Verge is Open For Service and So Is Indiana

“You might not have heard about it, but Indiana’s killing it in software and tech. We’re growing like crazy.”

That’s what I said this morning at my out-of-state coffee meeting. This is the same level of enthusiasm with which I share our tech growth story every time I tell it. Whether I’m in Silicon Valley, DC, or Kansas City—I always deliver our Hoosier story with confidence and conviction.

And the story is usually met with intrigue and excitement. But this morning was different.

“We’re growing like crazy,” I said.

“Well… until now,” the guy on the other side of the table replied. His words slapped me across the face. My blood pressure started to raise and my first reaction was to tell him he was wrong. But part of me felt like I deserved it.

The past several days have been difficult for people living in Indiana. The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has generated a violent storm of negative attention for the state we call home. The new law communicates a set of values that my community and I just don’t support.

“But I didn’t do this,” I thought to myself. “I didn’t write the damn bill. And I sure as hell didn’t vote for it.”

But I still feel responsible. I’m proud of how my friends, mentors, and fellow founders from Verge nation have spoken out and taken action regarding RFRA.

The best parts of Indiana were built on the values of inclusion, openness, and service. That’s why Verge supports an #OpenIndiana and will always be #OpenForService.

open-for-service

We’re going to stay focused on building the kind of state we want to live in. And what we want is to keep Indiana open—open to new ideas, people, perspectives, and business. My hope is that our government will take action and I’m encouraged to see that it appears they’re taking this matter seriously.

I’m hopeful that new legislation is proposed and implemented quickly to fix these RFRA and perception issues. In the meantime, let’s continue to celebrate the diversity of our community.

I know you’ll join me in sharing the stories of the people from our #OpenIndiana that are—and always have been—#OpenForService. The Indiana I know cares. The Indiana I know is open and growing.

So, how did I respond to my friend this morning at coffee?

I took a breath, looked him in the eye and said, “Just wait. You’ll see.”

Fresh face. Same community. Better experience.

“Here’s what we’ve got,” Kristian said as he pulled up the final list onto the big screen in the conference room. I leaned back in my chair as I read through the options.

kristian-andersen-studio-scienceIf you’re an entrepreneur, you know that naming a business isn’t easy. But picking a name for a community may be even more nerve racking. It’s not just your organization, it belongs to the group. I could feel the weight of the decision in my gut as I digested each potential name on the list.

“So, what do you think?” Kristian asked after it was clear that I was rereading through the list for the sixth or seventh time. Kristian Andersen is one of the top designers and branding minds in the industry. And as the founder of Indianapolis-based design firm Studio Science, Andersen’s team had crafted a list of about a dozen final options for a new name for our Midwest-based group. The problem was that there were several names in the list that tugged at my curiosity.

“I really like Verge,” I said as I looked to the group for feedback. I was still timid about pushing the group in any direction back then, because much of the magic behind Verge is the ideas, energy, and execution from everyone within Verge nation. Fortunately–and eventually unfortunately–for us a lot of people like “Verge” as a name brand.

We picked our name and the Verge community grew.

verge-community-1

And grew.

verge-community-2

And we’ve learned a lot along the way.

Thanks to leaders in other growing tech communities and our supportive sponsors, we’re now 3,000+ members strong in four different cities in the Midwest, with several more locations on the horizon. Each hub hosts their own pitch nights, where entrepreneurs share their business, technology, and vision with a growing group of investors, founders, and builders. And that takes guts.

Pitch Nights have become a headquarters for bold entrepreneurs building tech businesses outside of the bubble of Silicon Valley. And these Verge headquarters in Middle America have given a heartbeat behind our purpose-driven community.

Now our Verge community is on the verge itself.

verge-community-huncklerTogether, we’ve built a home where you can find candid stories about entrepreneurs and technology on the verge. And we’re building more and more places where you can find that community of sharers.

