Wow, quite a response on the “Expense Reports That Don’t Suck Is the TC50 DemoPit worth it?” blog post! Here are some other questions I’ve received in followup emails; feel free to send more to email@example.com:
Do I really need a partner, or can I do it all myself?
Answer: Yes, one-man-shows are fine. If you can arrange it, I do suggest bringing a partner to help demo. But it’s not crucial.
Must I do a live demo, or can I show a video?
Answer: Definitely do not show a video. People will assume your product doesn’t actually exist and will ignore you even more. People go to conferences to see the real deal, live. They can go to your website if they want to see a video.
Should I bring a big sign?
Answer: They’ll give you a sign with your company name. Some people bring others, but I don’t think I’d recommend it. The DemoPit is about startups. Anybody who rolls in with fancy signs feels out of place — it seems a bit pretentious to have some big huge thing when you’re just one dude with a laptop bootstrapping a startup. As an investor I’d really question your ability to spend wisely. Same goes for fancy printouts and trinkets — people are overwhelmed with junk at conferences, I’m not convinced any of it really has lasting value, and I suspect all of it is more damaging than helpful.
After the conference, how do I actually go out and raise money?
Answer: In general, it works like this:
- Get a list of everybody you know who has money, or knows people who have money. Ideally this list would be seeded with the contacts you meet at TC50.
- Pitch them all on the startup, focusing on three questions: “What do you think of the product?”, “How much would you be interested in investing?”, “Who else should I talk to? (Ask for an email introduction.)”
- Keep adding to your list until the sum of all the soft commitments exceeds the amount you want to raise by some healthy margin.
- Contact the person who is offering to put in the most money — this is the “lead investor”. This is the person you’ll negotiate the terms with; everybody else will “follow” and just rubber-stamp those terms.
- Ask the lead which of the followers they want in.
- Ask those followers if they’re in for real. Repeat 5-6 until you have a full set of investors.
- Finalize terms with the lead.
- Review terms with the followers.
- Ask everyone to sign.
- Get the money a bit later.
- Celebrate! Then get back to work. 🙂
This one obviously has a lot more detail behind it; if you’re interested in more, please let me know.