How to advocate for yourself as a founder
This is how you find investors to share the same values and mission as you.
First, take a moment to pat yourself on the back for taking the initiative to read this. You’re taking action to deconstruct the feelings you’re experiencing. Emotions are fluid and encapsulating it into a 2-dimensional framework can be confusing, especially in venture capital (VC) which tends to live in a vacuum.
It can be discouraging to meet investors who question your value and impact. While it is easy to get lost in a pool of feedback, filtering the noise and distilling it into grey matter is challenging. Even with the accolades that come with the territory in VC culture, don’t get discouraged, the wandering thoughts you’re thinking is valid.
Feedback after your pitches…
- This is not an issue
- You’re too early (you’ve seen your other friendly founders far behind from what you’ve built yet they get investor praise)
- I am not your target market and I wouldn’t be interested in this
- The market is too mature — in other words — I don’t think you’re qualified
If you answered yes to this list. Please do us a favor before you start to self destruct — ground yourself.
What are the personal values you identify with to show up as your best self? We know, it’s business, no hard feelings. However, transacting on a belief system in which it inspires ‘investor buy-in’ of the product or vision is emotional. Remember what is ‘your non-negotiable’ as a founder because not everyone is going to be on board and that is okay. Keep going and look for investors who share the same vision as you.
What is your why? How does this translate to the product you’re building? There’s a reason why you’ve felt compelled to bring your ideas to life. Find a VC that understands your purpose. End of the day, it’s your prerogative as a founder to be the #1 fan for your product and team.
Build a rapport with investors who can sponsor and mentor you. How do you even find these people? Think about the feedback you have received during your pitches. Did you research the VC team’s background and experience? Perhaps your ears perked up when someone on the VC team took special care and asked you questions during your pitches. Just because you didn’t get a VC to invest in you, doesn’t mean you can’t find another currency to transact on. Go and DM that team. Develop the relationship and over time you can tap into your network when you need it.
To level set all of this.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but it’s a start. Gaining clarity and refinement as a founder will help you steer your ship to your destination. Let us bestow some founder vibes by Robert Frost!
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Written by Christina Yeung