Gone are the days of getting funding just because you have a bright idea. Investors are looking past the " concept company" and looking for start-ups with solid products and promising projections. While some old rules still apply when seeking an investor, there are new questions you need to answer before you embark on your money hunt.
Guy Kawasaki, CEO of Garage Technology Ventures, formerly Garage.com; and Brad Feld, managing director of SOFTBANK Venture Capital; both inc.com mentors; and Kirk Walden, national director of venture capital research for PricewaterhouseCoopers, helped develop this quiz to determine an entrepreneur' s readiness to talk with investors.
You meet an investor at a networking luncheon. Your approach to telling him or her about your company is to:
a. Dive into a discussion about the shaky economy and how your company can ride it because its product/service is unique. b. Whip out the 20 note cards you' ve prepared and start reading. c. Introduce yourself and explain your product/service and its market opportunity in less than 30 seconds.
When discussing your business' s customers, do you:
a. Explain that your market is so huge that you certainly won' t lack for customers. b.Discuss potential customers in terms like Fortune 1000s, Fortune 500s, enterprise clients, etc. c. Name specific companies who are ready to pay and will be your customers.
Financing isn' t just around the corner -- it' s about six months away. What do you do?
a. Forget it. You didn' t plan on waiting so long and your back-up financing plan, well, there is none. b. Slow down, and refrain from cultivating business relationships or working on new product development until the money starts rolling in. c. Batten down the hatches and call on other resources and entrepreneurial ingenuity to survive until the financing happens.
When seeking capital, investors want to see that you have a strong management team. What best describes your business' s leadership situation?
a.I' m it. b.I have a board of advisors, but no management team that is directly involved with the day-to-day operation of the company. c.I have the core team, and with an investor' s help and capital, I can more effectively build it out.
When developing your revenue projections for your business plan, you:
a. Guesstimated based on your confidence in your product/service positioning b. Projected revenues based on your perceived value to customers c. Demonstrated realistic revenues based on data from peer companies and companies in related industries.
When asked about your company' s competitive advantage, you reply:
a. We' re first-movers in this space, with a patent to boot. b. Marketing is key to our success. The louder and more often we put our message out there, the more customers we' ll reap. c. We have a core team and/or good technology. We need an investor that will help us move forward quickly to help us implement a solution better than anyone.
What do you see as the future of your company?
a.What future? I' m building to flip, cash out, and live the good life. b. I' m a serial entrepreneur. I want to see this thing to profitability, but I' m always ready for the next big opportunity. c. I' m in it for the long haul. Let' s build a sustainable, viable business here.
Investors will want to know your take on raising capital and how much ownership you' ve given up or are willing to give up to make your business a success. What statement best describes your situation:
a. I want to be the majority owner of this business, keeping dilution of my ownership interest in the business to a minimum. b. I' ve already raised some money from family and friends, but in return I offered them special voting and/or anti-dilution rights. c. I want this company to be a success. I' m prepared to take on investors that will help me reach that goal.