that don’t impress me much….

Posted by in Investing, Opinions

Hi. Okay. So you have: a phenomenal CV, identified a mega problem/gap in the market, a genius CTO/co-founder, a brilliant business idea, a huge addressable market, some interesting and well respected investors/advisors and you will be worth £millions in a very short amount of time.

Unfortunately, in the words of Shania Twain, “that don’t impress me much….[oh oh oh oh]”.


Because with that list you are the same as the large majority of entrepreneurs that have managed to navigate their way to a first meeting. It is undifferentiated.

Now I know that sounds churlish, but if you sit on the side of the table of the person being ‘pitched’ business ideas then that is pretty much what everyone they see says to them. Think about it – why would you be pitching someone if you didn’t believe you matched the criteria above? You are the same as everyone else. Don’t turn-up unless you at least believe you have a brilliant idea.

What makes an opportunity interesting and unique is the elements around the ‘mega’ description that rise out of a ‘pitch’. That there is some degree of progression/validation/uniqueness that makes you think twice about the chances of the business being ‘the one’.

Now this list is harder to compile as, after the generics listed above, it comes down to specifics for each company.

However, as a general rule, I can boil it down to one simple thing – effort. Effort in developing a proposition against the grain, effort in working with what is probably bugger-all capital to prove some small but significant points in the business plan. Effort that produces some degree of evidence that the whole proposition is more than just a ‘very good idea’.

How you ‘impress me much….[oh oh oh]’ is by standing out from the crowd through the significant actions you have taken that your peers haven’t. Fundamentally demonstrating that as a founder/team you have the drive and initiative to take things forward regardless of the circumstance you are faced with. It is a massive indicator of the ability of a team to execute on a plan and deliver against the odds – a skill set that is invaluable in the years post-investment/involvement when things will inevitably not go to plan.

It needn’t be earth shattering either. A basic mock-up of a product that you have showed to 10 or so potential clients. A series of ‘client interviews’ that validate your proposition. Hard evidence of the opportunity based on your previous experience and even, incredibly positively, being born out of the learnings from a previous business failure.

I then also look for a good understanding of what ‘business milestones’ de-risk your idea and how these align to your fundraising goals – but in truth I am happy to work on these with teams that show they have that bit of extra ‘sizzle’ through their own efforts.

The conclusion? Read your pitch deck. It should include the mega list in paragraph one, but ask yourself whether it has, or you have conveyed, the elements that will make it stand-out from the crowd. Do you demonstrate those extra efforts/points of validation?