Today has been a busy day meeting companies. 2-3 a day is about average for me, but today I’ll hit double digits.
Several of the teams today exhibited red flag issues that most likely shot their chance for Foundry Group funding them. And they were simple things that they should have gotten correct.
1. Not having a clue who I am. No, this isn’t an ego thing. (Okay, maybe a little), but how do you show up and pitch me when you know NOTHING about me? You should be tailoring your pitch to what you think you know about me. For instance, you don’t need to tell me that the music industry is changing or that the future of BigLaw might be different than it is today. We can certain debate what the specifics are (and I welcome the conversations), but not having a clue that you are deeply involved in some of my domains is off putting. Besides, I’m really easy to find on the web and figure out mostly what I’m about;
2. Not doing a Google search for your competitors. I met with a company today that claimed they had no competitors. It was the classic 4 square chart where they were in the upper right quadrant and there were no other companies. The problem is that there are two that I know of who have raised over $60m between them and this company had never heard of them. When I asked them if they had done any research, the answer was “no”’; and
3. Not listening. Entrepreneurs need conviction in order to be successful. I get that. But when you are pitching me, it might be a good idea to listen to my advice and not step all over me. If you do, it makes me worry about what future board meetings might be like. I always tell entrepreneurs that “I have no idea if I’m right, but here are my opinions.” And if you don’t like my opinions, then I’m not a good funding partner for you. No offense taken, either. There were several folks today who “knew everything” and I found it quite difficult to imagine investing in them.
Ironically, my bet is that none of the companies who committed these infractions will see this blog, so this isn’t for them. But if you are pitching a VC, don’t make it ever harder by screwing up the easy stuff.