After a first month as part of the YES!Delft investor readiness program, it is time to share some thoughts on the process, what we’ve learned so far and how it impacted us.
DISCLAIMER: This light-hearted description is only very loosely based on reality and should definitely not be taken at face value 🙂
Like most, we started this journey as enthusiastic entrepreneurs, completely sold onour ideas, focused on how great it is and all the cool stuff we have in petto, the myriad of functionality it will provide and how it will revolutionize the market. We were pretty confident, sure of our game.
Then we had 1 minute to pitch.
- Everybody understood we had something great, nobody could quite get what it was all about.
Investors are from Mars
That would be the first thing we learned. Pitching to an investor (or a prospective client) is not about YOU, it’s about THEM.
Investors speak the language of TAM, SAM, SEM, ROI, Churn, Business Models, Valuation, EBIDTA, Cash Flows… Learning the investor’s lingo was a damning task, like learning a second language full of acronyms and numbers. Frustrating at the beginning, very enlightening in the end. It really helped us get our story straight and forced us to do the math. Cause you’ve got to do the math. You can’t stay forever in the fluffy stage.
The first hurdle passed, it was not the end of it. We had some numbers, great, but what was it again that we sold? And, most importantly, sell to whom?
- Ok, you’ve got 30 seconds.
Hmm, yes, you know, we make software that does stuff with data, and it’s super cool.
At this point we knew we had to do something about that elevator pitch.
Here comes the WOW method in place. A simple method to get your ideas straight and write an elevator pitch with a true WOW factor (yes, it is in the name).
Suddenly, it all made sense. This is the story we want to tell, these are our customers, and this is what their pain is.
Elevator pitch much improved, still some way to go, but at least most people now understand what we are trying to achieve.
No free lunch
Now that we’ve got a good enough elevator pitch, and some numbers, time for what we’ve all come for: Show me the money!
Again, a good learning experience: there is nothing like a free lunch in this world. Investors are not charities, they’re in for the big bucks! And how to convince them that you are the next Google when you are a fledging start-up?
- Get some customers on board, build traction, show you’ve got it!
But wait a sec, to build any sort of real traction we first need to finish up our product! And wasn’t raising money supposed to help get us there? It seems a bit like a chicken and egg story, isn’t it?
Welcome into the real-world people!
There are some options fortunately, government grants and loans, to help you get started and get you through this first stage in your development, without of course forgetting the most common investment of all, some good old-fashioned hard work!
So far, a very valuable program, it has helped us to sharpen our message, build up our case, and get us ready for the next stage!