William Wong Blog

How to build a fundable company
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A common mindset in the startup community is that attracting investment is only about convincing an investor that your idea is worth investing in. Entrepreneurs are focused on tailoring their pitch decks to put their idea in the best light. What about putting the founder in the best light? Founders should spend more time convincing investors that they are worth investing in. In the end, it’s the founders that will be making the decisions that earn the investor their money back with their expected returns.

Most literature and investor advice is focused on what investors expect to see in a business that makes it attractive for investment. It must be solving a big problem, it must have a large addressable market, it must have a scalable business model  etc. But none of this matters if a founder cannot make the right decisions to realize the potential of the plan. There are a multitude of options of how to proceed when starting to develop an idea. How a founder makes these decisions with limited resources is what an investor wants to see when deciding to invest in a company.

Here are 6 common mistakes/excuses founders make when seeking investment along with how these challenges can be used to a founder's advantage. 

      • 1. Need money to build a product but have no proof of concept

        Investors want to see that you are vested in your idea. Expecting to get money to build a fully functional product without proof of concept is not realistic.

        If you have some money, build a prototype. Be resourceful, there are plenty of configurable off the shelf products that be leveraged. If not, try to execute your product or service manually. It's often best to execute your idea manually before spending any money to build a product

      • 2. Not having a plan 

        Many times I see business plans say they’re raising money to do marketing or product development without quantifying the expected results. How many users will the investment acquire? What will the product be able to do with the additional investment? 

        Having a plan with expected results shows a founder knows exactly what they are doing. Create a plan and then set milestones to keep you on track. Start with long term goals and work backwards to define quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. Without goals, you don’t know where you’re going. As you execute a known plan, investors will have a baseline to measure your progress and you’ll start earning their trust.

      • 3. Don't have any users because there is no money for marketing

        Investors expect that there is a relationship between you and your idea that makes you well positioned to execute on the idea. I call this secret sauce. You should be able to bring users to your product or service through you industry expertise and contacts. If you can’t show you can bring the early adopters, it’ll be hard to convince an investor that you’re the ONE to fulfill the promise of your pitch deck.

        Instagram had no money for marketing so they went to every Apple store and loaded the Instragram homepage on all the devices. Whether this worked or not, it showed the willingness and tenacity to do whatever it takes to make the idea a success.  You will need to do things you’re not comfortable with doing.

        Go out and talk to people. Get users one at a time. If you have industry expertise, it should be obvious where you can find the right people to talk to. Meetups, Reddit, Blogs are all candidates to find early adopters. The process of finding your early adopters doesn’t need to be scalable. It needs to prove that there are people willing to pay for your product or service. Airbnb went door to door to talk with prospective renters when they first started. If you're not getting early adopters excited and talking about your product, you should re-visiit whether your product is really providing the value it's intended to provide.

      • 4. Doing a lot of nothing

        Many times founders  that have no money, spend all their time reaching out to investors  and potential partners with email. They’re doing online research and updating their business plan. This is not moving your business forward. Moving things forward means you are actively validating your value proposition, business model  or building your product.  Any task that is reducing the risk of your business though primary data is moving things forward.

        Always be moving your idea forward. Create a plan that has a goal to move your business forward  at every milestone. Milestones like “Meet with 10 investors” is not moving your business forward.

      • 5. Not building relationships with investors

        Founders pitching ideas that go straight to the money vs taking the time to build a relationship with an investor. Investors want to invest in someone they trust and like. They get pitched all the time and every pitch has promises of great returns. So, to differentiate yourself, you need to connect with the potential investor personally.

        Try to figure out what drives the investor. Often time it’s not just money. There is some other emotional driver behind why they're doing what they’re doing. Maybe they do it to be associated with something fashionable? Maybe they enjoy mentoring and sharing their knowledge? Maybe they’re passionate about a particular industry? Whatever it is, try to connect on those terms first before discussing money requirements for your project.

      • 6. Arrogance

        The people that are most likely to succeed are those that are open to feedback and are constantly looking to improve.  Most successful people I know are voracious readers and naturally curious. We can all improve no matter how smart or successful we are.  Over confidence in your abilities because you think you’re “smart” is worse than being under confident.

        Always be learning like a beginner. Take the time to listen to what people have to say. It doesn’t hurt to listen and sometimes there may be a piece of information that gives you a new idea. Be open to being wrong and changing your current path. It’s not about being right all the time but right at the end. 

The ideas to reality 6 step blueprint to finding your unfair advantage provides the foundation for your idea. The execution of an idea is different for every idea and founder. With limited resources when starting an idea, it’s imperative to make decisions that maximize your chances for success. Contact me at William@ideas-to-reality.com to learn how I can help you maximize your chances of success.

William Wong

I am the founder of Ideas to Reality. I collaborate with innovative visionaries to create tomorrow, fulfill their potential and prosper equally to their ambition.

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