When I’m asked if “I have” an investor who would be interested in [insert startup idea or prototype here] I have a vision of Oleson’s Mercantile on Little House On The Prairie. If only getting startup funding was as easy as asking for a yard of fabric or a sack of flour or as accessible as a jar of candy on the general store counter…But here’s the deal – I’m not Harriet (or Nels) Oleson and investors are not sitting organized on a shelf waiting to be handed over every time a startup asks.
Here’s the answer I posted on Levo.com today when asked, once again, if I had an investor….
Is your app a feature, product or company? If a feature, whose product would benefit from your technology and think about the strategic buyers for it. If a product or company (i.e. assume there is a revenue stream or potential revenue stream attached to your app), then the question is how much money, when and from whom. Are you looking for money to launch, scale or grow? What type of investor would be most hopeful to company – someone with retail, B2C or B2B experience or contacts? Not all money is created the same so the more painfully specific you can be about what your company needs (and it is not just money I would surmise) then you’ll have a clearer idea on the types of people you need to meet (angel, seed, strategic investors) to take your venture forward.
If you’re looking for investors, know that this is really about relationship building not simply asking for and possibly receiving money. Remember that relationship building takes time – 3 months, 6 months, 9 months….and you should start building the web of relationships your startup needs to succeed before you need them. Buy a lottery ticket and cross your fingers, there is nothing anyone can do if you’re “nearly out of money and have 3 weeks of runway”. And think about what your startup really needs to succeed. We could all use more money, so it’s more than knowing what you’ll do with the investment which you magically assume will by flying off the shelf.
What else do you need, besides money to really succeed? Be painfully precise as in right here right now this is what I need – as that is the list people can truly help you with. It is tangible. It is actionable. It is clear. And as they say in the startup world, if you ask for advice you get money and if you ask for money…..