If you're looking for investors who can help you with funding to get an idea off the ground, you need to know what they want to hear. That's according to Max Eliscu, CEO of Viewpost, a B2B invoicing and payments network which processed nearly $1 billion in payments last year. At age 25 he raised $2.3 million from angel investors to get accounts receivable financing company LSQ Funding Group off the ground, later raising another $140 million in two rounds of funding. Here's what you need to communicate if you want to land funding.
Investors want to know entrepreneurs looking for capital have experience in the industry they're targeting. "I'm surprised sometimes by the entrepreneurs who have an idea but have no experience and want financial backing," he says. "If you want to get into retail, find the best retailer on earth and go get a job there and learn from them. Then start your business."
Investors are interested in unconventional thinkers who won't stop when problems arise. "They have to be able to run into a barrier, be nimble and creative and recognize that barrier isn't really a barrier for them, it's a barrier for everybody else," he says. "And they have to have the ambition to believe and to find the way to get that obstacle out of the way."
Investors are looking for people who are willing to do whatever it takes--within ethical boundaries--to succeed. It means working long hours and forgoing some things today in exchange for future opportunity. "They want the person who's going to skip going to the movie, going on vacation, and leaving the office to put in the time and the hours necessary in order to accomplish the objective that may be time-sensitive," he says. "Work-life balance for early stage entrepreneurs generally isn't really balanced, at all."
4. Pain Point
Just because something is a problem doesn't mean people will pay for a solution. It has to be a problem people care about.
Not only do you need to find a problem people want solved, the addressable market for the solution has to be big enough so you don't have to capture 100 percent of the market in order to get a good return on investment.
6. Holistic or Comprehensive
If you're developing a treatment for a pain point that isn't a cure, someone else can come along and disrupt it. "For instance, if as a result of an outbreak of Polio you come up with a slightly better wheelchair that might be interesting and you're helping to treat the symptom of the disease," he says. "But if somebody else invents a vaccine for Polio, you're out of business."
7. Defendable or Differentiation
Angels want to know your solution can't be easily duplicated by others in the industry who have greater resources or experience. "They want to make sure there's a barrier to adoption... so you don't get taken advantage of or put out of business by slower industry insiders who have greater scale and have an ability to adapt once they understand how to solve the problem," he says.
Can you communicate how you're going to evolve your idea into a profitable company? "They want to understand that you can see that vision and have a path and plan to execute," he says.
9. Confidence (without ego)
Entrepreneurship is tough and takes founders who believe in themselves. But they must understand their weaknesses so they can bring people on board to compensate. "If you have a high ego quotient then you're oftentimes going to believe that you're going to be the best at everything," he says. "And that's a real problem in growing and running a company."
Investors want to know the path to making a lot of money or getting acquired by another player in the market. "They're not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts," he says. "They're really passionate about [investing] and ultimately hope to be paid for it."