13 Ways to Keep Investors Interested Post-Pitch

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

What’s your best tip for keeping the conversation open with investors post-pitch?

 

1. Treat Your Followup Like a Sales Campaign

Send them a follow-up email using a tool like Yesware to ensure that the email is active and they opened it. A couple weeks later, send another email with a link to exciting news about your company. Did they click on the link? This will help gauge their interest level, even if they don’t respond right away. – Syed BalkhiOptinMonster

 

2. Forecast and Track

To keep the conversation open with investors post initial pitch, emphasize a key business metric and the near-term forecast. In a follow-up communication, be sure to compare how the business is tracking to that forecasted key metric. This will not only give investors something to look forward to, but it will show how you are executing the plan. – Eddie LouShiftgig 

 

3. Keep Them Updated, But Don’t Be in Pursuit

After your meeting, make sure to keep these investors updated but don’t pursue them. Let them know your process (e.g., “We’re in meetings for two more weeks and then we’ll make decisions”) and try to gain the power in the relationship. The more they need to chase you, the more likely you can raise money. – Aaron SchwartzModify Watches 

 

4. Understand Their Doubts and Address Them

By showing that you are cognizant of their doubts and are working to address them, you show you’re willing to listen and will adjust your strategies to fit their concerns. If they see progress in the areas where they had doubts, they’ll be more willing to work with you and to trust your vision. – Marcela De VivoBrilliance 

 

 

5. Get Creative With Your Followup

With so many emails being exchanged in a day, I prefer to follow up with investors in a unique and creative way. Sending a video message helps convey more of my personality than can come through in an email and adds a more human element to the conversion. – Mark KrassnerExpectful 

 

 

6. Offer to Help Your Investors

Keep the conversation going with investors by looking for ways that you can actually help them. Investors won’t usually expect this type of behavior, and it fosters a much better relationship than if you follow up just to hound them for an investment in your company. Before asking for an individual to invest in you, put forth a helping effort to show them you are worth investing in. – Arian RadmandTurnGram 

 

7. Always Determine the Next Step

To keep the conversation going, you need a reason to follow up. Ask, “What would our next step be?” If they say they’ll get back to you, offer to follow up in a week if you don’t hear from them. If the investor asks you to send over some financial projections or market research, get on it right away. Keep up that momentum until you get the term sheet! – David CiccarelliVoices.com 

 

8. Be Nice

Investors are people, too. They want to invest in entrepreneurs almost as much as they do in companies. Be kind and gentle to investors, even if they do not respond in kind. If you are turned down by a fund, don’t be belligerent or resentful. Instead, be grateful and thank them for the opportunity. You never know when they have a portfolio company that is looking for something like you have. – Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors 

 

9. Send Updates on Progress

Share the progress you’ve made in an email update that shows quantitative progress when it’s made. The focus on results is an excuse to contact them while illustrating your value and worth if they were to invest in your startup. – Angela RuthDue 

 

 

10. Be Emphatic, Not Desperate

Being energetic, motivated and positive about your company and its goals can keep an investor engaged. Be careful, however, to keep the dialogue emphatic, rather than desperate. It can be very easy to go off-rails and start coming off as an owner who is in need, rather than one who wants support and a true partnership. Neediness is not an attractive quality to an investor. – Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

 

11. Connect at Networking Events

While you don’t want to stalk your potential investors, you can find out where they will be and participate in those events to get more face time away from presenting and pitching. This can stimulate further discussion. – Zach BinderRanklab 

 

 

12. Plan Out a Series of Announcements to Send

You pitched a new investor — now it’s time to keep them hooked by showing them momentum, even after your initial chat. Before you work to raise funding, develop a month-by-month plan with a series of announcements — whether it be ARR growth, customer additions or product expansions — that can show company momentum and act as a touchpoint to keep those conversations going after the pitch. – Stan GarberScout RFP 

 

13. Tell Them What They Want to Know

If an investor is interested in your company, you don’t need to keep the conversation going because they will stay actively engaged. If an investor isn’t really sold on what you’re doing but is close, you need to leave the pitch meeting with a solid grasp of the one milestone the investor cares about. Hold off on updates until you can tell them you have blown past the milestone in record time. – Jacob ChapmanGelt Venture Capital 

Content Marketing Magic for Business Growth with Brian Clark of Copyblogger

Your audience is the lifeblood of your business. Without them, you have no one to sell to. However, too many entrepreneurs build a product before they bother to build an audience, let alone consider whether their audience would actually want to buy their product.

Brian Clark built all of his businesses by creating an audience first, and he’s become a true master at growing audiences by delivering outstanding content. After founding Copyblogger in 2006 and turning it into the “content marketing bible” it is today, Clark started Rainmaker Digital to serve as the parent company for all of his related online businesses. He’s even begun branching out into podcasting with his insanely popular shows Rainmaker.fm and Unemployable.

Clark attributes much of his success to the power of listening to his audience’s desires and building products to satisfy those desires. In our interview, he opens up about how he began his content marketing empire, how he continues to evolve it today, and why building an audience should be your number one priority. He even has some insightful things to say about the surprising benefits of being “unemployable.”

I’m so grateful Clark took the time to share his story and his wisdom with the Powderkeg community. For more actionable advice and outstanding content from Clark and his team, I highly recommend tuning into the Rainmaker.fm and Unemployable podcasts. You can also connect with Clark on Twitter @brianclark. Enjoy the show!

In this episode with Jeff Leventhal, you’ll learn:

  • The unexpected benefits of being “unemployable” (8:33)
  • Why you need to build an audience before doing anything else (14:52))
  • How big “level-up” moments can change your career (18:47)
  • Tips for building a business with agile development principles (24:05)
  • The importance of creating robust processes (32:11)
  • Why you can’t let new technology distract you from the fundamentals (36:56)

These show notes were originally posted on Powderkeg

Please enjoy this conversation with Brian Clark!

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This episode of Powderkeg is brought to you by DeveloperTown. If you’re a business leader trying to turn a great idea into a product with traction, this is for you.

DeveloperTown works with clients ranging from entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 companies who want to build and launch an app or digital product. They’re able to take the process they use with early stage companies to help big companies move like a startup.

So if you have an idea for a web or mobile app, or need help identifying the great ideas within your company, go to developertown.com/powderkeg.

If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.

Brian Clark Quotes from This Episode of Powderkeg:

[ctt template=”5″ link=”7pfFj” via=”no” ]“You don’t have to be a funded startup to buy into the agile processes the Valley is in love with, because they just make sense.” — Brian Clark[/ctt]

[ctt template=”1″ link=”7hUR4″ via=”no” ]“It can be tempting to make the quick buck, but I was never going to do that, and I think that’s why we’ve never had a product fail. It’s always about the audience first.” — Brian Clark[/ctt]

[ctt template=”5″ link=”9d35D” via=”no” ]“Don’t claim that it’s great. Show that it’s great.” — Brian Clark[/ctt]

[ctt template=”1″ link=”l27ma” via=”no” ]“Email is the transactional channel. You’ve got to build that email list.” — Brian Clark[/ctt]

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Companies and Organizations:

Rainmaker Digital

ExactTarget

Salesforce

McKinsey & Company

Software and Apps:

Basecamp

Periscope

Websites:

Copyblogger

WordPress

StudioPress

Podcasts:

Unemployable

Rainmaker.fm

Books and Magazines:

Fast Company

Trust Agents

The Impact Equation

Permission Marketing

Spark

The Lean Entrepreneur

Content Inc.

People:

Chris Brogan

Julien Smith

Tony Clark

Seth Godin

Joe Pulizzi

Did you enjoy this conversation? Thank Brian on Twitter!

If you enjoyed this session and have 3 seconds to spare, let Brian Clark know via Twitter by clicking on the link below:

Click here to say hi and thank Brian on twitter!

COMMENTS?

What stood out most to you about what Brian shares in this podcast?

For me, it’s why you need to build an audience before doing anything else.

You? Leave a comment below.

WANT MORE?

To subscribe to the podcast, please use the links below:

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If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and its ranking in iTunes incredibly! Thank you so much!

These show notes were originally posted on Powderkeg. For more episodes and show notes, check out the Powderkeg Podcast official website. 

Startup Strategies from a 5-Exit Founder and NYC Venture Partner

Knowledge comes with experience, and Jeff Leventhal has 25 years of experience in the tech startup world, including leading five companies from idea to exit and investing in many others. It’s an understatement to say he’s learned a few things on his entrepreneurial journey.

Leventhal’s great professional passion has been using technology to facilitate the delivery of professional services. His current iteration on solving this problem is WorkRails, a SaaS solution that helps other software companies sell and deliver their products. He’s also a Partner at BOLDstart Ventures, a “first check” investor for enterprise software founders.

