Want to know the secret to successfully pitching to investors?
Take a back seat to your business.
The Washington Post recently interviewed several successful entrepreneurs about what they look for when looking to invest in start-ups. While their comments ranged from your level of commitment (have you quit your day job yet?) to your customer base (you have one, right?), one factor stood out.
It’s not about you. It’s all about the dollars.
Dallas Mavericks CEO and Shark Tank regular Mark Cuban put it bluntly:
“When it comes to business, there is a simple scorecard,” he said. “Are you making money or are you not making money? Are you succeeding or are you not? So when you go to raise money, always, always catch yourself and eliminate the backstory.”
Or this from David Lilenfeld, founder of crowdfunding platform SterlingFunder:
“I’ll say this about first impressions,” he said. “It shouldn’t be the entrepreneur, it should be about the product and what you are offering, because that’s really what matters.”
Mark Cuban doesn’t care about your great idea.
Most start-up investors have short-term horizons. They want to see that your product or service has a track record that warrants their infusion of cash. Can you make them money now?
Bonus Reading: For a slightly different perspective, check out this post from the archives on Y Combinator founder Paul Graham and his search for people who are wired for innovation. It’s a good reminder that there is a big difference between investing in an active venture and looking for the next Amazon or Instagram.
Photo by Little Debbie 11 (Flickr).