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Common Pitfalls in Fundraising (and how to avoid them)

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This blog post is written by Peri Kadaster


If you’re a start-up looking for its first round of funding, whether it’s for a few thousand dollars or a few million dollars, asking for capital can be daunting. A few do’s and don’ts about fundraising.
Don’t go on and on about the top school you graduated from – a certain diploma is rarely an indicator of startup success (and can actually backfire, if you come across as unwilling to get your hands dirty).
Do talk about relevant work experience – have you ever taken a concept from thought to thing? Do you have relevant industry expertise and/or contacts? Tell a story about why you are uniquely poised to successfully solve a problem for your customers.
Don’t explain your market size as relative to a population – eg “if we get only 1 percent of the population of China, we’ll be huge!” It’s rarely accurate, and it doesn’t address the key question a potential is trying to understand – how you will get there.
Do introduce whatever data on consumer adoption and engagement you have – whether it’s a pilot, focus group, web analytics, or app session length, these early indicators are critical to understanding growth potential.
Don’t take anything personally. Especially in the early days a founder’s identity becomes so intertwined with the startup – but remember that there are countless elements that play into whether an investor decides to sign that check.
Do ask for feedback – some of the most impactful advice I’ve gotten has been from people who have decided not to invest in my companies. VCs and experienced angel investors especially have significant experience in identifying key success factors and risks to manage – learn from their insights.
Perhaps most importantly, treat everyone you pitch with the same level of respect and professionalism – the entrepreneurship ecosystem is a small one, and someone who doesn’t invest in you today may be a key ally in the future.

─ August 4, 2014