We’re moving back to raising capital this week and dealing with getting the dreaded “No” from investors. Anyone who’s raised money has heard this many times. This week we’ll discuss what it means and how to deal with it.
When the Investor Says No
Hearing a no from an investor can be very difficult. Typically as a founder, you’ve sunk your heart, soul, and sometimes a significant amount of your bank account into your start-up. After months of work on your business plan, financial model, and investor deck, countless iterations through your strategy, getting a warm introduction, and finally making your pitch and demonstrating your product, the investor says, “no”.
You may be incredulous. You know that you have a compelling case for customers™, solid business case, and a myriad of other great reasons that they should have said yes.
After getting the no, take time to breathe and settle down. Realize that it’s only one, “no”. Naturally, you want to know why they said no, so ask them and listen carefully. Keep this sentence in mind:
Key point: Any reason is a good one if they don’t want to do something.
I do mean “ANY” reason. It could be that:
The VC has a competing investment that you don’t know about.
They didn’t understand your pitch or it wasn’t compelling.
They didn’t like you or believe that you could do what you pitched.
They got a bad reference about you or a member of your team.
The moon is in its crescent phase.
Any of the above reasons is a good one.
First, thank them for their time and consideration—you never know when you’ll be involved with this investor in the future. Maybe they’ll realize that they made a mistake and get back to you in a few days. Or maybe they’ll lead your next round. Regardless, they took time to listen to you, so thank them.
Then thoughtfully reflect on their reasons for saying no. How true is each one? After consideration, you may believe some of their assessments, especially if they are grounded with facts. While you may want to change your investor deck based on their assessments, remember that this is only one investor of many. Unless they unearthed an error in your presentation, be careful about changing quickly what you spent months creating.
Key point: Don’t get caught in the never-ending change deck loop.
Wait until you get consistent feedback from at least a few investors before you make changes to your investor deck. Then, before you make a change, determine the consequences of the change on your business plan and financial model. Remember that all three components are inextricably tied together, so changing one will require a change in the other two as well.
Key point: The outline business plan, financial model, and investor presentation deck are all inextricably linked together—changing one requires a change in the other two.
What do you do next? Confidently move on to your next investor meeting and pitch. This investor—or the 20th—may be willing to take a leap and give you a term sheet.
Any reason that an investor says “no” is a good one. Thank them and move on to your next investor. After you’ve cataloged each investor’s reasons for saying no, review them to determine common themes. Only then consider modifying your business plan, financial model, and investor pitch deck based on threads of consistent feedback.
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Until next week!
All the best,
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