Be Great at What you do. Love it.
IF you are not great at what you do. If you don’t love it and the world does not need it. Lastly, if you are not getting paid for it, it will fail. The intersection between “you are great at it” and “you love it” is called passion in my world. If you are not passionate about what you do, you will not be a successful startup entrepreneur. If this is you just wanting to jump on a bandwagon because you are fed up working at a big corporation and how you are just going to move into the sexy world of startups. You are going to get disappointed. You are going to get REALLY disappointed. If you are not working 12 hours at the weekend, you are going to find this incredibly difficult because there are other people out there doing whatever it is you do.
What is Your Purpose? What is your Passion?
The intersection of your passion, your mission, your vocation, your profession, is your purpose. Lucky is the man that find’s their purpose. Most will probably not find it until they are in their late 30s or even 40s. If you are not excited about what it is that you do. Do not expect a STRANGER to be excited about it for you. It comes back to passion. Does that make sense? The #1 connector here is your passion. You have to hit their passion. You will find more people who do not like you and your business than you will those that are stupid enough to invest in your business. That is the world of entrepreneurship…welcome to it!
Explain Clearly What it is You Do
If you don’t come across as competent, that’s fine but you will fail. You will certainly fail to get funding. But why? Because the person doesn’t NEED to invest. They are looking at you from the perspective they are going to be with you longer than most of my marriages. In Mexico, Hong Kong, Berlin, London, etc we meet 30 to 40 startups, here is the most difficult question that we ask, remember these people are being curated. Remember that we do A LOT of work, that question is for example “John great to meet you, tell me about your business.” 36% of people fail every time in every city, exactly the same amount to be able to explain what it is that they do in simple terms. Geeks almost pathologically are incapable of being able to explain to a normal human being what it is that they do. Our sole advice for academics is to get a human being with communications skills to do the pitching for you because you are not going to be able to the passion across be excited.
If you cannot prove that you already have made money and that is the only proof that we require, we are Europe and Asia’s largest Angel network by far. We want sales. Don’t tell me people SHOULD be buying your products. I recently judged an MIT competition in 2017, they were amazing, but does anybody want to buy the product tho? Have they done any market research?
Do not ask for more money than you need.
This is difficult because you don’t actually know because you haven’t actually done it before. How much money do you need? “I don’t know” is actually the correct answer. Who does know? What we do know is that it is going to be more than you ask for. But don’t ask for more than you need. Be able to explain in terms of the costs because you don’t truly know what your sales are going to be. We all accept that, but we would like to see that the costs are pretty correct. We want to see the best “guess”. At Angel’s Den we train our Angels on seven things across the world. We have a team of people that go around delivering the same 7 programs at luxury hotels to incredibly rich people every month…we teach Angels 17 ways to value your business, 17 ways. The dirty little secret at the end of that, that saves you a whole days worth of training….is that there is no way to value your startup. Who knows? It is a compromise. If you can’t compose the compromise at that stage then the whole relationship is dead.
Do not bullshit.
Do not do it once. Woman generally don’t do that. They instinctively tell the truth. Men generally bullshit so much and get the Angel so excited that once it is time to prove it in their second meeting…they can’t. They are dead in the water at that point. Who wants to invest in people that lie to them. If you are looking to raise money and you have not got a WOMAN on board in your business you are STUPID and you will probably fail. Woman are better. They are more collaborative. They are more intelligent. Not just from an emotional perspective but from every perspective. I’ve checked my facts, they make up 51% of the population and most men think they can guess what women want. REALLY? Good luck with that!
Everyone knows 80% of the startups fail. After 10 years in 10 countries, only 8% of our startups have failed. 92.4% of every business we have ever funded and we are talking thousands of businesses across the world are still going. Why? Because we curated them because we understand you need sales. If you don’t have sales you haven’t proven your business model. You don’t have the humility to actually understand what skills you have got and what skills you don’t have. So get the skills you are NOT good at on board. Don’t get tempted to get more people like yourself on board, that is not going to help you. It might be more fun but it probably won’t be successful. Staying in business is hard. Very hard. Setting up a business? That is really really straightforward. You need to get the skills you need on board. If you are going to raise money, don’t just raise it on crowdfunding, crowdfunding is a very effective mechanism to JUST get you money. You will get that money at a ridiculous evaluation, you’ll be a multi-millionaire for….months. But seriously given our experience in the UK. Over 80%…maybe even 90% of the businesses that are being crowdfunded are successful as much as that they are getting funded, but then they go out of business. Get the right team, prove your business model, and get sales, then you are well on your way to becoming a successful startup entrepreneur.