The forced conversations that go on for too long. The eye contact that neither acknowledge ever happened. These are a few of the awkward encounters that transpire at healthcare pitch events across the country.
Ostensibly, these events serve as venues to discuss startup funding opportunities. In reality, they are an eclectic mix of individuals awkwardly engaging one another. Entrepreneurs trying a little too hard to close deals that have not yet opened. Investors spewing mundane sound bites trying to fill air space, talking without saying much of anything.
It all makes for much ado about nothing – circular banter caught in its own feedback loop and headed nowhere in particular. But the wheels keep spinning. Entrepreneurs enthusiastically rehash the same talking points while investors feign interest.
Though there may be plenty of talking, few are saying much of anything. Perhaps that is the point. Perhaps amidst the cacophony of noise live a few tunes worth hearing: the veritable needle in the haystack.
Every entrepreneur fancies herself that elusive needle. Every investor knows better. But the song and dance continue. So every day, hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors take the time out to sit through bland presentations and meaningless one-on-one conversations, just to justify it all with an end-of-day beer.
For those going through it, I give you my sympathies. It is an exercise in futility, but it is undoubtedly necessary. Trial by fire is how you prove your mettle in the startup game. Entrepreneurship is an exercise in pain tolerance; the more you can withstand, the more successful you will be.
I will disclose one pivot to make your lives easier and increase the likelihood that you are that veritable needle – without increasing your pain.
Explain why you are not ready for funding. Showcase your weaknesses. Emphasize what you need to do before you are ready to get funded. It is a change of pace in both tone and tenor that will help you stand out. Most investors expect entrepreneurs to hide their weaknesses. So they build a wall of indifference. It is a natural reaction. But you should aim to be the contrarian and point out your weaknesses and limitations.
When an entrepreneur puts it all front and center, investors are taken aback – in a good way. It penetrates the façade of indifference and fosters the all powerful element of trust, the hidden driver behind companies that get funded and the lacking component of those that spin their wheels endlessly and sing their never-ending songs.
All things considered, it is not that innovative an idea. Rather, it is more or less common sense. Investors hear scores of startups pitching ideas that promise to be the next big thing. Most of the ideas are pretty good. But entrepreneurship is about the execution. Ideas come and go, but the execution turns the dream into reality.
Investors are in the business of profiting off that transformation. So from their perspective, it is less about the idea and more about the execution of it. So why wouldn’t an entrepreneur showcase the risk? Risk is the only thing stopping a dream from coming true – embrace it. Love your faults until they become your strengths.
Soon you will be speaking the language of investors. You will be music to their ears. You will be that needle in the haystack.
And hopefully, you won’t have to go to any more of these pitch events.