How does someone get a meeting with angel investor David S. Rose?
The most useful meetings with an investor are ones where going in everyone understands that there may actually be a rational reason for the investor to be interested. So even if my own mother asked me to meet with you, and you were pitching me a biotech opportunity for a $10 million investment at a $90 million valuation, I might take the meeting, but it wouldn’t be particularly useful for either of us.
Therefore, since I know my own investment proclivities better than anyone else, I can tell you within a few seconds of skimming your elevator pitch whether or not a meeting would actually make sense. If it would, then it’s to both of our advantages for us to meet, with no untoward persuasion required. If I tell you it won’t, then it really, truly, won’t, no matter how much YOU think it would, and no matter how eloquent you believe you are or how self-obvious the compelling case you would make.
The biggest problem, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, is the sheer overwhelming number of overtures I (and many other higher profile investors) receive. Realistically, it is hard to focus attention even to read an elevator pitch, if I’m getting a dozen a day and still trying to run my own business, teach my own classes, etc. In this case, it’s not a lack of interest, just a lack of time and efficiency.
So, putting all that together, to get a pitch meeting with me, an entrepreneur would probably have the best result with the following strategy:
- Read up on the kinds of investments I make, and the kinds of opportunities I am seeking. You can find this in a number of places, but in a nutshell, I prefer to invest in highly-scalable, technology-based ventures, with a particular focus on platforms, at a very, very early stage (but, oxymoronically, where there is already some type of traction). I almost never invest in ideas or plans, so you’ll need to have a company and at least a product, if not customers. You’ll need to have invested significant cash (whatever that term means to you) in your own company, and you’ll need to have the core of your team in place (typically a techie and a marketer, at a minimum.) Because I’m a poor little angel and not running a fund like all those “Super” guys, I typically start with investments in the $25K-$50K range, and because I’m all-too-familiar with the *real* economics of angel investing, I rarely invest at pre-money valuations north of $2-3 million, and usually well below that (i.e., “East Coast valuations” :-). I’m also allergic to funding “bridges to nowhere”, so I would like to hear your explanation of what you are going to do if no money appears to follow your seed round. Can you get to break-even somehow, and live to fight another day? Finally, I like to invest in companies where I can really add value from my experience, network, etc., so checking out my portfolio of other investments, and my background, will generally give some guidance there.
- Next, if you’ve decided that you do, indeed, fit the profile I might be looking for, spend the time to gather all the information that I might reasonably want, prepare your case as best you can, and make it really, really easy for me to review your material. In practice, this means you should create an investor relations site on Gust.com (hey, it’s free!), answer all the standard questions (carefully, completely, thoughtfully and in good written English), provide all the financial figures (past investment, current burn, projected revenues, cash needed, etc.), and upload both your presentation (the version that doesn’t need you to come along with it), and a short (very short), elevator pitch video.
- Now comes the really tricky part: getting me to review all that stuff you just neatly uploaded. But the good thing is that this is where you can call in some reinforcements. To begin, share your Gust site with me directly (my first name at Gust dot com), so that I have access to it (and mention that you’re following this advice here on Quora). Then also share it with my venture associate at Rose Tech Ventures (because this answer is likely to be around in the cloud from now to eternity, let’s say that you should use the address (email@example.com)). S/he will absolutely look at it, and either let you know right away that it’s way out of range for us, or else will make sure that I see it. Finally, if you know that we have a common acquaintance (hey, I’m connected to 14+ million people through LinkedIn!), see if you can get them excited by your venture, and try to have them refer it to me. This might work because I often feel guilty if I don’t respond to a legitimate referral. With all this referring and applying, it’s still conceivable that you might not hear back from me. My bad! You therefore have my official permission to periodically (say, once a week), ping me for an answer, referring to this authorization. Frankly, it’s only fair that I give you either a Yes or a No, and if I don’t, then I deserve a weekly pinging.
- We’re now getting [whew] to the end of the process. If the response you finally receive from me is “thanks but no thanks”, then please accept at face value that I would really NOT be the right investor for you. You’ve got to trust me on this, and in this case take no for an answer. While it’s true that I might be making an epic mistake in passing, it is highly unlikely if I’ve passed after reading your introductory materials, that I will change my mind no matter how many emails you send me (because I’m really not capricious, and if I pass, it’s because I really, truly, don’t believe we are the right match.)
- BUT, if, after reviewing your Gust site, I invite you to come in for a pitch meeting, then you’ve done it! Carefully prepare your material, preferably including an on-screen presentation (PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, whatever), and then something you can leave with me on your way out. Plan on a 30-60 minute meeting (it sorta depends on my schedule), but keep your pitch to no more than 20 minutes; I’ll ask questions and then we’ll have a discussion. If you have a co-founder, see if you can bring him/her along with you; I like to meet the key players. (Also, as a practice somewhat unique to me, because I run both my own angel investments and the Gust platform, I often ask permission of the pitching entrepreneur to have many of the younger members of our team sit in on the pitch, rather like House doing Grand Rounds. It’s generally proven amazingly useful to everyone involved.)
While the nature of investment metrics means that this STILL is not likely to result in an investment (remember, 400:1 for VC, 40:1 for angels), I really try to ensure that if you’ve shared half an hour of your time with me, you won’t think it was wasted.
And that’s how to get a meeting with David S. Rose!
*original post can be found on Quora @ http://www.quora.com/David-S-Rose/answers *
Written by David S. Rose
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