Since we picked the name for our community back in 2010, several other organizations decided they like using the name “Verge,” too. They each have their own focus and luckily one sharp community member, helped us protect our IP and helped us trademark our name. That’s pretty great, because we’re pretty fond it :)

And our Verge is growing. Soon, you’ll be able to find a geographic HQs north, south, east, and west of our flagship HQ in Indianapolis. We support Verge HQs across the Midwest and anywhere outside of Silicon Valley to support and celebrate entrepreneurs growing tech businesses.  So here’s what you need to know about our next chapter of growth…

VergeStartups.com is now VergeHQ.com

We like to keep things simple. Many of the entrepreneurs in our community have grown their business beyond the startup stage. But they’ll always be on the verge of the next big things. And we’ll be sharing those on the new VergeHQ.com (hint: you’re reading this post now on our site now).

Home page

 

You can find new areas to explore on VergeHQ.com:

  • The COMMUNITY section where you’ll be able to find pitches from founders around the world and entrepreneurial insights you won’t find on other tech or leadership blogs.
  • The ABOUT section that shares our story of growing up in the Verge community
  • The START HERE section that shares many of the tools I’ve used in building businesses in the past and the tools we use today at Verge to keep adding value for our founders. The cool thing is, most of these tools were built by people within Verge nation!

And you can still finds old posts. Here are a few of my favorites:

You can get our best stories and some cool event opportunities delivered to your inbox on our Verge VIP list. Just sign up on VergeHQ.com to get updates. We’ll also be doing some cool new things with social…

On Twitter: @VergeIndy is now @VergeHQ and #VergeHQ

@VergeHQ on TwitterVerge has grown far beyond Indianapolis. You can still find founder stories, investor advice, and snapshots of the Indy community on @VergeHQ, but we’ll be featuring more of our VergeHQs around the country as well.

And here’s where the real potential is.

As we continue to support our community of entrepreneurs as we add new Verge HQs in new cities, we’ll raise the signal for all of Verge nation. When we share and amplify the entrepreneurial stories and new technology built outside the Valley, we build momentum for the Midwest and tech communities on the verge around the world.

As I finish typing up this post, I’m getting ready to step in front of a crowd of 250+ people.

Why? Because tonight in Indianapolis, we’re celebrating Studio Science—the same experience design agency I found myself sitting in four years ago, deliberating over names for our community.

As I left Kristian’s Studio Science offices four years ago, I thanked him and his team for helping us create our new brand. But his response surprised me and stuck with me ever since.

“A brand or a name is just a vessel,” Kristian corrected me. “It’s up to you to fill it up.”

So, thanks to you for helping us fill it up. We’ve built something magical here. I’m so grateful that you’re a part of Verge and I appreciate your support of entrepreneurs everywhere through @VergeHQ and VergeHQ.com.

See you around #VergeHQ

 

 

Entrepreneurs Answer: What’s the Best Startup Lesson You Learned?

What did I learn from that?

This question is a powerful follow-up to every major action you take building a new product or business. But it’s not often that we slow down enough to ask this of ourselves.

We recently asked a handful of entrepreneurs in the Verge community what was the most important lesson they learned in the last year. Luckily, they were able to slow their roll enough to share some thoughtful responses:

It’s a tough question to answer because it often requires humbling introspection. It means giving ourselves a good hard look in the mirror and taking ownership of where we are with our business. And we may not always like what we see.

The lessons are there, but they’re often shrouded by emotion and ego. So, here’s strategy for cutting through the head trash and getting to the good stuff:

1.) List your wins.

What did your business do that you are really proud of? It’s OK to brag here. This exercise is just for you. Make a list. (pro tip: caffeine, moderate alcohol, or even physical activity can be a productive catalyst here).

2.) List what’s wounded.

What did your business do that you are ashamed of or embarrassed by? Oh, c’mon… humble yourself here. You know your business screwed some things up this past year. Find your battle scars and business wounds, and make a nice long list. (pro tip: if you are prone to depression, maybe don’t drink alcohol while you do this). Get through it, and then move on to the next step . . .

