The 8 worst things you can say to an investor
This week, over 180 entrepreneurs and investors from Europe, the US and Scandinavia will gather deep in the fjords and forests of Norway for the Startup Extreme festival.
The conference is happening for the first time. The organisers promise a festival designed to create meaningful, long-lasting relationships between handpicked founders and investors, by sharing experiences in the extreme and beautiful Norwegian nature.
We talked to some of the investors coming to Startup Extreme about what they think are the worst things you can say to an investor if you are a start-up. Here is what they had to say:
1 We have no competition!
Linus Dahg works as an investor at Wellington Partners in London. He has written several articles on Medium about how to talk to investors.
His advice is – never, ever say to an investor that you have no competition.
-Many entrepreneurs believe they have something unique to offer just because their solution is technically a little bit different from others.
-But the thing is: your customers do not see the difference. Most companies usually compete for the same paying customers and, even if they are not in direct competition, they can still have a similar business model, geographic focus, etc.
2 If we take five percent of this market, we will become a billion dollar company.
Linus Dahg says that no investor wants to see a top-down approach regarding your analysis of the market.
-They want to see that you made a bottom-up analysis of the customers you have already spoken to and have begun to establish a relationship with. Only then can they see that you have done your homework about the market and the needs.
3 We cannot release the product until it is 100% perfect.
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better – said writer Samuel Beckett. This also applies to entpreneurship. Do not say that your product is going to be perfect when you release it.
-A big part of being able to iterate on theirs product is that you get feedback from your users. Just look at what Facebook’s first product looked like at their first release.
4 We need money now.
Johan Brand, one of the co-founders of the Kahoot!-a rising tech-startup that has now over 60 million users worldwide, has met many investors in his lifetime.
His advice to entrepreneurs looking forward to meeting investors is – never mention that you need money now.
It is better to keep this information to yourself, so you do not look desperate and end up getting less than you possibly could.
5 We don’t plan longer than six months ahead.
We get it; you don’t know how it all will turn out in the end. However, not having any plan is a bad idea when you talk to investors.
6 We are sure that everybody will buy our product, and this will take (insert time).
Johan Brand says that it is dangerous to be 100 percent sure about your product in the early phase of your start up.
-You have to be open to the fact that things may change, that you might have to interact more with your customers and adjust your product. You also have to be patient – it may take 3 times longer than you expect.
7 Lie about customers feedback.
Silvija Seres is an entrepreneur, board member and investor. Her advice is to be careful with the promises and information you give to an investor.
To lie or change numbers so it looks better is a bad idea when trying to woo new investors.
-Also, it is a bad sign if your technology is not yet tested, but you make promises that it is good.
8 Sorry I was late.
Time is money, especially if you are an investor. Thats why you should never arrive late to a meeting with a potential investor and have a lame excuse – ”Sorry I was late”.
This is advice from Christian Horn Hanssen, who is head of marketing at Schibsted Growth.
-It is important that entrepreneurs meet up at the scheduled time.
Be sure to keep these advices in mind when talking to investors at Startup Extreme!