Fundraising is a Gradual Process
Jon and I spent a lot of time this week iterating on pitches as we are only three weeks from Demo Day. Underpinning our approach to Demo Day is the reality that fundraising is a gradual process — decisions are seldom made overnight.
Demo Day is a venue for founders to be interesting enough for potential investors (and customers) to further engage them. It’s not possible to get everything about one’s product and business across in a five minute period. Astute investors and customers will understand this given their experience cutting checks (for investment or otherwise).
In the process, each step is incremental, and discussion should be optimized to get to the next stage. In general, both sides need to have quality dialogue where they can make a decision to further engage or, just as good, decide that not to. When helping founders convert their Demo Day pitch to a one on one meeting, we work backwards from our audience. We know:
- broadly, who they are
- their interests
- areas they tend to focus on or be concerned about
Understanding this, we can tailor the presentation: words then visuals. One thing to note, don’t try to appease everyone. While knowing your audience is important, so is maintaining focus on the desired outcome (meetings with investors, inbound sales inquiries, or attracting potential employees). Obviously at a Demo Day, there is a mixed crowd, but this type of focus will help founders make forward progress.
While great advisors and mentors can help read an audience, much of this is distilled through frequent communication. It goes to show that fundraising does take time and is very much a dance. The best investors take their time getting to know a founder and their business.