You’ve heard all the terms: Elevator Pitch, Pitch Deck, 10 Minute Presentation, etc. Anybody who has ever been to a startup event has seen, even in crowds of hundreds most people are sitting alone, well dressed wearing their best shoes, and wearing a smile, but not talking to anybody.
Even when their current venture is brilliant, a startup founder is going to have to be able alot of cold shoulders and rejection by those very people who declare they are startup investors with ‘seed money’ and ‘runway’ money reject the startup founder, however politely.
The politeness is appreciated. The smirks and behind the back talk as one walks away certainly isn’t but if you want someone to invest in your business or idea it’s something you better get used to.I’ve had my idea and startup out there on the web for several years now and have heard the howling silence of non-interest. One SBA advisor who had retired from the corporate world once warned me: ‘Big companies, if they like your idea, will just flat-out steal it from you’ Of course, the SBA guys had a nice meeting with me, but never handed me a check, for any amount.
Local Chamber Of Commerce clubs, whose stated purpose is to help small businesses in the community, have a funny way of showing it. In the larger ones, they won’t even let you attend a meeting or talk to you if you don’t have the money to pay the entry fee. In smaller ones, you might meet one or two nice people, but the other 10 don’t like newcomers. That is why I called them clubs. Usually it’s the town’s female warrior business types whose husband bought them a flower shop or an art gallery.
Then there are the phone calls from people who want to lend you and your business the money you need to expand. They are usually calling from boiler rooms out west in California or from New York City. They have a nice attitude for the first 4 or 5 questions that are part of their sales pitch and they sound so confident as they say they want to give you $50,000 or $100,000 capital at 2-3% interest. So you trying saying yes, instead of just saying you are not interested and they always want the same thing. They want 3-4 months of your most recent bank records showing deposits of your profits and current balance. When you offer an explanation, saying that yes, my business turns a profit but I have bills and expenses to pay, if they are calling from the west coast they are polite and friendly and say they have a meeting to go to. If they are calling from New York, they often say they are on Wall St., the phone usually just goes click – the hangup in your ear.
The hackathons and developer meetings, some are good, most are nothing but a bad experience. The ones I hate the most are the ones who advertise and have you sign up on meetup.com but when you go to show up, you find a parking lot full of no parking signs. So you park far away and hike in, after the first few you know to leave early, and when you get there the person or meeting doesn’t exist and the person who organized it isn’t there, you’re lucky if you can get a business card with their name, a telephone number, and an email address. So you call or send an email, you get a robo-response telling you your e-mail has been recieved, but they never email you back or return your phone call.
If you are lucky enough to get them on the phone, they boast about being experts and have a 3 minute conversation with you which consists mostly of them sitting there with a silent response and the conversation ends with them saying they will email you more information. This is usually a URL that doesn’t work or goes to a wordpress css style loaded webpage that takes forever to load, and a PDF file listing their list of successful clients they helped and/or a Google docs spreadsheet that produces an error message in your browser.
So you think, I know, I keep hearing how some veteran with his small business of selling aprons or cologne raised $2 million dollars on some crowdfunding website like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. I just don’t get excited about the $75 pair of sunglasses with awesome technology to reduce glare or let you see the road at night. If you take the time to register, choose another password, and verify your email or phone with a pin code, the page disappears into internet never-never land and you don’t get the first pledge of any amount.
Then there are the cryptocurrency websites that tell you how to do an ICO, or create your own tokens, but they just want a $300-$1000 fee paid cash up front to help assist you and list you on their blockchain exchange.
The bottom line is starting a business is as hard as it’s ever been. Running a business and making a profit doesn’t happen without long hours, lots of expenses – from printing business cards to paying a webhosting bill, and plenty of hard work. If you are successful, you get plenty of dirty tricks from blackhat hackers who will make your domain travel through their server farm and mysteriously you find your website displaying a server not found message or a parked GoDaddy webpage full of ads that GoDaddy profits from. Your hold time when you call support is often long and when you get someone on the phone they ask what the domain name is and say ‘I can see your website, it loads right up, and they read you something off the website’. Often the problem is a erroneous A record or some other problem with a zone file only they have access to. If you change the nameservers they simply declare the fault is not theirs and it must be a problem on your webhoster’s end.
Those who are successful in business or launching some great new technological solution that revolutionizes, or in their favorite language ‘disrupts’, the traditional business model have on thing in common: they never gave up. It’s like having to walk after the car has run out of gas or got a flat tire and you don’t have any money to pay for the unexpected tragedy. You just have to look and see what direction the sun is, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Most people in the inner circle core of power resent newcomers, and all they want to do is stab you in the back or laugh as they sip wine and eat cheese, round with green specks in it of course.
You have to stay positive. The best events and meetups you get pizza, take a few slices because the pizza boxes are always never enough for the number of people who have attended. Treasure and stay in contact with those few nice people you meet along the way. Life and business work best when you avoid negativity and stay encouraging to those you meet, even if their idea or startup is crappy. Keep going to the meeting and events, BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU MIGHT MEET THERE if you go. If you don’t go, you won’t even know what you missed. Even if you don’t meet celebs and stars and big movers and shakers, you just might come away with a nugget or two of good information or a lead that is worth following.
Rejection is second nature, the uniform of the ‘unicorn’, and you never know what the future is bringing. Hopefully Peperoni, cooked well done, and some packets of parmesan cheese. I’ll pass on the boxed wine and crackers, thanks anyhow.
In case anyone reading this cares, my startup project lives at http://www.u4ride.xyz
And yes, this a wordpress blog. All those plugins that say they do this or that with shortcode you can insert into a page or a post, usually never work, and are just bait to sell you a premium version with all sorts of wonderful features. If you don’t like my old-school handwritten HTML pages, I just don’t care. They sure load and function better than yours does, and you don’t get any fly in from the top popup windows asking you to subscribe to their mailchimp email list.
Use what works and discard the rest. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Youtube, well, are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We all use them, because at the end of the day, what choice is there. Not everyone is a hacker who got into Bitcoin and Blockchain when prices were really low and before they became buzzwords and started being talked about on CNBC. Even today, when you talk to most people about blockchain and tokens, they don’t have a clue but they had a brother who made some money with it. Then they tell you it’s too late and show you their Apple stock account, worth such and such in dollars. Just disregard the trillions in debt attached to each of those dollars and declare that the price of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is going to drop because not enough people are using it and the dollar and their gold and silver will be around forever.
These are just the mosquitos and prickly bushes you find in the forest of the reality world of business. Deal with it. Keep coding, keep learning, learn to unlearn and whatever happens, just smile and try to keep a good sense of humor.
DEVELOPERS AND VENTURE CAPITAL WANTED.