Friday, August 30, 2013

Getting to the point is a cardinal virtue

While the startup life can be full of excitement, it can also be incredibly repetitive.  Take the pitch, for example.

Many entrepreneurs dislike fundraising because they have to deliver the same pitch over and over.  I've lost track of the times that people have referred to themselves as a wind-up toy.

Yet if entrepreneurs think it's bad, it's far worse for VCs and angel investors.  As an entrepreneur, at least you're only fundraising part of the time.  Investors are always listening to pitches.

I'm only a part-time investor, and I sat through two pitches, and met with three other entrepreneurs today.  A professional VC might see 5-6 pitches per day, every working day of the year.

So it never ceases to amaze me when people don't get to the point.  Everyone is busy.

Entrepreneurs sometimes take a "more is better" approach by marshaling heaps of mediocre evidence for their startup.  Quality isn't cumulative; a few gems are more valuable than a truckload of gravel.

Nor are investors immune, lecturing entrepreneurs about how much value their firm can add, when there's no way to prove that in a 30-minute meeting.

Get to the point and get to the next steps.  As I told one of the entrepreneurs I met with today, after agree to next steps with her, "I don't believe you can create a perfect product by sitting around and planning.  Quickly figure out what you think you should do, and do it.  Then gather feedback and adjust accordingly."

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