Why Start a Business

3.) Ask yourself a simple question.

What was the main decision that led to this outcome? This question works for both wounds and wins. What you’re searching for here is the immediate action that led to the wound or win outcome.

Depending on how large your business is, this may not have been your direct action. Trace it back to the exact who and what of the action that produced your specific outcome.

4.) Keep asking that question.

Now that you’ve identified the direct action that produced your outcome, trace that momentum back a step further. What action or thought process was made by your business that produced your final outcome-producing action? When you find the answer, ask the question again:

What was the main decision that led to this outcome? Boil it down until you trace your steps back to your original entrepreneurial decision.

5.) Write down your answers.

You can map this thought process in a mind map. Or you can write it down as a short story, narrative, or whatever really brings this to life for you. But write the full sequence or strategy down for each big outcome. This ensures that you soak up and synthesize the knowledge that’s been lurking beneath the hustle and bustle of running your business.

When you get all of this out of your head and onto paper, it’s easier to remove the ego and emotion from your business wins and wounds. That’s an important step because emotion and ego have a tendency to distort your perception and prevent you from understanding the larger forces at play.

Once you have your winning strategies and wounding sequences identified, you can take action on your new insight. Develop new habits and business systems that based on these strategies and sequences. Like the entrepreneurs who shared their big wins and wounds from the past year, you can leverage your experiences to build a stronger business.

Make this next year the best one yet!

Entrepreneurs Answer: What’s the Best Startup Lesson You Learned?

What did I learn from that?

This question is a powerful follow-up to every major action you take building a new product or business. But it’s not often that we slow down enough to ask this of ourselves.

We recently asked a handful of entrepreneurs in the Verge community what was the most important lesson they learned in the last year. Luckily, they were able to slow their roll enough to share some thoughtful responses:

It’s a tough question to answer because it often requires humbling introspection. It means giving ourselves a good hard look in the mirror and taking ownership of where we are with our business. And we may not always like what we see.

The lessons are there, but they’re often shrouded by emotion and ego. So, here’s strategy for cutting through the head trash and getting to the good stuff:

1.) List your wins.

What did your business do that you are really proud of? It’s OK to brag here. This exercise is just for you. Make a list. (pro tip: caffeine, moderate alcohol, or even physical activity can be a productive catalyst here).

2.) List what’s wounded.

What did your business do that you are ashamed of or embarrassed by? Oh, c’mon… humble yourself here. You know your business screwed some things up this past year. Find your battle scars and business wounds, and make a nice long list. (pro tip: if you are prone to depression, maybe don’t drink alcohol while you do this). Get through it, and then move on to the next step . . .

Why Start a Business

3.) Ask yourself a simple question.

What was the main decision that led to this outcome? This question works for both wounds and wins. What you’re searching for here is the immediate action that led to the wound or win outcome.

Depending on how large your business is, this may not have been your direct action. Trace it back to the exact who and what of the action that produced your specific outcome.

4.) Keep asking that question.

Now that you’ve identified the direct action that produced your outcome, trace that momentum back a step further. What action or thought process was made by your business that produced your final outcome-producing action? When you find the answer, ask the question again:

What was the main decision that led to this outcome? Boil it down until you trace your steps back to your original entrepreneurial decision.

5.) Write down your answers.

You can map this thought process in a mind map. Or you can write it down as a short story, narrative, or whatever really brings this to life for you. But write the full sequence or strategy down for each big outcome. This ensures that you soak up and synthesize the knowledge that’s been lurking beneath the hustle and bustle of running your business.

When you get all of this out of your head and onto paper, it’s easier to remove the ego and emotion from your business wins and wounds. That’s an important step because emotion and ego have a tendency to distort your perception and prevent you from understanding the larger forces at play.