Leventhal is great at telling engaging stories, and he transfers much of his wisdom through personal anecdotes. He shares some of his best tales in our interview, providing insights on acting in harmony with your internal wiring, socializing your business ideas and evaluating feedback, and building a team that will impress investors.

My thanks go out to Leventhal for letting me pick his brain and giving me with a few good laughs during our conversation. Check out Leventhal’s LinkedIn page to learn more about his long and impressive career, and have fun listening to this episode of Powderkeg: Igniting Startups.

In this episode with Jeff Leventhal, you’ll learn:

  • Why big career decisions often come down to your personal “wiring” (5:07)
  • A cheap, easy way to perform market research (11:12)
  • The six “value creation moments” of a startup (14:38)
  • How to win over VCs with the strength of your team (21:52)
  • High-level tips for socializing your ideas and receiving criticism (27:34)
  • Why New York City is a natural environment for entrepreneurs to flourish (33:44)

These show notes were originally posted on Powderkeg

Please enjoy this conversation with Jeff Leventhal!

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This episode of Powderkeg is brought to you by DeveloperTown. If you’re a business leader trying to turn a great idea into a product with traction, this is for you.

DeveloperTown works with clients ranging from entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 companies who want to build and launch an app or digital product. They’re able to take the process they use with early stage companies to help big companies move like a startup.

So if you have an idea for a web or mobile app, or need help identifying the great ideas within your company, go to developertown.com/powderkeg.

If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.

Jeff Leventhal Quotes from This Episode of Powderkeg:

“Closing doors may force you to leverage skills inside you that you didn’t even know you had.” — Jeff Leventhal

“When you’re doing a startup, nobody wants to hear from you. Be prepared for people to tell you your idea sucks.” — Jeff Leventhal

“I look at my business plan as a work of art. The same way a musician looks at a song, or an artist looks at a canvas, my business plan is my canvas, and there’s vulnerability when you show it to somebody.” — Jeff Leventhal

“Entrepreneurship is not a career choice. It chooses you. It chose me, and I’ve done it, and it’s hard.” — Jeff Leventhal

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Companies and Organizations:

Information Builders

Amazon

Hewlett-Packard

VC Firms:

BOLDstart Ventures

Work-Bench

Coworking Spaces:

WeWork

Software and Apps:

WorkRails

Universities:

Cornell University

Stanford University

Trade Shows:

PC Expo

People:

Jonathan Lehr

Jeff Bezos

Did you enjoy this conversation? Thank Jeff on Twitter!

If you enjoyed this session and have 3 seconds to spare, let Jeff Leventhal know via Twitter by clicking on the link below:

Click here to say hi and thank Jeff on twitter!

COMMENTS?

What stood out most to you about what Jeff shares in this podcast?

For me, it’s why big career decisions often come down to your personal “wiring”.

You? Leave a comment below.

WANT MORE?

To subscribe to the podcast, please use the links below:

Click Here to Subscribe via iTunes
Click Here to Subscribe via RSS (non-iTunes feed)

If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and its ranking in iTunes incredibly! Thank you so much!

These show notes were originally posted on Powderkeg. For more episodes and show notes, check out the Powderkeg Podcast official website. 

Powerful CEO Habits for Getting the Most Out of Networking Events

Meeting the right people at the right time can catapult your business to the next level. But it’s difficult to make connections that go deeper than a LinkedIn invite, and it’s far too easy to play it safe at networking events, which makes forging authentic relationships that much harder.

David Olk is the co-founder of ShopKeep, a point-of-sale software company that he grew from the two original cofounders to nearly 300 people. ShopKeep is growing into one of the country’s largest B2B SaaS companies and Olk sourced and closed on the first $100m of outside capital while growing the the business while building the team and forging the strategic partnerships that got the company to scale. He now sits on the board of ShopKeep and works with the talented executive team as the business matures. That’s freed up David to start another company, Voray, a platform that facilitates small-group networking dinners.

A Voray event is hosted by a key influencer in an industry who invites a select group of their close friends and colleagues to help create new connections between them. The intimate, curated nature of Voray events fosters meaningful and long-lasting business relationships between people who share common goals and have actually spoken in person.

Olk has become a master connector over the course of his career and genuinely loves to help people build relationships. In our interview, he shares many of his secrets for meaningful networking and effective business building, including the most surefire ways early-stage businesses can find traction and how to work with four different types of people you’ll find in your network.

I’m very grateful that Olk agreed to come on the show and teach the community how to create more valuable business relationships—a topic I’m personally passionate about. Enjoy the episode, and follow Olk on Twitter or through his personal blog for more insights into the mind of a networking expert.

In this episode with David Olk, you’ll learn:

  • How connections can change your career path for the better 
  • Keys to finding success with an early-stage business
  • The importance of checking your ego and emotions
  • The four types of people in your network and how to interact with them
  • How and why to say “no” sometimes

These show notes were originally posted on Powderkeg

Please enjoy this conversation with David Olk!

powderkeg subscribe on itunes

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This episode of Powderkeg is brought to you by DeveloperTown. If you’re a business leader trying to turn a great idea into a product with traction, this is for you.

DeveloperTown works with clients ranging from entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 companies who want to build and launch an app or digital product. They’re able to take the process they use with early stage companies to help big companies move like a startup.

So if you have an idea for a web or mobile app, or need help identifying the great ideas within your company, go to developertown.com/powderkeg.

If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.

David Olk Quotes from This Episode of Powderkeg:

“It’s inspiring to be a part of something. I really enjoy creating things, building things, especially if they help other people.” — David Olk

“Success for an early-stage business really depends on your ability to play the game well while listening to what people are saying in the stands.” — David Olk

“As an entrepreneur, part of your job is taking the emotion out of the room and working strategically with other people.” — David Olk

“People respect you if you learn how to say ‘no’ properly.” — David Olk

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Companies and Organizations:

Voray

IAC

Home Shopping Network

CalPERS

PwC

Goldman Sachs

Gerson Learning Group

Bloomberg

Private Equity Firms:

Warburg Pincus

Apollo Global Management

VC Firms:

Betaworks

Upfront Ventures

Software and Apps:

ShopKeep

Websites:

Ticketmaster

LendingTree

Interval International

Kickstarter

Citysearch

Gifts

Mahalo

Smart Host

WayUp

Universities:

Yale University

Tulane University

Books:

Essentialism

Courses:

Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad Course

People:

Steve Blank

Perry Chen

Fred Wilson

Andy Weissman

Jason Richelson

Kara Nortman

Jason Rapp

Barry Diller

Victor Kaufman

Mark Gerson

Jack Welch

Evan Hammer

Michael Roderick

Ryan Levy

Michael Lazerow

Did you enjoy this conversation? Thank David on Twitter!

If you enjoyed this session and have 3 seconds to spare, let David Olk know via Twitter by clicking on the link below:

Click here to say hi and thank David on twitter!

COMMENTS?

What stood out most to you about what David shares in this podcast?

For me, it’s how connections can change your career path for the better.

You? Leave a comment below.

WANT MORE?

To subscribe to the podcast, please use the links below:

Click Here to Subscribe via iTunes
Click Here to Subscribe via RSS (non-iTunes feed)

If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and its ranking in iTunes incredibly! Thank you so much!

These show notes were originally posted on Powderkeg. For more episodes and show notes, check out the Powderkeg Podcast official website. 

Proven Business Leadership Habits from the CEO of SendGrid

It takes guts, grit, and an uncommon dose of wisdom to lead a business team. Sameer Dholakia has all three qualities, plus two decades of leadership experience in enterprise software.

Dholakia is the CEO of SendGrid, one of the world’s premier email delivery services. SendGrid serves 50,000 customers and delivers 1.3 billion emails each day—more than double Twitter’s daily Tweet volume. In addition to its classic transactional email API, SendGrid more recently rolled out an email marketing product that has already been adopted by 5,000 users.

Dholakia is an experienced tech executive with a love of history and a passion for building strong teams and big businesses in the enterprise software industry. In our interview, he shares his most effective leadership habits, including the importance of humility, how to foster an outstanding company culture, and strategies for turning around a dire financial situation.

I’m so grateful Dholakia took the time to share so much of his knowledge and experience with the Powderkeg community, and I admire his resolve to always keep improving himself and his company. Connect with him on Twitter @spdholakia to share your appreciation, and enjoy the show.

In this episode with Sameer Dholakia, you’ll learn:

  • How you can begin using email marketing tools for your startup (13:40)
  • Strategies for launching a new product within your existing brand (21:27)
  • The only mistake in business you can’t recover from (33:26)
  • Why you should be a humble leader (36:30)
  • How to dig yourself out of a bad financial situation (42:48)
  • The two biggest challenges SaaS companies face (47:08)
  • How to create an exceptional company culture (53:54).

