Kissing Frogs and Finding Princes

Big Red Car here. Another great day in the ATX and why not?

So The Boss is in constant conversation with clients and mentees (ridunkulous word, no?) about the subject of fundraising. We’ve recently spoken of certain issues related to pitch decks and other such minutiae.

One of the facts that entrepreneurs are going to have to deal with is the simple reality that it takes a lot of making out with frogs and other reptilian creatures to find your funding princes. Most entrepreneurs are not willing to embrace the depth and breadth of the challenge. Way more rejection than sweet lovemaking, y’all. Know it. Embrace it. Deal with it. Do not dare become discouraged. You are an entrepreneur and this goes with the insanity. You can do it.

It goes something like this:

1. You will have to identify 200-250 potential funders who are “qualified” to fund your startup. This is not just a matter of copying the Boston phone book (remember phone books?) but doing some real digging to develop a good list. This is where The Boss sees most failures to fund — inadequate original target list.

You have to be both in the right church and the right pew. If you are seeking a seed round of funding you may be approaching angels, syndicated/organized angels and seed venture capital firms. Each one of these funders has a different criteria and a different style. As an example, angels are almost completely emotional investors while professional VC seed funders are rational and portfolio investors with a clear investment philosophy. Know with whom you are dealing.

Keep your list segregated by type of funder and geography. If you are going to be trolling Silicon Valley, New York City and Austin keep your info organized.

2. Of those 200 potential funders likely only 10% will indicate serious interest. Stay strong, entrepreneurs, as you are going to be dealing with a lot of rejection. But it’s difficult to change the world and everybody does not get your vision. This is normal.

Remember the funders are dealing with a likely 75% failure rate. It’s tough all over. Don’t feel sorry for yourself.

3. Of those 20 potential funders indicating serious interest, half will be head fakes and will flake out on you. This is only 10 folks whose checkbook will be in the room when the music stops. You still have to negotiate a term sheet. Term sheets ruin more marriages — ooops, potential investments — than anything else.

4. Of those 10 remaining potential funders indicating serious interest who did not fake you out, 5 will actually write you a check.

5. You are starting with 200-250 and ending up with 5. This is not the low hurdles on a fast track. You are going to have to be a mudder.

Another way to look at it is: 200 begets 20 begets 10 begets 5 checks. That is a lot of frogs and a lot of frog slime.

It is the business you have chosen. So go kiss some frogs. Do all the right stuff right but when it gets down to the pitching, go kiss some frogs and don’t feel bad if you get slimed a few times. Again, it is the business you have chosen.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be good to yourself. You deserve it.