Every now and again, we walk out of one of those “Hi, my company is the best because…” meetings wondering how in the HELL we made it through the last 45 minutes without handing the lad a cheque just to make him go away. Quite frankly, we’re not sure how many more of these meetings we‘ve got left in us before we go all Green Goblin and stuff.
Indeed, we thought it prudent (and helpful) to cobble together a list of 5 thinks investees might want to keep in the back of their minds prior to pitching their wares (for the first time) to an investor.
And with the help of the Donald, Austin Powers and Pat Sajak we’ve laid these thinks just below:
What is wrong with Trump’s Hair? NOTHING - it just works!
People are critical of things out of the ordinary – like the Donald’s hair – people say, “why doesn’t the guy get a new hairpiece or something?” Probably because it is his real hair (plus, have you seen his wife?), thus in spite of all the criticism about his hair style you have to give the guy credit, for better or worse, it’s a gorgeous marketing ploy.
The way people feel about Trump’s hair is the same way 8 out of 10
The reason for this is that for every original idea there are at least 30 “me too” regional ventures looking to address the exact same market and solve the exact same problem. The apparent genius (or special sauce) of the company may be visible on paper but is rarely digested – unless you start the conversation off highlighting what is so special about your hair, or rather your “me-too” company, you may find yourself back-pedalling when you should be striking.
Powered by MOJO!
“So I started to work my mojo, to counter their mojo; we got cross-mojulation, and their heads started exploding…” - Austin Powers
an American based a global (my bad) venture capital fund once told me that there is only one “data point” he looks to take-away from meeting the CEO of a start-up, and potential investee, for the first time…and that is “mojo”.
What he was referring to was that “yeah, baby, yeah” connection between the investor and the investee – unfortunately, this is not something you can learn, model in an algorithm, or allude to in a power point presentation – it is either there or it is not.
However, what is in your control is ensuring that your mojo isn’t muffled or distorted by noise and prejudice. Remember – you need the investor to first, feel comfortable with your ability to lead the company and second, that the company has legs.
So how do you neutralize the environment to ensure the mojo pipeline is unfettered and, perhaps, more importantly (if you are a ghost) you never hear the phrase “…so, you’ve been in
Here are four (rather obvious) suggestions you might look to deploy in the first five minutes:
My go to story is about the time I was working for a local automotive manufacturer in Tianjin (1993) and was handed “legal” blueprints for synthetic brake pads for one of those Daihatsu “mainbao che” vans by some random guy who asked me to help source capital to build a factory to make these parts – the fact that I was not only a university student in China for another 2 weeks but also, at the time of the hand-off, lost in the factory in a maze of hallways looking for the bathroom, didn’t seem to mater.
Kansas City Shuffle
Kansas City Shuffle? A Kansas City Shuffle is when everybody looks right, you go left. It’s not something people hear about. Falls on deaf ears mostly. Requires a lot of planning. Involves a lot of people. People connected by the slightest of events. Like whispers in the night, in that place that never forgets, even when those people do. It starts with a horse.” - Bruce Willis, Lucky Number Sleven
Wheel of Fortune
Contestant: “Pat, are there any letter Ms in the puzzle?”
Pat Sajak: “Yes, one M.”
Contestant: “Pat, I’ll spin. Pat, are there any Cs in the puzzle?”
Pat Sajak: “Yes, there is one C.”
Contestant: “Pat, I’d like to buy a vowel…the letter A.”
Pat Sajak: “There are three A’s…that will cost you US$4m.”
Contestant: “Pat, I’d like to solve the it. MATERIAL CHANGE.”
You’ll earn points for openness and transparency – if you don’t know the exact solution/answer, you should just say so – the caveat being don’t leave the investor hanging – introduce numbers, supporting evidence, multiple options, and most importantly have a good sense of how it is going to impact (either negatively or positively) capital requirements for ongoing operations.
Take away: Don’t make the investor guess how you plan to resolve the puzzle – make sure he/she understands you’ve fully thought this through.
Please, have the fish eye…
The way it tends to be presented in most conversations is in (or some derivative of) the following phrase: “We are not investing in the idea so much as we are investing in the team..(”er…pending terms and conditions).”
How do you get to this point really depends on you and your team‘s mojo!