These show notes were originally posted on Powderkeg

Please enjoy this conversation with Sameer Dholakia!

powderkeg subscribe on itunes

powderkeg-subscribe-stitcher

This episode of Powderkeg is brought to you by DeveloperTown. If you’re a business leader trying to turn a great idea into a product with traction, this is for you.

DeveloperTown works with clients ranging from entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 companies who want to build and launch an app or digital product. They’re able to take the process they use with early stage companies to help big companies move like a startup.

So if you have an idea for a web or mobile app, or need help identifying the great ideas within your company, go to developertown.com/powderkeg.

If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.

Sameer Dholakia Quotes from This Episode of Powderkeg:

“It’s a lot easier to look back at history to help you predict the future than look into a crystal ball and try to guess.” — Sameer Dholakia

“Keeping your eye on your acquisition costs, sales and marketing spend relative to your profitability, and not burning a ton of cash in that process, is just good business.” — Sameer Dholakia

“There’s a deep humility that I find in reading the bios of the greatest leaders, because they all recognize it wasn’t just them.” — Sameer Dholakia

“The most important thing that you can do is figure out how to get the most leverage and impact from the precious hours and minutes that you’re working.” — Sameer Dholakia

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Companies and Organizations:

SendGrid

WeWork

Digital Marketing Association

McCormack & Dodge

Oracle Financial Services

Anaplan

Adaptive Insights

ADP

Reynolds & Reynolds

PeopleSoft

Workday

Salesforce

Siebel

ExactTarget

Responsys

Marketo

HubSpot

IBM

Silverpop

Adobe

Trilogy

Citrix

Startup Accelerators:

Techstars

Software and Apps:

Pandora

Spotify

PayPal

Stripe

Books:

Shoe Dog

People:

Dave Duffield

Marc Benioff

Joe Liemandt

Phil Knight

Mark Templeton

Did you enjoy this conversation? Thank Sameer on Twitter!

If you enjoyed this session and have 3 seconds to spare, let Sameer Dholakia know via Twitter by clicking on the link below:

Click here to say hi and thank Sameer on twitter!

COMMENTS?

What stood out most to you about what Sameer shares in this podcast?

For me, it’s how you can begin using email marketing tools for your startup.

You? Leave a comment below.

WANT MORE?

To subscribe to the podcast, please use the links below:

Click Here to Subscribe via iTunes
Click Here to Subscribe via RSS (non-iTunes feed)

To download the PDF file for the full transcript of this podcast, please use the link below:

Click Here to Download PDF file

If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and its ranking in iTunes incredibly! Thank you so much!

These show notes were originally posted on Powderkeg. For more episodes and show notes, check out the Powderkeg Podcast official website. 

How to Invest In Your Talents, Build Your SaaS Team, and Tell Your Startup Story w/ Kristian Andersen

Powderkeg Podcast with Kristian Andersen, Partner at High Alpha

In this episode you’ll learn from Kristian Andersen, serial entrepreneur, investor, and Partner at Venture Studio High Alpha:

  • Kristian Andersen SaaS LeadershipWhy geography is not a factor in the success of your start up. (6:30)
  • Why developing your narrative can mean the difference between success and failure. (22:00)
  • What separates the winners from the losers in terms of mindset.  (27:30)
  • The importance of gratitude. (32:00)
  • How to hire A players into your company. (37:00)


Show notes for this episode are also available on the Powder Keg Podcast Website Here >>

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Key Business Leaders:

Startup Books:

Key Entrepreneurship and Leadership Quotes:

“Really, really good entrepreneurs are fundamentally really, really good story tellers.”

“Investing in people is a really, really quick way to effectively build your own brand.”

“Talent is the atomic unit of success.”

Powderkeg Podcast Transcript:

KRISTIAN ANDERSEN and MATT HUNCKLER

 

Matt: You have been very integral in helping several different start up and technology communities connect, grow and nurture that progress along the way; and much of that has been through your work with Studio Science – formerly KA+A. And I have been lucky enough to work with you on a handful of projects, several projects, over the years, with different tech companies and fast-growing agencies; and I remember… do you remember the first time we met?

Kristian: I’m embarrassed to tell you that I don’t recall the first time we met. We’ve known each other a long time.

Matt: We have known each other a long time.

Kristian: So I can certainly cite some more pivotal interactions, but tell me: what was the first time we met?

Matt: So I mean obviously I remember this better because I was a nobody at the time.

Kristian: Well, we were almost certainly both nobodies at the time.

Matt: Definitely not true. You still had the same swagger that you have today, and it was clear that you knew your stuff; and I definitely remember that, because I had just sold my company down in Bloomington doing what you do on a large scale, on a very small scale for small companies. And so I listened very intently when I first met you.

Kristian: Was it BlueLock?

Matt: It was with Brian Wolff.

Kristian: Brian Wolff, yeah, right.

Matt: So Brian, who’s an investor in Gravity Ventures with you, was my mentor; and we were able to meet up with you at your old Broad Ripple office, in the corner office.

Kristian: Back in the hood, yeah.

Matt: Yeah. Max Yoder welcomed me as the intern.

Kristian: That’s a pretty good person to have meet you for sure.

Matt: Absolutely; who of course we hired in to do Orr Fellowship a year later. So a lot of connections happened in KA+A.

Kristian: Yeah. He was the big one though. That was a coo for the Orr Fellowship…

Matt: Absolutely.

Kristian: To get Max, and it was a coo for us to get him. He walked in as a wet-behind-the-year, kind of junior. It was interesting; he applied for a design internship position, and was not studying design. We actually couldn’t find any relevant skills that he had that were applicable to our business, but you know, some people just make that big an impact; and he walked out and I said we’ve got to figure out a way to make a place for him.

Matt: Yeah? Absolutely.

Kristian: It was a good decision too.

Matt: I’m glad you did. I don’t think I would have… I wouldn’t have known him prior to the Orr Fellowship hiring process if that wasn’t the case. Same with Cruse

Kristian: Yeah?

Matt: Cruise was an Orr Fellow of that class.

Kristian: Yeah, that was an exceptional vintage.

Matt: Yes.

Kristian: Yeah.

Matt: But that was the year that I met you, and you certainly made an impression on me at that meeting and in the following meeting, which of course was over oysters at Bruges; which is kind of your… it will always stick out in my mind. It was the first time I ever had oysters.

Kristian: Were they mussels or oysters?

Matt: Mussels, of course they were mussels.

Kristian: I just want to represent the brand.

Matt: Way to represent the brand. All right, that’s good. That’s good. Well, you know, one of the things that I immediately noticed about you was what a passion for entrepreneurship you have; and not just here in Indianapolis, but all over the country and all over the world – which is where a lot of your clients are now, is pretty much all over the place. So you’ve built up over the last – what, 11, 12 years with Studio Science?

Kristian: I’m kind of like an ageing movie star at this point. The foreigners, right? We’re not, there’s conflicting reports on when the actual launch date was, but yeah, we’ve been at this for really over 13 years.

Matt: So why is it important, or why do you have such a passion for entrepreneurship and people starting companies outside of Silicon Valley, and outside of New York?

Kristian: Yeah, I mean my passion really isn’t limited to folks that are doing it outside of those geographies, right?

Matt: Sure.

Kristian: I happen to have a deep affection and a lot of respect for folks that are doing it in those geographies as well. I think what I find interesting about entrepreneurship in kind of less visible locales, is that it’s a slightly different game, right? And I’ve always had a penchant for the underdog, I guess. It might stem from a diminutive stature; that’s what my mom says. I’m not sure, but it’s… growing up in Arkansas, which is a really kind of unbalanced, pretty economically repressed and depressed state, right? So it comes in as a solid 49 typically on most meaningful measures of economic vitality. Yet even in a state that, you know, is much maligned for being kind of behind the times, you look at certain pockets of a place like that – and it’s certainly not unique to Arkansas. How you explain the rise of, you know, the largest retailer in the world, right? How do you explain the rise of one of the largest transportation logistics companies?

Matt: Which is Walmart and…?

Kristian: Walmart, JD Hines, Tyson Chicken.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: You know, and Dillard’s Department Stores, Acxiom, which was really kind of the original big data company, right?

Matt: Yep.

