5 things you should never say to an investor

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Believe it or not, investors want to give you their money. All of it. They will gladly hand you enormous sums of cash if you have assembled a good team, created a good product, and adequately researched your market. That being said, there are many ways to screw up and miss your chance of getting funded. To help you succeed in your next pitch, I have listed the top five things you should never say to an investor:

“My co-founder is joining part-time”

If your idea is worth $100 million, your co-founder won’t want to stay at his current job. And if you can’t find someone to join you full-time, is your idea really worth $100 million?

“We don’t have any competition”

This is never true for any startup. Every product has competition, even if the competition is simply non-consumption. Don’t gloss over your competitive landscape slide because you want to appear to be entering a blue ocean. Contrary to popular belief, sharing detailed information on your competitors will not hurt you–it actually helps. The existence of competitors actually validates that you have a good idea. If an investor sees that you really understand your competitors, he or she is more likely to trust that you’ll be smart enough to beat them. According to Sun Tzu, "Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster."

“We need $15,000 USD to rent an office”

If Steve Jobs can build Apple out of his garage, you can build your startup from a cafe with wifi. Remember, Steve didn’t have wifi.

“We have a straightforward exit strategy”

Some investors will disagree with me on this, but I side with Mark Cuban when he says, "Don't start a company unless it's an obsession" and "If you have an exit strategy, it's not an obsession” (Entrepreneur). Investors want to see you obsessed about your startup. They want superhuman entrepreneurs who will give everything to turn their ideas into successful companies. If you’re already thinking about an exit strategy, you’re not doing it for the right reasons. Money was never as powerful of a motivator as passion.

“I’m just a little nervous”

Pitching to a venture capital or angel investor is not a formal process. You should be relaxed. Wear jeans and a t-shirt if it makes you feel better. This isn’t Wall Street, it’s high-tech. Drop the formalities and turn your startup pitch into a two-way conversation. It will make everyone feel better about your idea. 

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