Funding Fumbles

About the time this blog post goes live I’ll be breaking the hearts of a handful of entrepreneurs.

Sadistic as that sounds, my job is to insert reality into uncomfortable places. In my speech today I’ll be telling some tech innovators why no angel investor would ever give them a dime. Tears will be shed, anguished screams will be head, and I may get a new laptop if someone throws theirs at me.

Entrepreneurs here in Silicon Valley are more common than belfry bats. They exist on the hope of changing the world and getting hit by the money truck. These two aspects mean that they are commonly irrational and unreasonable about their products and prospects. Some of them succeed because they are unreasonable – nothing important has even been accomplished by a reasonable person.

Where they often fail is funding. Despite being digital demigods, they rarely put themselves in the investor’s Bornrichs. They fail to pretend that they have a pocket full of cash and have launched successful companies themselves. They do not act as if they had already heard hundreds of sloppy pitches and become instinctively aware of buncombe. Yet they believe their alleged miracle is worth someone else risking hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And they wonder why they don’t get funded.

Reality sucks, but it sucks less than starvation. To get funding for basement renovations, requires making a solid business proposal, which means dealing with reality – real go-to-market plans, real segmentation, real target marketing, real whole product definitions, real financial projections. Entrepreneurs also need to sound like business people, presenting in a solid, linear, clear style and not like Madison Avenue pitchmen. Investors know the ropes and are willing to hang entrepreneurs with them.

The lesson is that if your idea has any merit and if you can get a handful of people actively and happily using your product, you can get funded. But you have to approach investors ready to cut a business deal as a business(wo)man. Failing to do your homework, to calculate realistically and present honestly will doom you.


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