Advice From Rock Start Investors

Wsj tech cafe for blogLast night, my son, Matt, and I attended the Wall Street Journal Tech Café event at Think Coffee in New York and learned about how tech investors think from three of the greatest.  Here are a few nuggets on how to approach and pitch to investors…

Steve Case , uber entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist, advised that you should do a little research before you approach an investor and get to know his sweet spots.  Every investor has his own criteria, so for example, Steve invests in later stage start ups and generally in big ideas or platforms, rarely in products or features.    His main criteria for investing in a company:  people, passion and persistence.

Jay Samit , a top gun in LA, says, know your stuff! Too many entrepreneurs come to the pitch unprepared and unable to handle Jay (the typical investor in my experience), who gets impatient after about the second slide and shifts from presentation mode to Q&A. He also emphasized people—surround yourself with great people (a typical theme on this blog).  He hit home for me by stating that those closest to you should invest, endorse and support you on your startup; if they don’t, there is something wrong with the picture.

Brian Cohen, the mayor of Angels, says “make the Angel fall in love with you”.  Angels aren’t in it for the big win as much as to save the world, and their investment is much more emotional. Also, get them to say NO. Nobody likes to say no, so force the question and get a no (or yes) answer.  Finally, be coachable.  All startup investors offer much more than money; you need to be able to take their criticism and coaching.

Thank you, Brian, Jay and Steve and thanks to the Wall Street Journal—always my favorite news venue—for hosting this insightful event.  It came at the perfect time for me, as I have just lined up my initial friends and family capital and am looking for angels to help me launch Café Learn (more on that later….)

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