the situation, people especially investors will run a mile from someone whose desperate and why wouldn’t they, the inference is that you’re in trouble business wise and that you can’t find an investor. Be confident but cool, calm and collect.
Say no to hero worship
Going back to the first point people are people, George Soros is a person. Talk normally, don’t suck up to investors, be yourself and be polite/ respectful or who they are but don’t hero worship, no one likes that, and it’s an immediate turnoff, it also implies weakness.
Friendly final advice
If you have a solid business and traction, you have nothing to worry about, there is money out there, you’ll have to work hard but so be it, that’s the job. Don’t be fake, be calm and have a conversation. I know of many more VC and investment deals that have taken place over a beer than have not.