Once you have your winning strategies and wounding sequences identified, you can take action on your new insight. Develop new habits and business systems that based on these strategies and sequences. Like the entrepreneurs who shared their big wins and wounds from the past year, you can leverage your experiences to build a stronger business.

Make this next year the best one yet!

Pitch: PactSafe is the 1st Application that Seamlessly Manages, Tracks and Deploys Website Legal Agreements

PactSafe is the first application that seamlessly manages, tracks and deploys website legal agreements. In his August presentation at Verge, Brian Powers unveils PactSafe to the world. Watch his 5-minute pitch here:

PactSafe: Seamlessly Manage, Track and Deploy Your Website Legal Agreements

What is website legal?

  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policies
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Disclaimers

PactSafe

The problem:

  • Enforceability
  • Deployment and Management is a Huge Distraction
  • Tracking is Non-Existent

The solution (PactSafe):

  • Maximizes enforceability of website legal agreements.
  • Manages and deploys all aspects of website legal without disrupting development teams.
  • Tracks and records user acceptance of website legal agreements and modifications.

How you can help:

  • Sign Up and Use PactSafe!
  • Spread the Word!
  • Email the founder, Brian Powers if you or someone you know is looking for any of these awesome jobs

How are you currently managing website user agreements? Does PactSafe look like something you would use?

How It Works: Silicon Valley Acquisition of a Midwest Software Company

Brandon Fischer, Founder/President at Anacore, Inc.

Brandon Fischer, Founder/President at Anacore, Inc.

“The best advice I got… is to plan for the future and have a solid exit strategy from the beginning,” said Brandon Fischer, Founder of Anacore, an Indiana-based software development firm that was recently acquired.

Earlier this year, Anacore was acquired by Prysm Inc., a Silicon-Valley-based company that produces video walls that use Anacore’s technology. The software company acquisition made headlines in Indiana and changed the game for what Anacore is able to do with their business.

We followed up with Fischer to see how the acquisition is going and learn about the acquisition process now that a few months have gone by. Enter Brandon Fischer…

Did you have an acquisition strategy when you started Anacore?

I formed Anacore almost 9 years ago, when I hired my first employee. At the time, I had no exit strategy in mind. As we became a more product-oriented company, it became clear that I needed to think differently. In order to properly develop, market, deploy, and support a product, I needed more capital than our earnings could provide. For years, I reinvested every dollar of profit back into the company – but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t willing to put my family at risk by co-signing a big loan or taking out a 2nd mortgage on my home – I needed to bring in outside investment.

When did you develop an acquisition strategy?

I wasn’t looking to sell the company. I was preparing to raise $2M in a series-A… ideally through a single strategic investor/partner. We quickly had a few interested parties before we even hit the road. We started down the investment path with Prysm and our investment discussion quickly turned to acquisition. There is so much synergy between our companies that it just made sense.

Did you have investors or advisors who prepared you for acquisition? What was some of their best advice?

I was very fortunate to have some great advisors who helped me through the process. One of my advisors, Ron St.Clair, was incredibly generous and spent a lot of his time helping me negotiate the sale to Prysm and also navigate the painful due diligence process. The best advice I got, which I won’t be able to use until my next venture, is to plan for the future and have a solid exit strategy from the beginning.

What has been the biggest benefit of getting acquired?

We now have the global resources of Prysm to deploy and support our installations worldwide… that is not easy to do with 9 people! We also have the financial resources behind us to scale much faster. By the end of 2014, we will have added 20 new full-time jobs in our Carmel office – from sales and marketing to technical support… half of those will be software engineers.

What have been some of the challenges after acquisition?

We are going through a unique time and experiencing record growth – that is an understatement. To put it in perspective, we sold more in the first quarter of the year than we did in all of 2013. When you combine the challenges that go along with fulfilling a record number of orders – and, at the same time, getting acquired and integrating into a larger organization, it requires a lot of resilience.

