What does an Investor Look for in Your Business?
In connection with the recently-held TiEcon entrepreneurs’ convention in Kochi, TiE Kerala organised an elaborate event called Capital Café. The event involved a string of pitch fests being conducted in four cities – Palakkad, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. The shortlisted ventures were further coached to make presentations before investors during the conference. A key takeaway of the initative was the sound advice the young entrepreneurs received from veteran entrepreneurs and TiE charter members.
In the life of every entrepreneur there will be ‘moments of truth’ which present themselves as answers to five key questions, says Rajesh Nair
In the life of every entrepreneur there will be ‘penny-drop moments’ or as the management phrase goes ‘moments of truth’. This is the moment when epiphany happens and the puzzle starts solving itself. It is not the result of years of experience. It just happens…
I present these moments as five questions which, in turn, will trigger the answers.
- What is it that I am trying to sell?
It is amazing when entrepreneurs come and discuss their ‘do it all’ solution – product or service, which has more potential than any other product in the ‘universe.’ But often they don’t really answer the question what does their product do? Who will buy it? The moment the answer dawns on them, they get to see the ray of light – an humbling, divine moment almost spiritually cathartic!
- Am I selling or am I Gifting?
A senior entrepreneur recently told my team that he is not selling a product. Instead he is gifting something that he has created with love and passion and with all the nurturing instincts of a parent. A philosophy like that will make ‘walking ambassadors’ out of customers who will trust you!
- Am I Pushing or Creating a Pull?
A quickest analogy is a piece of rope… Which is easier – pushing it or pulling it? That law is the essence of business – the targets, the numbers and the push are all futile unless you create reason around your product and make people pull or demand it.
- Should I be Serving or Making Money?
One of the first questions you hear from investors or perhaps even from your logical mind is ‘does this product make money?’ Of course, it is an important question. But a more crucial question is how’ll it add value? How will it serve? It pays if one were to focus on what the customer wants and then exceed that expectation with a great ‘product experience’; It will make money!
- How did I get More Time at My Disposal?
This is an amazing revelation. The busiest of entrepreneurs often seem to find more time than others. An irony of life is that when you are really involved in crafting a vision for your organisation, you often find that you have more time at your hands. That extra time comes from focus and intention to do the best.
So what does the investor look for in your business? There is some very intelligent literature available on this subject and each of them gives you perspectives of experts. You will easily get advice on sprucing up your product explanation, business plan, getting the right resources in your organisation etc. They are all sound, erudite nuggets that one needs to take seriously. But what is the common thread? What makes the Venture Capital guy choose Jane over John? The secret sauce of the pudding is – You! Yes, no one else!
The core element of the entire message is ‘you’ and the ordeal is to get the investor to trust you. It could be the elevator pitch, the hundred slide deck or the difficult video conference. In the end it is your ability to convince the investor that his/her money is safe with you. Safety of their investment comes first and only then comes the scale, the growth and the exits. However, there is no panacea for generating trust.
(Rajesh Nair is Associate Partner – Markets, South India, EY)