I haven’t had so much time to write blogs lately because I’ve had a couple of major life events happen and happening. One is that I got married, which I wrote about here. The other is that I’ve been raising startup funds for AvecMode, the most significant professional undertaking I’ve ever taken.
Not to take anything away from how special getting married has been, but the two events have been eerily similar for three reasons:
1. The dating process.
Finding investors has been a very interesting process. People ask me how I started finding investors, and it’s actually very similar to how you find a girlfriend or boyfriend. You start with your friends and personal network. Chances are, like a future lover, your investors may be friends of friends. You may meet them in a bar, either for a tech meetup or a happy hour.
This is not to say that every friend of a friend is a good match. That’s far from reality. In fact, what ends up happening is that most of those friends of friends are simply willing to go on a date with you. They may already have, in the back of their head, a reason not to spend any more time with you (or invest). But at least you got the date.
Being open to a relationship is just as important as creating opportunities to meeting new people. The same is true for investors. Once you start talking, you quickly begin to learn what that person is into, what they’re looking for and whether or not it’ll be a good fit. Some people date for years before getting married, others date for months. Star and I dated for four months.
2. You know when you know.
That last sentence goes to show that the saying that “you know when you know” is really true. In the first three minutes of talking to a potential investor on the phone or having an in-person meeting, I can usually tell if it’s going to go further than that. It’s more difficult to know if you’re going to go all the way; if you’ll get an investor…but you know if they’re genuinely interested. The most honest investors, like honest people you may date, are up front after an initial conversation/date about their interest.
I have been very disappointed in people who’ve strung me along, and gained more respect for the people who were more up-front. Rejection is something I can take if I feel like it’s coming from a good place and that the person gave me a fair shot. If they didn’t give me a fair shot, I make sure to remember it like remembering a bad girlfriend and how they did you wrong. You may forgive, but you never forget. Spite is a great source of motivation, at least short-term.
3. It’s never perfect at the start.
Long-term, however, your motivation has to be to have sustainable, repeatable success for all the right reasons. Some people start businesses to make lots of money. For me, and my business partner Jon, I think we’re in it to solve a real problem that we perceive which we believe will lead to money if we execute our business plan properly. That means we have to be entering this relationship, we have to want to date (and seek investors), for the right reasons.
For us, it’s all about finding people who share our vision and are willing to acknowledge that not everything is perfect simply because we agreed to get in bed with one another. Sometimes the business plan needs to pivot, maybe an assumption was off or a new revenue stream opened up. The best relationships, like investors, have a lot of dialogue, understanding and a hell of a lot of faith and trust in the abilities of the people involved.
I’ve been raising money for AvecMode because we believe the right investors will help Jon and I take this business to the next level, with hyper-growth trajectory. You often hear people say that their husbands or wives are their other halves. Star is just that for me; she’s the woman that God gave me to take me to the next level as a human being.
These major life events take faith, patience, respect, and trust. I know that’s a lot to ask for so I’ve been doing a lot of talking with God to make sure my head’s in the right place and I’m making the decisions I’m making for all the right reasons. There’s a lot at stake for me personally and professionally, with the most important people in my life counting on me.