(By Eric Schiffer)
“Steve Jobs didn’t launch his iPhone and iPad at the same time. You shouldn’t use your best moves at once, either. That makes it too easy for weasels to copy you. Show me you’ve got self-control and think strategically enough to build one great product—not five half-microwaved ones—and then use your momentum to launch another.“
If I’m going to bet money on your startup, I want you to be as dangerous as MMA fighter Jon Jones–capable of destroying the Glover Teixeiras in your industry with a devastating elbow to the face or sudden shoulder crank.
Skip the hype and the trash talk when you pitch me. Show me that you’ve developed an unfair advantage that hurts your opponents so badly that they have to submit— and yells “Back off” to others stepping into the cage. Here are the signs that tell me you’ve got the goods.
You know your rivals, down to each tattoo. Your competition may be another business or the status quo. It may be one opponent or many. You can’t develop an unfair advantage without knowing who they are and how they operate. Do your G2 to prevent getting hammered.
You’re no slothpreneuer. Prove that you’ve done the right prep work to take down any opponent until we hit the exit. Did you beta test? Talk to customers? Gather data? Stop taking selfies and show me you’ll be ready with a lethal strike if a 6’9,” 310-pound competitor hunts you down.
Not long ago, a buddy asked me his opinion on an investment: a high-end, online straight razor store. You’d be remiss to mess with the entrepreneur who started it. He’s in a great niche. He gets the mindset of guys who like to shave.He’s got a website that rivets your attention. He knows how to work social media to connect with customers every day. That drives new products. And he’s got his ear to the ground. He knows his competitors’ next move before they think of it. My answer: Back him. He recently made a deal to sell his products through The Art of Shaving.
You’ve nailed the timing. Steve Jobs didn’t launch his iPhone and iPad at the same time. You shouldn’t use your best moves at once, either. That makes it too easy for weasels to copy you. Show me you’ve got self-control and think strategically enough to build one great product—not five half-microwaved ones—and then use your momentum to launch another.
You “get” that the clock is ticking. Failed startups collapse 20 months after their last cash infusion, on average. I don’t want to join a life-support round. Show me you’ve got the urgency to make real progress–fast. I want evidence you’ll be alive next year.
One startup pitched me with a good idea for storing important personal information online. But as a non-techie, the founder didn’t have enough respect from the engineers on the team early on to light a fire under them. It slowed progress–and their traction. I passed.
You haven’t figured out how your opponent will kill you. Tell me up front how your competition could tie you up on the fence–and why that will never happen. Did you lock down crucial web addresses or patents early? Lure the best talent to your team?
Know this: Investors want to back entrepreneurs who can intuit how to win, not just get into the ring. That’s the deal that’s fun to bet on.
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