Kristian: Came out of Little Rock. And out of really, kind of the most unlikely places – and actually you obviously see that around the world – that necessity is the mother of invention, right? And that success is not limited to zip code, right? But I think most people, specifically kind of aspiring entrepreneurs and people who are still kind of trying to feel their way through kind of their personal ambition levels, feel that they have to move, they have to go somewhere else, they have to locate to what has historically been thought of as the center of power, in order to build a big, meaningful business; and the truth of the matter is that’s not true, and I would argue that it’s never been true. I would say it’s less true today than ever. You know, technology has been such a great democratizer in terms of locale; but kind of observing this and being kind of an amateur student of economic development – specifically outside of kind of tier one cities – it dawned on me that there are really, really big opportunities. I mean in the finance world they would call maybe arbitrage opportunities, right?

Matt: Yes.

Kristian: And rather it be Indiana, or parts of Ohio, or Kentucky, or Oregon; I mean pick your state, right? Not all of California is Northern California, right?

Matt: Absolutely.

Kristian: There’s a lot of areas in the rest of that state that this is true for as well. I really wanted to help carry the torch and tell the story about the power of entrepreneurship, and how it can transform communities, and the economic development prospects of kind of historically depressed economies.

Matt: Well, you’re doing a really good job of carrying the torch here in Indianapolis; and one of the recent articles that you’re quoted in quoted you as saying: ‘We used to feel like we had to apologize for being located in Indianapolis, and that’s not the case anymore.’

Kristian: Yeah.

Matt: Do you talk a little bit about that?

Kristian: Yeah, we say now we think of it as a competitive advantage, right?

Matt: Absolutely.

Kristian: And you know, it’s important to kind of separation the kind of ra ra cheerleading from fact, right? Because there is a dynamic where you do have to kind of fake it till you make it a little bit. You have to do that as a person. My dad used to always say, you know, ‘act as if’. Right? You know, dress for the job you want, right? And there is some of that that is true for individuals, cities, states, and you know, countries, right?

Matt: Is there an entrepreneur that has done that well, that you can think of?

Kristian: Uh, probably all of them. You know what I mean?

Matt: Yeah. Absolutely.

Kristian: Because really, really good entrepreneurs – and I’ve strayed away from your initial question – but really, really good entrepreneurs are fundamentally really, really good story tellers.

Matt: Yes.

Kristian: Right? And it doesn’t mean that they’re telling stories that aren’t true, it means that they are telling the most interesting, most compelling, most articulate story possible. So is there an example of an entrepreneur who faked it till they made it?

Matt: That really stands out to you?

Kristian: Well, the question would be give me an example of a really successful entrepreneur that did not do that? And that’s when I’d have to go do some homework.

Matt: Sure.

Kristian: Right? You know, as a general rule, they’re phenomenal story tellers, and they’re having to make a silk purse out of sows ears in most cases, right? They don’t have enough money, they didn’t necessarily go to the right school, or have the right degree. They’re trying to sell a vision for a product that doesn’t exist yet to customers they haven’t found yet. Right? So, no, I think that is actually a critical – and I’m making a very clear distinction between lying and being a good story teller, and being able to cast vision, and being able to get people to follow you. Lying I have zero tolerance for; but telling a good story, being able to craft a vision and articulate that well, and get potential customers or employees or investors excited is an absolutely critical skill. And at the state level – if you look at a state like Indiana – you can’t literally start with nothing. Right? You have to have some raw material, whether it be your brain or deep pocketbooks, or as, you know, Peter Thiel talks about, you’ve got to know a secret that very few other people know. You’ve got to have one or more of those things to really spin things up, and in Indiana we were really blessed by having all the normal stuff; highly educated, you know, workforce, the good old-fashioned – not myth – but kind of fact of the Midwestern work ethic.

Matt: Yep.

Kristian: And a number of businesses that had created kind of micro clusters for us to take advantage of from an entrepreneurial perspective, and that’s why when today I say we used to have to kind of explain away why we’re based in Indi, today we lead with that because in so many parts of the country now this particular city is recognized certainly as being a hotbed of marketing technology. Right? And it’s not limited purely to marketing tech, but certainly that’s kind of the sharp end of the spear.

Matt: Sure.

Kristian: We’ve had a lot of success. Certainly a lot of that owed to ExactTarget, but it really transcends ExactTarget, as you know. Many companies before put a dent in the universe here, including Interactive Intelligence and Software Artistry.

Matt: Aprimo.

Kristian: Aprimo, and so on and so forth. And through that we’ve built such a dynamic base of talent, managerial expertise, a large hiring base; it’s why just over the course of the past few months a number of companies that are headquartered out of state have begun opening offices – a pretty rapid clip here, right? To take advantage of that arbitrage.

Matt: Yeah, absolutely. Well, it kind of goes to the point of sort of branding your city, and being able to get everyone behind a single message. And sort of that vision casting aspect of entrepreneurship – you’re going to probably cringe when I say this word – is a little bit of developing a personal brand.

Kristian: Yeah. I do cringe a little bit when you say it, yeah. I know exactly what you mean.

Matt: I knew it would, but you know, I don’t know what other phrase… Until you come up with a better phrase than personal branding, you know, I do think that the personal brand of an entrepreneur is very important, and clearly impacts the way the company is branded. Can you talk a little bit about what you coach entrepreneurs – whether they’re young or not – but first time entrepreneurs, as they’re going about vision casting and building their pitch deck, and going out there raising money or building prototypes; what are some of the things that you frequently encourage entrepreneurs, or course correct with entrepreneurs, around branding their start up?

Kristian: Yeah. Well you know, the irony is one of the things that will kind of damage your career early on – if you’re wanting to position yourself as an entrepreneur company building – is to spend too much time and effort trying to figure out how to brand yourself as an entrepreneur or a company building. Right? It’s always… used to be a turn off. Now, the older I get the more empathy I have; but it always struck me as interesting or odd when a 22-year old walk handed me their business card and it would say kind of ‘serial entrepreneur’ or something like that on it. Right? I’m sure there are 22-year olds who are legitimately serial entrepreneurs – there’s not a lot of them. You know, at the end of the day the best marketing is a great product. Right? So this is true for software companies. This is true for automobiles. This is true for cities that are trying to figure out municipal branding. And it’s also true for people.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: Right? So those who are focused on kind of the traditional approach to personal branding, which is all about building your own mission statement and relentlessly being present and visible on social media, and showing up to every conference, and trying to get on the panel…

Matt: Right.

Kristian: And so on, and so forth. If all of that energy was being funneled toward building a product – and I mean in some cases the product being a person. Right?

Matt: Yep.

Kristian: How you create value in the world. Right? I think you would see a lot more success. And I’ll give you just a finite example, right? The way to build a great personal brand is to help people. Right? So that may be the people you work with, it may be the person you work for today, it may be the people who you are trying to hire or attract into your company, it could be people in a non-profit space, people at your church. Whatever the case might be, right?

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: Investing in people is a really, really quick way to effectively build your own brand. If you have a reputation for being somebody who gets stuff done, who when people ask for help delivers that help, that is so much more effective in establishing credibility and boosting your visibility, rather than just being noticed. Right? And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t blog and be active on Twitter and… of course you should, right? But all of that should be, I believe, done through the lens of ‘How am I helping? How am I creating value?’ Right? ‘How am I making the world a better place? How am I advancing the agenda of my organization or the city I live in?’ And I think that’s where people most often go wrong; and I can cite a whole lot of examples – and I won’t bore you with the details – but it seems like a simple truth, but it’s one that people have a hard time grasping.

Matt: Well, lets get a little specific there, because I really like that idea of entrepreneur as a product. Right? Before maybe they even have a product built, and an entrepreneur viewing themselves as a product. So if entrepreneurs out there are viewing themselves as a product, what do you see – at this point in time, 2015 – what are people out there hungry for in terms of a product as it pertains to an entrepreneur as a product? What kind of entrepreneurs does the world need right now?

Kristian: You know, unfortunately what the world needs and what people are hungry for are rarely the same thing.

Matt: That’s a good point.

Kristian: People are not particularly rational, as you know, and have a hard time kind of playing the long game, right? So you know, I fear my answer will be kind of unsatisfactory because it’s so banal and obvious; but the simple version is we need more people doing, and less people pontificating. Right? So, I mean we see this, you know, everywhere; in our business and the companies that we work with and the companies that we’re talking to from an investment perspective. Execution trumps everything, right? Ideas are cheap. You and I meet with people every day that have ideas. I’ve never met anyone that didn’t have at least one hundred million-dollar idea rattling around in their brain.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: Right? Ideas are cheap. You know, in terms of currency, it’s people that actually kind of advance, move the ball forward; and that means rolling up your sleeves and being prepared to face a whole lot of rejection and casting aside any sense of entitlement one might have about what the world owes them, or what they deserve.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: Once again, that’s human nature, right? I mean, we are kind of broken people innately, right? And we constantly have to battle selfishness. Right? I want. I deserve. Why me?

