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Pitching to Angles and VCs before or after a viable prototype?

I developed a website with a great concept that never got off the ground because I was funding it 100% and wasn't able to give it the money needed to succeed. I tried using open source to cut down on the expense and it ended up costing me much more in the long run and had no money left over for marketing. I took it down last October since it was not working as well as it should.

I would like to pitch it to Angels and VCs to help give it a chance for success. It is a great concept that resonates well with people and my business plan has been very solid.

At this point, I don't have a working prototype since it took so much money to build this site and it was not something that could have been used successfully. Again, I bootstrapped this completely.

My question: Do I need a viable prototype or working product to be taken seriously by investors or is it possible to secure funding based on concept and business plan?

21 Replies

Lane Campbell
3
0
Lane Campbell Advisor
Lifelong Entrepreneur
Investors who believe in you and your team won't care if you don't have a prototype. However, you've admitted that you couldn't execute even though you have gone and seed funded it yourself. With that out there I think your only option is to find a cofounder who can build it.
Eric Wold
2
2
Eric Wold Entrepreneur
CEO @ RingSeven • Web & Mobile Dev • Startups
VCs = no chance
Anges = average chance if they like you (average means maybe 2-5% chance, numbers game, talk to a lot of angels)
Apply to http://www.science-inc.com/. It is a new kind of "full stack" incubator. Mike Jones is an amazing guy. His group will build everything for you and invest that way.
I'm trying to build a group just like it in Utah, but will only take local startups in my group.
Joe Monastiero
0
0
Joe Monastiero Advisor
CEO, Founder nFlate
Here's a post I wrote on this subject earlier in the year -https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141203165040-1101775-the-paper-napkin-is-dead.

Sorry, but bootstrapping is the new angel round.
Bob Graham
0
0
Bob Graham Entrepreneur
Engineering and Software
Give it a try and tell us how it goes! Maybe you'll get lucky
Alan Matthews
1
0
Alan Matthews Advisor
Entrepreneur
You should test the concept before the technology. That's free.
Jake Carlson
0
0
Jake Carlson Entrepreneur • Advisor
Software Development Manager at Oracle
You took it down but you still have it right? Why can't you show what you had to VC's if it was so great?
Paul Okselenko
0
0
Paul Okselenko Advisor
gamedev generalist
I used to sell idea to angels before, if you're great in what you do, you have a team, you have a solid business plan that eliminates most of investors risks, then you should give it a try. VCs, I believe trust only facts, but there might be angels too who will require workable prototype, so just give it a try and let us know
Steve Simitzis
4
0
Steve Simitzis Advisor
Founder and CEO at Treat
For me, the only relevant unknown in your post is:

"it was not working as well as it should"

Why wasn't it working as well as it should? If you can answer this in detail, then that will inform your next step. If you saw early signs of product market fit but the product didn't work for very correctable technology reasons, then investors may be interested. Did you ever put your product in front of real customers? If so, what did you learn from that? What metrics do you have that show that real customers want to pay money for your concept?

Also I agree entirely withJoe Monastiero's LinkedIn post. "Fund me because you like my idea and I have a good track record" isn't even worth the price of the coffee you're meeting over. Metrics from a product you've bootstrapped are everything.
John Seiffer
1
0
John Seiffer Advisor
Business Advisor to growing companies
Justen, the thing that's missing from your story is any news from the customers. Did people buy what you were selling? Did they express interest? I think that's what Alan Matthews meant when he said test the concept. It means see if people want to pay for what you've got in mind.

Customer interest will make your project interesting to investors. OR as Joe Monastiero said, it will give you the cash to continue bootstrapping.

Even now I'm sure you still have screen shots and explanations of how it works - you can use those to learn what customers want to pay for. That data will help you decide how to go forward. Dropbox famously did this kind of learning with a 2 minute video. That was their MVP.
Alan Clayton
0
0
Alan Clayton Advisor
Roaming Mentor @ SOSV
Curious to know how much you already invested without being able to make even a working MVP. Agree that you wont get a VC interested without an MVP and more, but you could approach any number of accelerator programs. I would say that wouldn't I, but as "the accelerator VC", our China Accelerator program is an option. And YES, you definitely need a team; biz dev + CTO = minimum
Execution is everything, your idea is not what's important.
Good Luck
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