We’ve seen other software acquisitions out of Indiana as well as acquisitions into Indiana. These exits almost always result in positive outcomes and Fischer gives us some insight here into the honeymoon phase. But it’s not always easy to navigate being a part of a new company.

What do you see as some of the potential hurdles for Midwest startups acquired by Silicon Valley or New York companies?

 

Why 11-year-old “Super Business Girl” Has an All-Star Pitch

“I’m asking for an eight dollar investment because not only are you investing into me, but you’re investing into my future and my business,” says 11-year-old Asia Newson. This kid has something that makes her pitch for her “Super Business Girl” business irresistible. See for yourself:

What!? OK, take my money.

I was in. The first time I heard Asia’s pitch on an episode of This American Life I knew this young lady had it. Young Newson has the most important part of any business pitch.

Asia Newson has conviction about Super Business Girl.

She is 100% committed to her product, her business, and herself. She believes in what she’s pitching and is able to convey this with conviction.

But where does this talent come from?

“It’s my personality,” says Newson in her interview with MSNBC. I’m not 100% convinced. Look for yourself:

Somewhere along the way (probably from her father), Newson learned to use her whole voice and her body to present herself and her business, Super Business Girl. She learned to use her voice inflection and facial expressions to keep her pitch engaging.

She kept it short. She said what she had to say with conviction, and then she did something really important.

She made the ask.

So Asia Newson, age 11, has already put together 3 of the most important elements into her pitch:

  1. Present with conviction
  2. Keep it brief
  3. Make the ask

Do you follow these best practices in each and every pitch you give?

Asia Newson a.k.a. Super Business GirlWhy don’t you see for yourself? Here’s my challenge to you:

Turn the camera on yourself today. No one has to see this. It’s just for you.

Flip your phone camera to video mode and set it 10-15 feet across from you so you can see your whole body. Find a private space so you don’t scare your officemates or coworking buddies. Then, pitch your business or product like your life depended on it. Remember to:

  1. Present with conviction
  2. Keep it brief
  3. Make the ask

Then watch it. What did you do well? Then get real with yourself… What could use some fine tuning in your pitch?

Before You Start, Ask Yourself….

work hardHow bad do you want it?

Whether you’re building a business, writing software, or writing a book—you have no idea what your limits are until you push them. You only know how badly you want it until you look back and see.

You’re consistent.

You keep building the thing that only you can see on the horizon. It’s that image on the back of the napkin that keeps you going. It’s the release of a deep breath you’ll feel when you finally solve the problem, create the value, build the thing.

You know you can see the future, so you keep chipping away at it.

But inevitably, things don’t take shape in the way you anticipate. There’s an obstacle that jolts you as it hits your body, interrupts your groove, and challenges your vision.

Doubt creeps in.

But you’re consistent.

doubt-creeps-in

You go back to what you know. You remember why you started. You find the energy to continue your groove or tweak your approach.

It feels right to have your tools in your hands. And so you keep chipping away at it. Every day. Building.

If you pick up your head and see how far you have to go, it can paralyze you. So instead, you look at how far you’ve come—today, this week, this year.

The fear is always there. So you starve it of oxygen.

With a vision as big as yours, there will be times when you feel like you’re going to crack. There are more splinters out there waiting to snag you.

So, how bad do you want it? Badly enough to be consistent?

3 Pitching Mistakes That Make You Sound “Salesy”

ben-franklin-close“Draw a line down the center of the paper,” said Mr. Brown.

We were on the third hour of back and forth and Brown wasn’t ready to let go without pulling out all the stops.

“Now on the left side of the paper, write ‘Reasons For,’ and on the right side, write the word ‘Reasons Against,’” Brown said. This was the first time I had ever been sold anything in a one-on-one situation. But even I knew the “Ben Franklin” close.

I’ve seen a lot of pitches since then. It’s surprising how many make the same mistakes—especially because they’re so easily avoided.