Matt: Sure, sure.

Kristian: So on and so forth, and I think the people who end up being most successful are folks that get to work building something that has value that transcends themselves. Right?

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: And once again this goes back to how you do personal branding well. I can tell you how to do it wrong. Right? If it’s focused purely on you building your CV, making sure you’re the most visible, brightest light in the room….

Matt: Mm hm.

Kristian: Over time that pays; you may get some pops from it, but it pays diminishing returns over time. Humility is so underrated.

Matt: Yep.

Kristian: It is unbelievable, and people talk about it all the time as if it’s like this core value that everyone shares; and I’ll tell you, true humility is in extraordinarily short supply.

Matt: It’s hard to come by. Hopefully a little less hard to come by here in the Midwest.

Kristian: Yeah. You know what, there’s even this perverse arrogance in the Midwest about their humility; they love to talk about how humble they are.

Matt: It’s true. It’s true.

Kristian: Right?

Matt: Guilty right now.

Kristian: Yeah. Well no, it’s interesting; I was on a road trip with someone the other day and we were kind of comparing the different geographies and what’s true about them, and I was making this case for Midwestern humility, and he was like, ‘You know, even in the Midwest you see humility perverted into vanity, where it becomes this bad…’

Matt: Look how humble I am.

Kristian: Look how humble I am. It’s a little bit like when somebody gets their Oscar and they, you know, any time somebody says, ‘I’m so humbled by…’ they actually mean the exact opposite of that. Right? So it’s another word that is slowly losing its meaning.

Matt: Yeah. That’s true. Well, let’s say that founders out there watching this right now are working on building great product, and they’re building a great team – as best a team they can with whatever money they’re bringing in from their product. There’s still some amount of communication that they need to do in order to continued to attract the right talent, potentially attract investors, and market to clients. What are kind of like – especially in the early stages – what are some of those things, as let’s say a founder’s going out to start the fundraising process; how can they communicate who they are and what they’re about effectively with their brand, or what is to become their brand?

Kristian: I mean once again, I think it goes back to story telling; and I really don’t make a distinction, so I talk about…

Matt: Should there be one story? Should there be many stories?

Kristian: Oh no, there needs to be one story. It certainly can be contextualized for the audience.

Matt: Sure.

Kristian: But no, there needs to be, there should only be one story; and that story needs to live in the product.

Matt: Okay.

Kristian: Not exclusively, but I’m not… we tend to fall into this way of thinking where there’s marketing and there’s product; and those are different things. Right? One is, you know, how you fulfil demand, and the other is how you generate demand; and I tend to think that those are not the same thing. Increasingly, as people purchase experiences – not products – you have to think along the lines that the continuum is different. Right?

Matt: Yep.

Kristian: So the retail experience if there is one, the advertising experience if there is one, the product experience – so actually interacting with what I’m paying money for, the services experience that I’m dealing with; if I have a problem or I need to return it, or something broke. I mean, that’s all the product.

Matt: Sure.

Kristian: And really the most successful products are stores, right? And I mean, if I said: ‘Hey, name the three most interesting dynamic products on the planet?’ Right? Whether you said the Nest thermostat, or Tesla, or a MacBook Pro, or whatever – those are really kind of like living narratives. Right?

Matt: Yeah. Absolutely.

Kristian: I mean literally. It’s a story, and it’s a story that’s constantly being tuned, and it’s constantly being tweaked. So my first point would be that you need to view your product and that experience of consuming it – buying it, consuming it – as part of that narrative. More specifically, in the fundraising process I like to think of the pitch deck as it’s a novel, right? It is hopefully not a work of fiction, but it’s a book. It’s a story; and it has a plotline. Right?

Matt: Okay.

Kristian: That should be clearly articulated. It has a protagonist.

Matt: Mm hm.

Kristian: Right? You’re a product coming to save the day. It has an antagonist; what’s the problem that’s being addressed?

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: What’s the great wrong that has to be righted? It has a de noir, it has a climax, right? The climax may be when that problem gets solved for a particular customer. If you’re talking to investors it might be when there’s liquidity in there, that puts money back in the investors pockets; but I think if entrepreneurs would force themselves to think in terms of the narrative, constantly the narrative. Who’s our hero?

Matt: Mm hm.

Kristian: Who’s are enemy? Right? What’s the great quest or challenge that’s been put in front of us? Right? Kind of the hero’s journey.

Matt: Yeah. I like that.

Kristian:  That goes a really, really long way. And that way when you get nervous, or you need other people to help carry the water and tell the story, you know… We might all give slightly different versions of what happened in Star Wars, but in general we’d be able to tell the same story. Right? And it’s the same thing when you’re raising money, and you’ve got a COO, or if you’ve got a co-founder and you’re split up, or you’re in different planes and your pitching different groups. You want to be singing out of the same hymn book. The same things true when you’re selling to customers. The same things true when you’re recruiting. And this is why the idea of story, living inside of the product, living inside your organization, being a culture, is so critical; because if you’ve got a story that’s properly articulated and codified then it’s not just up to you to be able to tell that story.

Matt: Yeah. Let’s get a little more brass tacks; how long should that story be?

Kristian: Once again, I think you’ve got to contextualize it, right? So, if you’re at a launch festival you’ve got two minutes. It should be two minutes long. Right?

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: You know, if you’re sitting down, recruiting a VP of Sales, you can take a lot longer to tell that story; but you know, if you want to think of it through the kind of rubric of the investor pitch, right? Obviously, less is more. And you know, 10 to 15 slides, following that plot line of who we are, what we do, here’s the problem, here’s how big the problem is – which is a really critical thing that many entrepreneurs get wrong. Right?

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: There are a lot of terrific problems out there, that are real and no one’s going to argue with the fact that they’re real; but if you’re successful in addressing it, in a vacuum it may not be sufficient to build a venture scale business around. One thing, because the one thing that – I’m really on a Peter Thiel kick now, so forgive me – but the one…

Matt: I read Zero to One based on your recommendation.

Kristian: One of the things he points out in that book that I think is critical is that most really, really big ideas, A. seem dumb. Right? Initially.

Matt: Mm hm.

Kristian: And, B. appear to be attacking a problem that’s too small. Right? So you really need to understand how big the opportunity could be. The flip side of that is, folks that are only targeting ten billion dollar minimum total addressable markets I think are missing the boat, because many, many great ideas are great because they actually change consumption habits; they change the way people behave. So trying to size that market before you’ve disrupted it can be an impossibility, and I think if people are too fixated on that it means we’re going to miss out on a lot of great ideas.

Matt: That’s a really good point, and I think that if you can kind of shape that in your story, right? And show… who was it? I don’t remember who was talking about how they did this effectively, but it was literally; in this industry this company did this. In this industry, this company did this. In this industry, no ones done it yet; that’s because we’re doing it. Are there other things that you see that kind of escalate that story to the climax, or sort of the apex moment of the story?

Kristian: Yeah. I mean once again a lot of this is conventional wisdom, but I think we hear it so much that it loses its efficacy.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: You know, another big deal in the story telling process is you really have to… people have to care about you, the individual.

Matt: Right.

Kristian: Before they can care about your product, right? Or even care about the problem that you’re trying to solve.

Matt: How do you make someone care about you.

Kristian: Yeah. That’s a good question. A number of the things that we’ve already touched on, right?

Matt: Sure.

Kristian: So it really comes down to, who do you want to invest in? What are the character traits that exist – and this differs from investor to investor for sure, but there’s some commonality, right? By and large people want to invest in winners, right? Now that seems kind of crass.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: But it’s the absolute fact, and winners have kind of one defining characteristic.

Matt: Mm hm.

Kristian: Are you ready for this?

Matt: I’m ready.

Kristian: Okay. Winners believe that they are going to win.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: Right? So losers think they might win if everything goes according to plan and nothing happens, you know? Nobody screws with them from the outside and the market doesn’t get disrupted by a third party. Winners don’t think about that that stuff.

Matt: They don’t have a Plan B, C, D…

Kristian: As soon as the shoes are laced up, they’re out there. They’re not just trying to win; they believe that they are going to win. Right? I mean Ali is like the greatest example, right?

Matt: Sure. There is an example of humility.

Kristian: Yeah. Well you know what’s interesting, there was lots of things that he knew he wasn’t good at.

Matt: It’s very true.

Kristian: Lots of stuff. Right? He happened to be right about the one thing he believed he was good at. Right? And that was whipping people. So don’t confuse humility with fake self-deprecation, or self-flagellation. That’s not what I mean. You can know you’re really good at something…

Matt: Right.

