Views expressed about dating merely summarizes the collective consciousness of the male species. The investing secrets presented in the article were arrived at after meeting and closely interacting with more than 250 angels, super-angels, nano-angels, VCs, both in India and the US.
Tinder matches need a story and so do investors
Have you ever wondered why despite your good looks and all the nice pictures that you’ve uploaded on Tinder, you never get a match from the girls that you want? The answer is simple — it doesn’t convey a story.
Guys are increasingly taking the help of girls to create a story about themselves through a set of 5 to 6 pictures that they upload on Tinder. The effort is made to convey who you are. For instance, are you a party animal with a lot of friends with interests in sky diving, scuba? Are you well travelled? Can you play the guitar or better, can you code?
When the girl is swiping on the other end, she is most likely to spend not more than 3 to 4 seconds on each profile, but your story has to stand out to get a good match. Treat your investor deck as your Tinder Profile and take the help of another investor who doesn’t have the burden of investing in your company but is only acting as your “mentor”. This investor will help you create a deck that the investor community wants.
The truth is your 15-slide deck that will take 2 months, 49 iterations, and 1,000+ man-hours to prepare will be flipped by a potential investor in less than 5 minutes. So what will get the investor interested to give you the first meeting? Your brilliant idea, your multi-billion dollar industry, or the all-star team?? Well, the answer is all of the above but the most important thing is “What’s the story?” Human brains forget names and data, but seldom does it forget stories.
Often times, people ask me if an awesome investor presentation will get them money from angels. My response is, treat your investor deck as basic hygiene and good clothes when you go for your first date. It is a necessary condition but not sufficient. I mean, good clothes and hygiene will not get you the girl of your dreams but lack of it will surely make you lose her.
Similarly, pay detailed attention to the font sizes, colors, charts, story telling, and design in your investor presentation so that the investor likes you, just enough to start dating you from there on. On a serious note, it also tells the counter party about your seriousness and the efforts you’ve put in.
When you are ‘stuck in the 2nd gear’
Now that you’ve gotten the match and you had your first interaction, you may most likely hear this: “Hey, it was nice meeting you, thanks for your time, let’s keep in touch.” This is a non-committal close by the party with upper hand where the counter-party has no idea if the other person really wants to meet you the next time and take it forward.
The problem with Tinder is that every guy wants to date the hottest girl within his reach. He never thinks about the options that hot girl on the other end has and the dilemma she faces before making the decision. If it has to be put in venture capital parlance, every VC gets 20–30 inbound pitches everyday, evaluates 900–1000 opportunities each year, calls or meets 400 of them, and invests in no more than 9–10 per year. You are much better of playing poker or black jack in the casino than banking on a VC investing in your company. The odds are just not in your favor.
On a similar note, the match ratios on Tinder are equally bad, especially for all the random awkward boys vying for that super hot girl. Raising investor money for a startup or dating in this super competitive world seems similar in a lot of respects.
The trick is not to be that awkward guy which 90% of the startups are. Your chances of getting funding as that awkward guy is almost zero. Once you perfect your “elevator pitch” for the investor or the“opening line” for the hot girl, you graduate and become a confident guy, but your chances improve not too drastically — it now is approximately 10% since you are one of the 10 short listed boys who are in the reckoning. But when you are the founder of a startup, your chances of survival anyway is 5–10%. How do you increase this chance?
The only way to do this is by role reversals i.e. become that hot girl and let the investors be the guys who are circling you. But do you think this is easy? Well, not really, but is it impossible? Definitely not!
Both dating and investing in my opinion are acquired tastes. The hot girl and the investor, both due to too many options, never instantly fall in love with the first guy they see or the first startup founder they evaluate. Hence the idea is to meet them, create a good first impression, don’t hope to close them in the first meeting, and just remain in front of them with your awesome smile and good news!
Investors love dishing out metrics but would you give metrics to the one you are smitten by?
I want to also talk about a classic investor statement after the first meeting: “Let’s meet after 4–6 months once you have reached X users, Y revenues, Z clients” These are called metrics and I used to obediently jot that down when I was naïve. Later I realized its their way of saying, “I am not crazy about you.”
It’s simple; if you liked a girl in the first date, would you let her go and tell her that let’s catch up after 3–6 months once you have shed 5 or 10 pounds? What it actually means is that I don’t want you enough and I am willing to lose you, should you find someone else. A wise man once told me “investors don’t invest because of your product or value proposition, they invest because of the fear of losing out.”
To follow up or not
Once you have made a good impression in your first date or the investor pitch, how soon should you follow up? Should you follow up at all? So what has always worked for me is a two-staged process.
Always thank the investor for their time and tell them how their existing portfolios and their investing style makes so much sense for you. You would like to keep them posted of the progress and if it is OK with them, can you reach out to them once in a while for guidance. They would seldom say no to it because they will then be considered mean. Similarly, tell the girl that you really enjoyed her company and look forward to meeting again soon. This is a firm way of saying that you want a future association provided there is no disinterest.
If you get a response, you have hope!
Send regular business updates to these commitment phobic investors and if you are really killing it, they will pop the question themselves — Are you looking for funding?
In a dating scenario, don’t you tell the girls how much fun you had when you were out for an exclusive concert/show/live music/wine tasting and so on? And that you wanted to invite her but didn’t know if she would be interested. *Which girl does not want to go to all these places?
Social validation and the investor psychology
Have you observed the phenomenon in bars that if a boy is surrounded with girls, other girls in the bar find him even more desirable? I have tried studying this logic and could only conclude that maybe he is considered safe, stable, fun by the other girls due to “social validation”. Most of the “follower investors” are looking for this social validation for startups and this validation is done by the “lead investor”. So please focus on the lead investor and the rest will fall in place on its own.
How do you seal the deal?
In life, always be respectful of the opportunities and chances you get. So never behave arrogantly even if you have multiple options. However, your attitude should be that “without your money or awesome company, my business and my life will still be fine and rocking! In fact, if you join the ride, you too will have an awesome time.”
In short, if you show that you truly don’t care a damn, that elusive seemingly impossible full-of-attitude girl or the hard-to-get investor will come running to you!