We’ve all had bad days, or even found ourselves in a rut. So, do a quick self check on these common “salesy” pitch habits:

You’re way too eager.

Slow down, Sparky. We appreciate your enthusiasm, but we can’t understand what you’re talking about, no matter how wide you open your eyes or how broad make your gestures.

verge-lafayette-pitch

When you give your pitch, you’re going to get a shot of adrenaline. And that jolt can be your friend or your worst enemy.

Stay calm. You need to be enthusiastic about your business, but you also need to make good decisions (and stay coherent) during your pitch. A few deep breaths before your next pitch may do the trick. But if you’re really amped up, you may want to try a quick meditation.

Yes, meditation.

Even if you have only 2 minutes. Research has shown that you communicate better and make better decisions when you’re calm.  And meditation has been proven to decrease stress and maintain a calm, confident mindset.

eleven-fifty-pitchYou sound like a robot.

Have you ever had someone impress you with their industry vocabulary or clever sales phrases?

Yeah, me neither.

When you really know your industry and product, it’s easy to get carried away. But using big words or jargon makes it difficult to make a genuine connection.

At the same time, clichés and overused phrases are an easy (and did I mention, ineffective?) fallback strategy. Unless you’re making a joke, don’t ever use any of the following:

  • “We’re world class…” << It’s great that your product is world-class. Instead of claiming this, tell your audience who said you’re “world class” or why they should believe this.
  • “This is cutting-edge.” << Oh snap! Cutting edge, you say? This idiom couldn’t be more ironic. If you actually utter the words “cutting edge,” you’re not cutting edge. Think of something original to say in a way that makes sense for your product.
  • “Can I be honest for a second?” << If you want to build rapport with your audience (hint: you do), you should just go ahead and be honest all the time.
  • “I will offer this only to you on a discount.” << Don’t resort to these kinds of “sales tactics.” They make you seem cheap and disingenuous, and they rarely work.
  • “It’s a paradigm shift.” << No. Just no. Please don’t say this.
  • “Value-added” or “Added-value” << How do you add value? Why does this matter? Talk about the benefit or the pain point you’re solving and you’ll hook the audience’s attention.

I could go on, but you get the point. Bottom line: People do business with people. Pitch accordingly.

developer-town-pitch

You forget the “ask.”

You’ve hooked the audience’s attention. You built intrigue and demonstrated the value of your business. Now bring us home.

I’m sure you’ve done research on your audience (right?), so craft a concise, actionable ask for the end of your pitch. When you deliver your specific request—this could be a sale, funding, a referral, etc.—remind your audience why they will benefit.

pact-safe-pitchThen, shut up.

If you keep talking, you’ll lose your audience. So, give your audience the opportunity to help you.

If you’re using slides, leave your contact information presented for all to see. If you’re presenting to a large audience, keep yourself extremely visible to the room and open to starting new conversations. Book a specific next step and make sure you have a way to contact your new friend (grab their business card).

Hopefully, I gave you some “Reasons Against” being too eager or robotic during your pitches. And when you nail your “Reasons For” during the ask of your next pitch, there is one thing of which I’m certain…

Ben Franklin would be proud.

Did you find these suggestions helpful? Learn what investors have to say about pitching mistakes entrepreneurs make when pitching for Seed Funding.

 

What’s the Biggest Mistake Entrepreneurs Make When Pitching for Seed Funding?

seed funding mistakes

Seed funding isn’t easy to come by, especially when most founders handicap themselves from the get-go.

Despite the wealth of knowledge online and platforms like Angel List and Gust, I hear that founders still make the same mistakes over and over. So, I asked several experienced investors from around the United States:

What are the biggest mistakes founders make when pitching for seed funding?