Kristian: And still manage to be humble in the process. And also baked into that is people want to invest in winners, they want to invest in people who they believe are teachable – because nobody knows it all, right? So coming across, somehow striking that balance where you are confident and self-assured is critical, but also that you are flexible, because we know that you are going to need to be, coachable, teachable. And I’ll tell you, you know you can’t read a book on it, in terms of that person. Right? I mean, it’s like everything else; you’ve got to practice those things. You’ve got to practice being confident.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: You know, it’s all about like, at bats. Right? And that’s why constantly pitching, working on a story, interacting with people, refining your method – in many ways talking yourself into what it is you’re trying to talk other people into.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: Is so critical. I do believe that there are probably some entrepreneurial genes that are passed along from mother to daughter, or father to son; but as a general rule, most of that is a function of training and learning.

Matt: Well if you’re in America the chances are you have some of those genes in you.

Kristian: Yeah. That’s right, that’s right.

Matt: Well so, those are really good pieces, you know, in terms of the character and bringing out that character in telling that story; your own entrepreneurial character as well as the protagonist and antagonist in your story. You know, as you’re going through and developing a relationship, you know one of the things that I’ve always admired about Studio Science is even though I haven’t always been your biggest client – nor have I probably ever been your biggest client – the care that you take in developing that relationship with just little things, you know; like sending gifts. You know, when I was on the front page of the IBJ, you guys were the first people to send a thank you note. Talk to me a little bit about, 1). Where did you get that trait? Because I know it’s not you writing every card, but it comes from you, the founder of the company.

Kristian: Yeah.

Matt: And can you maybe tell me a little bit about why that’s important?

Kristian: Yeah. Well certainly it’s not – as you noted – that’s the culture of Studio Science, and the culture of gratitude is really strong here; some gratefulness, being grateful. And I think we are all, I know we are all really grateful to have the opportunity to do what we do for a living. I mean it’s a really dreamy job.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: You know? And we’ve been successful at it, and we’ve been rewarded along those lines, which has been terrific; but that – at the risk of sounding trite – that’s definitely not why we do it, because there are easier ways to make money.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: As they say. I think everyone here is really grateful, and so it’s… when you are yourself satisfied and content and grateful, and acknowledge the fact that you have a lot of stuff that you may not deserve, it makes it really easier… it makes it a lot easier to be happy for other people.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: Right? Gratefulness is the exact opposite of resentfulness. Right?

Matt: Sure.

Kristian: And so what that leads to, is it leads to a culture of celebration, where you not only want to celebrate kind of your own successes, but you naturally just want to celebrate other people’s as well.

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: Right? I think it’s one of the reason why we’ve been such an active and prolific cheerleader of this community, is that we’re proud to have played some role in its ascension; but more than anything we’re just happy. We’re happy for the people who live here and work here, we’re happy for the people that have those successes. And you ask where it comes from and, you know, I think that in my case – it certainly doesn’t all come from me here – but in my case I was certainly raised in an environment where I was reminded to be grateful. Right? Where that was part of the culture of my family, to give thanks, and to give thanks religiously – if you’ll pardon the pun. And that spills over into every aspect of your life, right? It does not mean that I am never resentful, it doesn’t mean that I never look at somebody and go, ‘I sure would like a car like that someday.’ But I think it’s sincere, and I think interesting, it’s gratifying to hear you say that about Studio Science. I think that’s something that this team owns, and spends a lot of time trying to be really intentional about.

Matt: Mm hm. What – you know in terms of that being a core value for Studio Science – 1). Do you think that that needs to be a core value for all companies? And then the follow up question is, do all companies need to define what their core values are?

Kristian: I mean the second, the last question is simple. Yes. I mean at some point there needs to be some shared understanding about what’s important.

Matt: At what point is that important? Do you think that’s before you hit the road pitching?

Kristian: Yeah. I think in the beginning, right? I mean – and once again, you know, I’m certainly not saying we’ve always been good at that, and that’s always a process… I believe values can change by the way. Right? And most people would say, ‘No, you set those in stone and those become your guiding lights.’ No. I think things change, people change, and what may be important ten years ago, may not be as important to you. Maybe you achieved that, or maybe you thought that was important to you and you realized over time that it wasn’t; but no, I think you absolutely have to be really proactively engaged in evaluating what’s important.

Matt: Mm hm.

Kristian: Documenting that somehow. And this is the role of CEO. Right? Is to establish what is important for that business, and then relentlessly communicate that down to the organization until people are sick and tired of hearing it. In terms of should gratefulness be a core value for all businesses? I mean, I have no idea. Far be it for me to say what should be important to them. So no. It has been important for us; it has served us well. It’s been something that we can galvanize around and rally around, and it’s certainly paid dividends. It’s the kind of quintessential ‘what goes around comes around’ scenario.

Matt: That’s good. We talked a lot about what companies can do to communicate well, and to grow; specifically focusing on product and developing the right messaging around that, at the right times. What are the things that companies… what are those things that growing companies need to avoid? And you know, we obviously touched on some of that too; focusing all of your time and attention on doing the ‘look at me’ side of things. But what are some of the pitfalls you see, especially in fast-growing companies, which you work almost exclusively with fast growing companies?

Kristian: Yeah. I think the biggest thing – I think this is a pretty easy question actually… As we like to say, talent is the atomic unit of success. Right? So that’s kind of the irreducible complexity of success, is who are you working with? You know, you’ve got a crappy product? If you hire the best team they will fix your crappy product. Right? You’ve got bad customer service? You hire the right team; they will fix your bad customer service. Talent can fix anything.

Matt: Mm hm.

Kristian: Right? It can fix a bad product. Literally. Right? It can fix a broken sales model. Literally. And so getting the right people on board is so critical; and everyone pays lip service to that, right? Everyone, ‘talent’s our most valuable resource’, or whatever. The reality is that when you’re a hyper growth company, and you’re hiring 50 people a month, or 50 people a week…

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: Right? It can be really difficult, almost impossible, to hire well across the board. Right? So when you’re the size of Studio Science, it’s not easy, but it’s manageable. Right? If we need to slow our role to make sure we’ve got the right folks on the team, we’ll just slow down. Right? If you’re a hyper growth venture backed company that, you know, the wolves are at the door and the competitors are circling and IBM decides to get into the business, you can’t take your foot off the accelerator. So hiring is so critical, and getting that right is so critical, and so difficult; and so knowing that at scale it’s going to be almost impossible to continue to hire A players, building the right type of culture with the right type of values, that are rigorously and religiously conveyed to those inside of the organization, can help smooth out a lot of those rough patches; because the second best thing you can do next to hiring the right person, is firing the wrong person quickly. Right?

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: And if you’ve got the right culture in place, and the right values in place, and the right people in place, the host organism will reject. Right?

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: Folks that are not good fits, folks that are either toxic or not up to the task. It’s not always up to bad people, sometimes they just don’t have the horsepower. Right? And when you’re into the hyper growth curb, especially early on, a couple of bad apples can really muck up the works, you know? I mean this is – once again, this is kind of conventional wisdom – but the interesting thing about A players is A players will hire, and subsequently inspire other A players.

Matt: Right.

Kristian: The problem with letting just one B+ person in the door – and that’s tricky, because B+ people walk like A+ people, and they talk like A+ people; it can be very, very hard to understand the nuance. The minute one of those folks come in the door, the wheels gonna fall off the wagon; because B player hire and inspire C players, and C players hire and inspire D players, and it’s like a virus. Right? A players are so unique in that regard. And I’ll tell you, if you want to know the secret to divining the difference…

Matt: Mm hm.

Kristian: How do you know an A from a B in the interview process? It’s pretty simple, I think I’ve got it down.

Matt: Let’s hear it.

Kristian: When you ask them the kind of perfunctory question about, ‘Tell me about one of your greatest failures. Like when a project went wrong?’ You know, this is kind of standard interview 101. What you’ll find is that the A player and the B player will both tell you about the failure, and then you’ll say to the A person, ‘Why did that happen?’ Here’s what the A person will say: ‘I failed to do X and then recognize that until two weeks later, and by that point it was too late.’ Or, ‘My manager told me to do X, but I decided to do Y and it failed.’ Or, ‘I slept through my alarm.’ Or whatever the case may be. A B player – the cause will be external. Right? ’Well my boss insisted that we use an offshore development firm, and they didn’t really understand what we were trying to do, and they…’ Or, ‘We had this new sales guy came in, and he sold a bunch of vapor that doesn’t even exist in the product yet. There was no way for me to…’ Right? It’s always going to be some external event, or individual, or set of circumstances, that drove the failure. And I mean to me that has proven itself to be the clearest, cleanest, crispest way to distinguish two parties that on paper look almost identical. How do you know who’s really… who’s got the bandwidth and intellectual horsepower and humility, the leadership to move to the next level? That simple test usually will render that out.

