As many of you know I was recently announced as the winner of the #HisCoxCouragetoPitch competition sponsored by Black Enterprise and HisCox. As the winner I was flown out to Silicon Valley for an all expense paid trip to the #TechCnxt summit and also the opportunity of a lifetime to meet with a top investor in Silicon Valley. While I am unable to give out any specific details of my meeting I would like to share 5 lessons that I learned from my first investor meeting.
I would be lying if I told you that I had no fear when I stepped into my investor meeting. While I wasn’t unbearably nervous, the fear of the unknown had me questioning if I even deserved to be in the seat I was in. Prior to stepping into my meeting I received the best advice I have ever heard as a start up founder and that’s to simply relax and be myself. You see, investors don’t like to be pitched and they most certainly don’t want to feel as if they are getting a second rate version of who you REALLY are. So instead of wasting your energy “trying” to get someone to like you. Just simply be you and those who matter won’t mind.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say You Don’t Know
There is this really weird stigma that exists that has led many entrepreneurs to believe they have to know it all as it relates to their business and their industry. While it is ideal that you know as much as possible, it is nearly impossible to know EVERYTHING. When stepping into your investor meeting if there is something you don’t have an answer for, say that. Lying may not make you look bad immediately but trust me your lies will become evident relatively quickly.
An investor meeting should be a conversation between you and the investor which means they shouldn’t be the only ones asking you questions. Prior to your meeting with the investor, brainstorm questions you can ask that will help you learn more about their backgrounds and the areas in which they generally invest. Alot of this information can be obtained via a simple Google Search; however, in the case that the information isn’t visible be prepared to ask. The more questions you ask, the more you can learn.
Know Why You Want An Investor
Sure it’s cool to tell your parents you want to be the next Mark Zuckeberg or Jack Dorsey but do you REALLY know why you want an investor? Is it to really create a sustainable and scalable product or is it so you can pay big salaries to yourself and your friends? WARNING: the latter is NEVER the answer :-). Whatever the case may be, be clear on why you want an investor. The clearer you are about what you need for an investor, the better they can assist you in moving forward towards your goals.
Be Open to Advice
As mentioned above whether you know it or not, you don’t know everything. As a startup founder you probably only know the “start up world” and not necessarily the investor world. If your investor offers advice, listen. At the end of the day you need the investment and they need the return. Teamwork ALWAYS makes the dream work.
Have you ever experienced an investor meeting? If so, what things have you learned? Leave your comments below.