And here’s what I heard from these seed investors: most entrepreneurs make similar mistakes (and all can be avoided). Read the expert-investor responses below, and follow these 3 strategies to mistake-proof your next pitch. Be sure the read the “Seed Funding Action Items” at the end of each section…

1.) Do Your Homework Before Asking for Seed Funding

“It’s remarkable to me how many entrepreneurs approach us without doing any research in advance,” says Brad Feld, managing director at VC firm, Foundry Group.

And Feld isn’t alone. Most investors also find the lack of prep from entrepreneurs a bit frustrating.

Dave Knox, Partner at The Brandery

Dave_Knox1-283x300

Perhaps the biggest mistake is they way that an entrepreneur approaches. I get numerous requests where an entrepreneur reaches out to me cold. I read email so its not that I skip over these emails. But instead in almost all of these cases, I can tell that the entrepreneur has put ZERO effort into reaching out to me. They don’t customize the request. They don’t take time to read about The Brandery. And they don’t look into my connections or background to see what we have in common. Take the time to get to know an entrepreneur and target the people that are a great fit. If you spend the time to learn more about the investor, it will do wonders to your success rate.

Seed Funding Action Items:

  • Research your contact’s investor fund or investment group website
  • Read and review contact’s personal website (if they have one)
  • Researched the investor on LinkedIn and Angel List for connections or background you may have in common

2.) Focus On Building a Relationship Before Asking for Seed Funding

We’ve talked before about how to get seed funding and this first important step: build a real relationship with your potential investor. And this one sounds simple but executes hard.

Ting Gootee, Partner at Elevate Ventures says, “Seeking outside investors is no different from establishing a long-term relationship where both parties hope to realize certain benefits.” 

Ask any investor out there, and I’ll bet that anyone with a heart would agree.

 Dr. Tony Ratliff, Angel Investor

Tony Ratliff The first number one is that the entrepreneurs try to close the deal on the very first contact or pitch. When really they should be trying to point out the problem, share their story and get us to take the next step. It’s kind of like dating -you don’t ask to get married on the first date. Most investors want to invest in the entrepreneurs, not necessarily the idea because start-ups pivot all the time. So don’t try to get married the first time you approach an investor.

Seed Funding Action Items:

  • Be genuinely interested in other people. Ask questions.
  • Seek to understand your potential investor’s motives. What are they looking for in an investment? How do they want to get involved (beyond writing a check)?
  • Be vulnerable. Share a personal story.

3.) Prepare Your Seed Funding Pitch

Every seed investor has his or her own interests and qualities they look for in a seed investment.

“Have some level of proof of concept,” says Scott Orn, Partner at Lighthouse Capital. Others look for their own must-have ingredients to clear the threshold into that land of “OK, I’m interested…”

Ezra Galston, VC at Chicago Ventures

Ezra Galston

One of the biggest mistakes are entrepreneurs who focus the majority of their time/energy on explaining market sizes or revenue models or other ethereal subjects. We will spend our time researching your market and drawing our own conclusions. We care about how an entrepreneur executes and want to hear data points on accomplishments, growth, and traction, whether those take the form of revenue, users, or team. But more than bullets, we care about how those accomplishments happened – because, again, the focus is on executional ability

 Andy White, Partner at the VegasTech Fund

Andy White

There are a ton of great products out there that no one knows or cares about. You have to show that you understand your market and the demand for a solution to a big problem. Then you can show off your really cool tool.

Seed Funding Action Items:

  • Research your industry inside and out.
  • Practice your pitch with a trusted advisor.
  • Do you know what your investor is most interested in learning about your business? If not, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

The most important thing is to keep improving your pitch for seed funding. If you a potential investor decides to pass, follow up and ask why. It’s ok to request feedback on your pitch and presentation, too.

So, when you venture out to raise seed capital, don’t pass up the opportunity to learn something.

Have you made your own mistakes in your quest for seed funding? What lessons have you learned?

Learn more about seed funding and startup fundraising with Verge! Sign up for our email list for weekly tips and tricks from the experts.