Matt: Do you ask that question too, to entrepreneurs who pitch to you? Or do you have a similar kind of litmus test around character?

Kristian: You know, it’s interesting. The way we deal with someone who’s coming and asking for money, and the way we deal with somebody who is gracious enough to consider coming and joining us – we manage that a little differently. Right? So those are two different… It’s an interesting question, I’ve never thought of it that way; but those are two very different processes. There’s a different set of patterns that I personally am looking for in an entrepreneur. Right? And once again, a lot of this is kind of intuitive, or intuition driven. Some of it is a little more practical and linear. You can ask some questions. And the first thing is to be a great entrepreneur you have to be oriented toward entrepreneurship, right?

Matt: Yeah.

Kristian: And one of the simplest ways to find out the answer to that question is to ask them about their entrepreneurial background. I mean it is shocking… I mean it is really, really shocking how similar the backgrounds of most successful entrepreneurs are. I mean there are a series of very similar… You know, I always ask, ‘Tell me about the first time you remember making money on your own.’ Right? And I mean like clockwork, it’s the same answer. I mean, contextualized a little differently, but they were selling cinnamon toothpicks on the playground, or they were having their mom drop them off at 7-11 and buying lemonheads, and then crossing the street to the elementary school and marking them up 50 percent, or they were selling T-shirts to the sorority girls when they were in college, or they were mowing lawns at the beginning of Summer and by the end of the Summer they were running a crew of five of their friends mowing lawns and they were just counting checks. I mean that cadence of being a starter; being able to execute, being able to build teams – whether it was in third grade selling cinnamon toothpicks, or you know, brokering T-shirt printing to college kids – it’s really, really similar, and as you… Just because you did that does not mean you will be successful. That’s not my point. But those who are successful, by and large, a disproportionate number of them have similar experiences. As a matter of fact, a disproportionate number of them never even had real jobs.

Matt: For those with real jobs, who haven’t already started an entrepreneurial venture; should they stay away from starting something?

Kristian: That’s a good question. So if you have not exhibited the gene historically; are you saying is that enough of a reason to not move into entrepreneurship? I don’t know. That’s a good question.

Matt: It probably doesn’t matter what you say, because the person that’s the right person would start no matter what you said.

Kristian: That is an excellent point. So yeah, for anyone who that would dissuade them – they’re ignoring what I’m saying anyway. So that’s good. And I think the answer is no, because I think that you can come to things late in life. And really that’s certainly… yeah, absolutely. And I also think that the – I’ve used this word several times today, it’s an important one – I think the context of entrepreneurship has changed dramatically, and will continue to change as well. Right? So as we largely continue to move into this kind of free agent nation idea…

Matt: Mm hm.

Kristian: Right? The idea of, ‘Well, I’ve been at the same job for 28-years, I don’t know if I…’ We’re not going to have one of those conversations in the future. Right? So I think that one of the things that’s happening is everybody is having to become, at least at a micro level, entrepreneurial even in their day-to-day jobs. So I don’t know that the cinnamon toothpick test will be as meaningful five years from now as it was five years in the past.

Matt: That’s a good point. Well, Kristian I could probably ask you questions all afternoon if you’d let me.

Kristian: Yeah, we’ll save some.

Matt: But I know you’ve got a lot of stuff to do, and we’ve got another conversation coming up in a couple of days. So, anything else you want to touch on? Or something that you just really wanted to expand on but I cut you off?

Kristian: No. I got it all out of my system.

Matt: Awesome man. Thank you so much.

Kristian: Hey, thank you. A please.

Matt: Likewise.

9 Pros or Cons of Working With More Than One Angel Investor at a Time

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

What is one pro or con of working with more than one angel investor at a time?

 

1. Pro: Support and Vision

Jennifer MellonTrustify’s Angel Investors are an incredibly supportive group of individuals. They are motivated for us to succeed, understand our business, and trust our leadership. They provide us with key introductions, help us penetrate various verticals we want to explore and offer unwavering support of our vision. Working with multiple angel investors, who are all a good fit, can be incredibly beneficial. – Jennifer MellonTrustify 

 

2. Con: Not Agreeing With Each Other 

dave-nevogtWhen you have one angel investor, you can devote your time to working closely with that person, bouncing ideas back and forth, and turning your project into a collaboration. While this is possible with two or more angel investors, it’s less likely to happen because you will have two parties taking up a similar role, and collaboration will take more coordination/cooperation. – Dave NevogtHubstaff.com 

 

3. Pro: Access to Their Portfolio Companies

 Firas KittanehAngel investors are generous with their introductions and often invite you to tap the other entrepreneurs in their network. With multiple angels backing your business, you can leverage their collective influence and connections to grow your business. Even if one of your angels is unresponsive or declines to offer an intro, you can simply name drop them when requesting meetings with other founders. – Firas KittanehAmerisleep 

 

4. Con: Keeping Your Story Straight 

Kevin XuOne con is that you want to make sure your story delivers a congruent message to all investors. Most importantly, you want to make sure they all understand that message the same way. If they don’t, that can be a problem. – Kevin XuMebo International 

 

 

5. Pro: Access to Multiple Minds 
Chris BarrettFinding multiple strategic angels makes sense. This way, you can create your own mind trust of experts who believe in you and are financially invested in making sure you have the knowledge to succeed. Diversity is extremely important in all aspects of your startup. Attracting several angel investors from different backgrounds allows you to develop your business, with multiple safeguards in place. – Chris BarrettPRserve 

 

6. Con: Giving Away More of Your Business

Peter DaisymeEvery person you bring in as an investor will want a piece of your business. That means the more people that come on board, the larger chunk of your company you are no longer in control of. While you get more money, it also means you will have a larger amount of equity to give away when it’s time to pay them back. – Peter DaisymeDue Invoicing 

 

7. Pro: Expanding Your Business Network

Dustin CavanaughA pro to taking on multiple angel investors is the opportunity to expand your business network by acquiring new stakeholders who are incentivized by the positive performance of your business. The more investors you have, the larger your business network grows. – Dustin CavanaughRenewAge 

 

 

8. Pro: Increased Odds of Success 

Anthony PezzottiBy utilizing more than one angel investor, you’re bringing double the years of experience, advice and guidance to your venture and vastly increasing your chances to succeed. According to a study done at Harvard Business School, businesses funded by angel investors are much more inclined to remain in business longer, experience substantial growth, and see a larger rate of return. – Anthony PezzottiKnowzo.com 

 

9. Pro: Choosing One to Represent

Hongwei LiuAll  In my experience, angels can be active or passive, in that they want regular updates or are content with others actively managing the company. A pro I’ve found is having one lead angel who can speak for all others in a round, and who is interested and able to actively contribute in governance. They also must be credible and respected enough for other angels to take a back seat to them. – Hongwei Liumappedin 

 

14 Red Flags an Investor Is Not a Good Fit for You

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

What is one red flag that tells you an investor is not a good fit for you?

1. A Lack of Preparation

Luigi WewegeA dismissive attitude towards reviewing vital documents, such as an agreement proposal or strategic plans, is a red flag. After the initial due diligence, I like to have a one-on-one meeting scheduled with the investor to discuss the investment in depth, its financials, its motivation, and our company philosophy. Then I can be certain we’re a good fit and clarify any misunderstandings before moving forward.

– Luigi WewegeVivier Group

2. A Weak Network

Cody McLainWhen you partner up with an investor, you’re not just relying on their guidance and expertise. In many cases, you are also counting on having  some level of access to their network that will allow you to bring a superior product to the fore. If your investor is all money and no network, that’s a huge red flag. It means to me that we both won’t have a clue what do with his/her money.

– Cody McLainSupportNinja

3. Wanting to Change Who You Are

Laura LandIt constantly amazes me how many people will take a look an already successful business that is looking to grow and tell them to change the core of who they are or what their brand is. It’s a big red flag if the investor doesn’t understand and appreciate what is it that you already produce versus throwing out a million ways you could be a different company.

– Laura LandEMPIRE Cell Phone Accessories

4. Being Overly Emotional

Ty MorseBusiness can be stressful. When you see someone completely lose it — get emotional, upset, disturbed, or angry — during negotiations, you know that person does not have the maturity and professionalism you want in an investor. We’ve found people we thought were a good fit, but when we got into negotiations, they acted out. That’s when we knew we needed to get them out.

– Ty MorseSongwhale

5. A Lack of Niche-Experience

Adam SteeleIf you’ve never worked in/have no experience with my industry and niche, I can’t be sure of what your motivations are. What I am pretty sure of though, is that you didn’t pick us out of a fundamental understanding of what we do. Assuming that, I will be uncomfortable with almost any level of influence you want to exert over our operations.

