The failure vortex and how to get out of it
It is easy to figure out when founders have been pitching for investments without any success and for a while. The pitches become nonstop monologues that will end at the allotted time or when abrupted by questions from us.
Naturally, the founders overcompensate to avoid failing on another pitch. They try different tactics to avoid disappointment, but a series of rejections can take its toll on a founder’s psyche, and slowly the tactics become bad habits. Many founders are not aware that these bad habits are creating a vortex that is attracting further rejections. What seems intuitively correct is practically fatal.
So here are a few tips for founders that will help them in their next pitch.
- Eliminate the problem areas in your pitch deck
If you’re getting stuck at the same point in your presentation, then it may be an excellent time to eliminate that slide. If that is a slide that you cannot eliminate then use an example to get your point across.
Doing the same thing again and again but expecting a different result is the definition of insanity- for a good reason!
- Speak at a measured space and
The two significant signs of low confidence are speaking in a high pitch and speaking at a fast pace. The good news is that there is an easy fix for this.
- Record yourself pitching so that you hear the difference between your regular and confident voice and that you use during pitching.
- Do test pitches where you speak in a tone much lower than your standard baritone and speak at slower than your average space.
- Write down, “breathe” at a spot where you can see it during your pitch and breathe.
These exercises may seem stupid to you, but you have to ensure that your message is getting into our heads. When you talk fast at a high pitch and without taking a breath, the only thing I’m thinking is – something is wrong with this business!
- Act as if
Yes you may have just enough money left to take the Uber ride home
Yes your core team may be on the verge of quitting
Yes your parents are hounding you to take that job you hate so you can make ends meet and;
Yes all this stress is tearing you apart inside
However, those are your problems that we are not aware of right now. During your pitch, we should not be feeling the weight of the issues we’re inheriting. Instead, we want to dream about the promise your opportunity holds, and we want to know you are the guy that will get us to that promised land.
Therefore, clear your head before you start a presentation. I watch specific videos or listen to particular music that gets me in the right frame a mind before I make my pitch for investment. I force myself into a mental state where all the issues in my personal or professional life don’t get reflected in my pitch for investment. For my investors, I am ‘the guy’ wearing the confidence of the success, and a bank account overflowing with money.
Confidence is infectious and FOMO is not a myth!
- Do not brag or lie
Asking you to act as if may seem like I am encouraging you to lie or brag but let me be clear that that is far from the truth.
A successful person does not need to stamp their success everwhere, and neither do they have to remind people of their success. Most of the successful people I know underplay their success, displaying palpable confidence that is felt but not witnessed.
Therefore when founders start bragging about meetings with Saif, Sequoia, Lightspeed or well-known super angels in a feeble effort to create FOMO they are pulling the rug from under them. We can safely estimate at what stage of the start-up’s development these top funds will take an interest in investing in them.
Therefore, bragging about meeting x, y or z, when you don’t have a POC, is a sign of your immaturity in understanding how the venture capital ecosystem works. To misunderstand their interest in taking a meeting is a sign that desperation is getting to you – not something you wish to convey to a potential investor!
Act as if is an attitude, a demeanor, and a mental state. There isn’t any space for lies and show off when you are acting as if.