Raising startup capital is all about ...
- A great product?
- An awesome team who have built 10 companies and exited 2?
- It has to be about a great network, and who you know?
- Wrong again!
- Oh, I know... It's about having a lot of users. I'm right this time?
- What is it then? Just tell me!
"Raising capital for your start-up is all about establishing credibility as fast as possible!
That's what stuck with me the most after participating in Founder.University, run by the one and only Jason Calacanis and his Launch team. Usually, I try to avoid conferences and workshops that claim to teach you how to be a better founder, and build a great company. Like everything else in life, building a great company is a logical process. There are a few things you need to know, and after that it's all about the execution. However, a few weeks ago, after I read Jason's Angel book, which is a practical guide to become an angel investor (to be honest, it could be used to become any kind of an investor), I decided to apply for Founder.University. If an investor can so clearly and practically describe the path to become an investor, he must have a unique point of view as to how to build a company and raise capital to grow it.
Here is a recap of what I've learned:
Persistence: In the class, Jason talks about the power of persistence. He asks all founders to send him monthly updates. The very first sign of a winner founder is his/her persistence. If a founder continues to send at least three months of consistent updates about the company's progress, chances are that startup is destined for "unicorn-ness". Most founders get distracted. Many are "tourists" in the startup land. And, several are just clueless about how their company is making a progress. A founder that can briefly and consistently articulate her company's progress is rare to be found. Jason talks about the monthly updates in his Angel book too. Continuance in taking action in spite of difficulties and the strength not to give up are the characteristics he expects.
I even had a chance to experience the power of persistence. When I first applied for the Founder.University program, I didn't get in. There were too many applicants, and I was not selected. The Friday before the program starts I thought to myself "I want to be there." One email follow-up and a few last minute cancellations by other applicants gave me the chance to participate.
Credibility: During the two-day workshop (I was there in-person on the first day and streamed through FB live on the second day) a few of the founders get a chance to pitch to Jason and his VC guests. I found the pitching section the most intriguing. I've learned so much by watching how Jason and his VC guests reacted to different components of the founders' pitch. Jason listens to each pitch like a scavenger. He is looking for credibility. Every piece of information, every slide, the founder's body language, and the way he/she responds to the questions are all moments of truth where Jason and other investors look for the evidences of "credibility".
I didn't get a chance to pitch (lesson learned for the next time. Early bird gets the worm. Show up earlier to put your name on the list of the pitchers.) But, I went back to my pitch deck after the session. And, I realized there is limited in my deck that builds credibility. I'm a storyteller, and my deck is a fantastic story. But, aside from the last slide on my 10-page deck, there is no signs of credibility crumbs. I have some work to do. I can't wait to pitch once again, combining the art of storytelling (which I own) with the power of credibility (which I learned) into a power pitch. Thank you Founder.University!
Special thanks to Jacqui Deegan who made everything possible, and surprisingly knew all of the 50 participants by name! What a superstar she is!
Here below is a collection of ten ideas, quotes and notes from Founder.University, winter 2018 batch, to help you pitch like a unicorn (not a snowflake in a blizzard)!
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