– Adam SteeleThe Magistrate

6. Focusing Too Heavily on the Exit

Travis HoltWhen the first question out of their mouth is about the exit, I know it’s time to run for the hills. The exit is the product of many long hours, tough decisions and wrong turns. If the investor isn’t interested in being there for the process, they’re going to grow impatient and be a drain on your most valuable resource — your time!

– Travis HoltBrush Creek Partners

7. Not Understanding the Stage You’re In

Omer TrajmanEvery stage of growth needs a different kind of investor. Early on, look for an investor who thinks like a business partner. As you grow, ideal investors are on the same page as you are in terms of target customers, model for the business, and eventually look to invest based on your financials. At each stage, the red flag is different. Overall the biggest red flag is a mismatch in expectations.

– Omer TrajmanRocana

8. Asking About Becoming a Board Member Too Soon

Afif KhouryAll money is not the same. Investors can make or break your business. One red flag you definitely need to be aware of is the investor asking about being a board member early in your talks. This is a reasonable question, but should come later in the process. If you’re asked this at your first meeting, you are probably dealing with someone who is going to try to micromanage you and your team.

– Afif KhourySOCi, Inc

9. Wanting You to Fill a Quota

Brittany HodakZinePak is self-funded, but I’m constantly shocked by how many would-be investors approach me and say things like, “We’re looking for more women-led companies in our portfolio,” or “I like that you guys aren’t tech-first. I need five non-tech companies this year.” If/when we take on investors, it will be because they believe in our company and mission — not because they want to check a box off for their portfolio.

– Brittany HodakZinePak

10. Having Unrealistic Expectations

Nicolas GremionIt’s okay to take on an investor with limited investment or industry experience.  But be careful when it comes to taking one on with unrealistic expectations. For example, becoming an overnight sensation, or wondering why Warren Buffett hasn’t asked how many zeros your acquisition check should contain. Make sure they either understand the investment landscape or can be realistic about it. .

– Nicolas GremionFree-eBooks.net

11. Not Respecting Your Time

jeff epsteinInvestors are busy. The fastest way to get on their bad side is to waste their time. The same should be true for you. I’ve found that the best investors respect my time as much as their own. If they don’t during the ‘courting’ process, you better believe they won’t when they are on your board (or have rights).

– Jeff EpsteinAmbassador

12. Dwelling on Mistakes

Jayna CookeRed flags depend on what you are looking for. Are you looking for additional resources or just money? We’re looking for investors who approach things as opportunities for improvement rather than dwelling on mistakes. At the end of the day, if you can’t see yourself having a beer with them, then I don’t suggest doing business with them.

– Jayna CookeEVENTup

13. Wanting Too Much Control

Shawn PoratWhen I’m looking for investors, I want someone who believes in my company and who also trusts me to continue to make the major decisions. If I want to relinquish control, I’ll just sell the business. But it’s a red flag if an investor expects his investment to give him the right to start making all the decisions. So I prefer investors who believe in my vision and doesn’t want too much influence.

– Shawn PoratFortune Cookie Advertising

14. Poor References

Jonny SimkinMost companies go through at least one rough period. You need an investor that will support you through the good times, but even more so during the bad times. The best way to find out if an investor is supportive during the bad times is to talk with founders who have raised money from the investor you’re speaking with.

– Jonny SimkinSwyft

What You Need to Know About the New SEC Crowdfunding Rules

“Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.”  — Dr. Laurence J. Peter

When Congress passed the JOBS Act it mandated that the Securities and Exchange Commission finalize new crowdfunding rules within nine months. Well, the SEC missed the deadline by nearly three years, but on October 30, 2015, it finally approved the new rules. They “go live” April 2016 and there are some details you really ought to know…

What You Need to Know about SEC Crowdfunding Rules

Verge regulars know that last year Indiana passed its own, intra-state crowdfunding law (see my prior Verge article). While the Indiana-specific rules are now likely to gather dust because they limit your pool of potential investors to only Hoosiers, the federal rules may prove to be a robust marketplace for small-scale capital raises. Here’s a quick snapshot of the SEC’s final rules.

But First, Why New Rules?

As most know, selling securities is a highly regulated activity. Securities must be sold on public exchanges, unless there’s an exception.

The exception most familiar to entrepreneurs is the 506(b) safe harbor, which allows companies to sell securities to accredited investors in a private placement. Accredited investors include, among others, banks, high net worth individuals and trusts, and the issuer’s officers and directors; that is, those with sufficient knowledge and resources to “know better” and to absorb any losses from risky investments. Sites like CircleUp and AngelList have used crowdfunding for a few years, but they limit access to accredited investors.

verge startup pitches at the hi-fiOf course, there’s potential upside to investing in startups, and the “99%” who lack the income to qualify as accredited investors are presently shut out from investing in early and mid-stage companies.

Crowdfunding solves that problem by creating a new safe harbor where start-ups can raise money off of the public exchanges.

5 New SEC Crowdfunding Rules for Companies

Here are a few key rules for companies crowdfunding under the new SEC guidelines:

  1. Max Raise. A company may raise up to $1 million in a 12-month period from the crowd. (Note: under Indiana’s law, a company that provides Hoosiers with audited financials may raise up to $2 million).
  2. Portal. The company must conduct the raise through a registered third party “funding portal.”
  3. Target/Deadline. Through the portal, the company must set a target offering amount and a deadline to reach that amount, and it must allow investors to back out of any commitment up to forty-eight hours before the deadline.
  4. Investor Disclosures. The company must disclose certain company information to investors. The amount of disclosure required is similar to what start-ups are accustomed to disclosing to accredited investors: risk factors, business plans, financial statements (balance sheets, income statements, and cash flows), governance, and the like. You’ll want an experienced lawyer’s assistance.
  5. Annual Reporting. The company must file annual reports with the SEC, but with nowhere near the depth required of publicly-traded companies. Failure to comply with this or other SEC rules could strip you of your exemption. Not good.

Ding Dong the Wicked Audit is Dead (Sort Of)

New SEC Crowdfunding Rules For financial disclosures, the SEC’s proposed rules had called for audited financial statements for all raises above $500,000. There was tremendous push-back due to costs; for instance, Slava Rubin, Indiegogo co- founder and CEO, called audits, “a massive deal breaker.” Fortunately, the SEC slackened the requirement for first-time crowdfunders. The new rules require:

  1. For offerings of $100,000 or less, financial statements must be certified by the company’s CEO.
  2. For offerings between $100,000 – $500,000, financial statements must be reviewed by an independent auditor.
  3. For offerings greater than $500,000, financial statements must be reviewed by an independent auditor for first time crowdfunders, but for any follow-on crowdfund campaign the financial statements must be audited.

4 Crowdfunding Rules for Investors

Individuals will be allowed to invest based on annual income or net worth. Under the new rules, an individual may:

  1. If annual income or net worth is less than $100,000, invest the greater of $2,000 or 5% of the lesser of annual income or net worth.
  2. If annual income or net worth is $100,000 or more, invest 10% of the lesser of annual income or net worth.
  3. Invest not more than $100,000 per annum aggregate in crowdfunding offerings.
  4. Sell the securities, but only after holding them for one year.

Importantly, funding portals may rely on the investor’s representations concerning annual income, net worth, and the amount of the investor’s other crowdfunding investments, unless the portal has reasonable basis to question the investor’s representations. That is, there’s no affirmative obligation on the company or the portals to prod into investor’s private financial affairs to verify the investor’s representations.

Outlook for Investors and Entrepreneurs with the New SEC Crowdfunding Rules

Crowdfunding Rules for InvestorsVenture capitalists aren’t sweating. At $1 million a crowdfunded project is small even for a seed round, where average deal size hovers around $4 million and which constituted a mere 1% of 2014 VC dollars ($719 million of $48.3 billion).

On the other hand, one commentator noted that if U.S. families invested 1% of their assets in start-ups via crowdfunding, it would unleash $300 billion annually. The success of state-specific crowdfunding rules and of non-equity platforms such as KickStarter, Go Fund Me, and Kiva indicate there’s a sizable market for small denomination equity investments. And there’s certainly no dearth of start-ups looking for capital.

Ongoing SEC rules and reporting requirements will always be a deterrent to start-ups and will hamper crowdfunding’s potential, but as quality funding portals develop and the public acclimates to the new investing landscape, crowdfunding may become a useful tool for small-scale capital raises.

How will these rules change how you grow your business? Will you invest using the new Crowdfunding rules? Let us know in the comments below.

© 2015 Faegre Baker Daniels. All rights reserved.

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.