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Tips on not taking the fundraising process so personally?

I was just reading the FD blog interview with Tom Patterson (Founder of Wize and advisor to many) that focused on his fundraising experiences. One of the questions was whether he takes the Fundraising process personally. In the fundraising process with angels and VCs you hear "no" a lot and it's about your company, your baby. How do you learn not to take it personally and let it get to you?

19 Replies

Istvan Jonyer
8
0
Istvan Jonyer Entrepreneur • Advisor
VC at NexStar Partners
Think of it in terms of trying to find people to invest in your company who get what you're doing. Most won't -- if they did, you'd be doing something way to obvious. If you are looking for a "check only", vs a "partner" whose contribution is money, you'll be surprised when they start asking silly questions when things start going wrong (and they will). Think of it in terms of finding investors will stick with you through thick and thin. Not easy, but think of a "no" as a self selection by investors who don't get it.

On the other hand, you need to keep your mind open to the possibility that what you're doing is not actually a good idea, especially if too many people are telling you that. Really great ideas can look like bad ideas at first. The problem is that bad ideas also look like bad ideas, and they are hard to tell apart :)

Cullen Zandstra
3
0
Cullen Zandstra Entrepreneur • Advisor
CTO:FloQast
You can't be attached to ideas. They're not your babies, they're just ideas. As soon as you've become attached to an idea you stop being able to think objectively about the problem you're trying to solve.

Being an entrepreneur is not about having a single idea, and making that idea come to life. Being an entrepreneur is about understanding people and the problems they face, and subsequently trying to iteratively solve a problem.

Investors are wrong all the time, so don't use them as a barometer for what is a good idea or not. However, it's extremely important to always be open minded and objective about feedback. If enough of the people you're trying to solve a problem for tell you it's not a problem, consider thinking of a new idea.
Tom Patterson
7
0
Tom Patterson Advisor
CEO and Founder at New Company
Hi Alexia, I'll try to clarify what i meant by taking the fundraising process personally. What I was trying to say was that I'm all in, my passion, my vision, as I am trying to inspire people to join my tribe whether's its an employee, customer or in this case investor. You are totally right that there is an incredible amount of rejection that comes with the territory of being an entrepreneur (even google and microsoft almost sold out for very low amounts early on in there history). I'd view recieving rejection like building a muscle in the gym and it does get easier over time but it can hurt a bit in the beginning.. I made one modification at an early point in my career to follow up immediately if I was passed on with a phone call or email that starts with "i'd love to know what caused you to pass? In a lot of cases, you get feedback that helps you improve the next meeting. Public Presentation is a lifelong initiative so practice, practice, practice. :)
Larry Mai
1
0
Larry Mai Advisor
Product Manager and Entrepreneur, former VC, still hacking
You have to take a lot of No's and then you just get use to it.

You have to take it personally to some extent. A rejection* says you don't believe in me and my idea. I now have a chip on my shoulder. Work hard to prove them wrong.
Don't be mean about it.
Keep a list and when you're ready for next round, reach out again and show them your progress.
It should stoke your fire, not put it out.

*There are many reasons for rejections - not the right industry, competitive investment etc, but usually it's because the investor thinks it won't be a success.
Glenn Saunders
1
0
Glenn Saunders Entrepreneur
Developer / Jr. Partner
"I am trying to inspire people to join my tribe whether's its an employee, customer or in this case investor."

I like to think of the pitching process as an invitation and not a door-to-door sales-pitch. Don't shove your foot in the door when they are trying to slam it in your face. You don't want to feel that you somehow gamed the system to get investors to write you a check because it will mean their actual level of buy-in is low and they will cause problems later when things aren't just smooth sailing.


Ben Trenda
0
0
Ben Trenda Advisor
CEO at Are You a Human; Advisor, Investor
1. Just don't take it personally. Use the threat of failure to your advantage, to motivate you. Actual failure sucks. 2. You should take it personally. You are threatening the status quo, and there will be those that don't see the brilliance in that. You should be motivated to prove them wrong. 3. Maybe your baby really is ugly. 4. Or maybe you just take really bad pictures of your baby, i.e. you don't explain it well. Sent from my iPhone
Alex Eckelberry
4
0
Alex Eckelberry Advisor
CEO at Meros.io
Look, I ran a company that was, by all exterior views, wildly successful. We grew to $50 million in revenue making great software and sold out for a great exit. And I had plenty of "nos"., even right to the end.

Whatever, it's part of the game. If they all said yes, what would be the challenge in that?

The truth is, I've usually done it without VCs. And the biggest reason is: I hate having to ask someone to validate my idea. It's my idea, it's good, and I know it. But then I have to get someone else's validation? Not for me.

Ok, that's me. But there is also salesmanship involved. Are you selling "cold dead fish", or are you selling "sushi"? Keep that in mind. And good salespeople know that the "no" is just part of the game, and it's largely a numbers game (great sales people know how to turn a "no" into a "yes", but that is a skill that very few have).

Then again, I was also once a VC myself and said no to many, many entrepreneurs, so I suppose I can look at it both ways.

Don't take it personally. Just... don't.
Liza Kimbo
1
0
Liza Kimbo Advisor
Director
Alexia, In my experience, I rarely ever get a straight 'No' but instead the potential investors will give you various reasons why they cannot invest at this time and typically want to wait until there is better proof of concept, evidence of reaching target market, higher market demand seen in higher footfalls (in our case with out-patient clinics), higher revenues etc. When you ask for and get specific feedback on why the answer is 'No' or 'Not now' then that gives you something concrete to work towards, but mostly it just means you have to do better targeting of your fundraising efforts to reach out to those who will be excited about your idea or concept - and it's particular stage of development. All the best, Liza
Rowan Richards
1
0
Rowan Richards Advisor
Business Developer at Rowan Richards
Alexia, you are going to be passionate about the ideas you have. It's ok to allow yourself yo feel the connection personally. However, we all need to remember that the ideas, businesses we launch do not define us.
Jeremy Snyder
0
0
Jeremy Snyder Advisor
Internationally focused startup biz dev guy
I've done dozens of VCs pitches in my life, and been successful about 20% of the time. On the one hand, I can look at the no's and see the negative and get down on myself, my team and my idea. Or I can look at the positives in the success, and the reasons for the no's and learn from them. Usually, even a non-no, which is like a VC saying "Come back when you're a little further along" can give you hints towards what's missing in your pitch. Learn, refine, improve.
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