7.14pm. We have pushed back our deadline day to salvage something to next Thursday. In my mind we are in the zone whereby if anything happens… it’s a total miracle. I am facing the reality for what the situation is more and more; I have to with the clock ticking down at the rate it is.
Really something biblical needs to happen.
Speaking of which I was just in the gym and I had a phone call. Nobody phones me in the gym… nobody phones me much in general actually. I picked up…
“Hello John, its Bob Blank (made up name). How are you?”
“Good Bob. Just in the gym. Actually on a treadmill…killing myself.”
No idea who he is.
“Look, remember we spoke a couple of weeks ago. Well one of our investors wants to talk to you. We’re closing our fund this week.”
“Yeah sure. That sounds great.”
Completely lost. Not the foggiest.
“Great. Ok, he’ll probably call you this evening.”
“Thats great Bob!!!”
Anyway, there you have it. Do you believe in miracles?
Wishful thinking. But I’ll take a call from anyone just now.
10.13am. I know my calendar is a bit off now, and I’m not writing with the regularity I wanted… but yesterday was a write off for me based on the night prior.
Before I go on, I think it’s a good idea to give my early stage investors/ advisors names… as it will help you make sense of the story.
So here goes –
- Martin Landau – Elder, grey haired, wiley, no b/s investor.
- Hamptons Bill – Our most hands on investor. Questions everything. Clean cut. Everything is ‘swell.’
- Jeffrey – Highly respected in our field. He’s like the father you ask permission to marry his daughter. Astute, but can never get his time.
- Karen – Rock star investor. She’s supportive and tell’s me to do what I want.
- Eddie Vedder – Advisor in LA (not THE Eddie Vedder)
Might add to this list over time.
Anyway, so the night before last, I rang an advisor friend – Eddie Vedder in LA to get his sense on what our valuation might be.
Eddie – “Well dude, I mean what are they paying for, what are they buying? If this company doesn’t acquire it, who else will?”
John Startup ”Well eh….”
Eddie – “How much money have you made with it so far?”
John Startup – “Well nothing”
Eddie – “If this company are interested in acquiring I would do anything to make it happen.”
John Startup – “Hamptons Bill is saying 5-10 million.”
Eddie – “That’s ridiculous where is he getting that from?”
John Startup – “Well eh….”
Eddie – “This is your big bro talking. Take something lower. Put some money in your pocket… and take an executive job with them. You’ll be on a big salary.”
John Startup – “Ok, so your saying 3/4 or 5?”
Eddie – “It’s complicated man”.
John Startup – “Well what does you gut say?”.
Eddie – “Look man, I got to go”.
After that it was off to an annual cocktail gathering held by Martin Landau. I decided to tell Martin that we were asked to propose a price. When I asked him what he thought… he said – “Whatever makes you happy”.
His associate on the other hand said 15-20 million.
The night rambled out of control after that. We mooched in on Martin Landaus dinner, drank too much wine, and ended up singing karaoke till late… very very late. There may be even video evidence.
Hence yesterday, I was extremely tired and emotional.
Today we hope to get our offer over to the potential buyer.
6.13pm. Exhausted. Mentally and physically drained.
Just lost an epic five setter in ping pong against a guy in my office who never beats me. I was defeated on the floor like McEnroe in the 70s (or was that the 80s?).
I’m home for a planned quiet Friday night in, but just remembered there is a gynormous Holloween party scheduled to rock my building this evening. Any night but tonight I would join in.
I had my rehearsal presentation this morning with one of our existing investors using a presentation I’ve never even presented before. Clever eh. He thought it looked good, but wanted to see more.
This particular investor we’ll call ‘Martin’ as he always reminds me of the actor Martin Landau. He’s older, and wiser… he’s wily… and he calls a spade a spade. He’s highly respected and astute. He sees through bullshit and gets to the point. In one way its refreshing because investors are prone to B/S too… in another was it’s tough… as he’s hard to sugar coat things with.
“What have you been doing for the last few months, just sitting on your hands?” asked Martin.
His sidekick said he wanted to see much more in the presentation, such as biographies of employees, social media stats, press quotes etc. This is totally opposite to advice we got from another investor who said they wanted to see less. 10 slides. That’s it.
I’m convinced there is no real science to a presentation. You need to tell the story in an exciting, passionate, clear way. If you can add a bit of wit I always feel that helps. But even then the person in front of you needs to be on your pulse or you have no hope.
Sometimes it’s so hard to try get them to just wake up in that moment. “We’ve discovered how to make planes fly on water!”… No budge. “Did you hear me, this will revolutionize aviation.” Nothing. “We’ll make jazillions!… Hello… Hellooooo.” They have heard so much before, that in some ways they can be going through the motions.
I’m being harsh on our existing investor though. He is constructive. He left the room and slagged off my appearance. I liked that. It showed his humor and relaxes the tone.
His sidekick meanwhile took out his laptop and proceeded to give us a range of email introductions to other possible investors. So we couldn’t have asked for more.
Although I did subtly broach the subject of a bridge round of financing. I don’t know where that came from.
So with the weekend here, Monday is a big day. I have 3 meetings – one with an industry legend (who I want to invest), one meeting thats a warm up to that meeting with two of our existing investors, and another ‘rehearsal’ presentation.
Time is running out, but things are happening.
6.14pm. Looking at the computer screen. Seeking divine inspiration. It’s not forth-coming today. Have felt slow and lethargic. There’s probably more that I can be doing. But what is it? I feel like going on a beer (and whiskey) bender, and moaning in the ear of some poor friend. But I’ve been good of late… and it would write off the whole of tomorrow.
And I need to be around tomorrow incase divine inspiration should arrive. (Hello… divinity… where are you? )
One of our current investors has asked me and my sidekick to come in later in the week and walk them through our pitch and our deck. We have identified a list of possible VC’s who might fund our Series A, and we are hoping our current investors can give necessary introductions. But the process of going in and giving a run through fills me with insecurity. Particularly with this investor who is old-school. This is not the Kumbaya investor who just wants to create something great. He see’s straight through the B/S.
He is looking for something black and white with a huge scalable vision. He also wants proof in the pudding based on what we have achieved in the last year. Have we done enough to warrant a next round? Certainly not in my opinion. This is where I need to fill the gaps with believable B/S. I need my best acting abilities and charm offensive switched on.
I’m always best when I can give a passion play. But it’s very hard to give a passion play in a rehearsal. I need the cameras rolling.
This investor is only trying to help… but at the same time I’m intimidated. He’s closer to it. He can see through it. He’s tough to impress.
Strikes me that we will need another deck. The deck we currently have is a good deck for someone to flick through alone. I feel we need a better deck presentation that I can talk people through. So I need to cobble that together in short time. Have put off doing that all day. My creative brain is running very low.
On a positive note, I do see a slight opportunity here to go in and bowl our current investor away. Maybe I can give them no choice but to put his hand in his pocket again. Thats undoubtedly the way I should be looking at it. I need more of that vigor. Perhaps I’m just out of gas. Maybe the salesman in me has ran out of juice to keep selling this.
The worse possibility is that I’m just too lazy to get my mind through the obstacle coarse. Mental energy lacking…
Ok, enough of this indulgent internal monologue.
Off to make… another deck.