Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pitching across the UK

‘been gone for a week, pitching for startup funding across various forums in the UK  We have a good plan and fantastic people associated with the proposals, rights to innovative technology and a modest budget.  Still, I don’t think that I can remember a harder job.

When I was part of the corporate scene, ‘budgeting’ was a yearly paper exercise in which I’d specify the project goals and milestones, list the people and contract expenses, and add 20% for materials and studies. Department rollups were reviewed and reduced by 10%, everyone got a 4% raise, and the new year fiscal year began with $3 million for 20 people and ten projects.

This spring, I’m raising a tenth that amount from angel investors for a single project.   We’ve got proposals and a team together, investor materials and slides prepared.  We’re given a date to present our pitch to a group of “high net-worth individuals”, angel investors, looking for the next big thing.  We’ve got 10 minutes to make our case, 5 to answer questions, then the next group, competing for the same people’s funds, gets up to give their pitch.  Then we wait for a call to say that the syndicate or individual has invested.

On the positive side, I have really come to know my projects, plans, and investors intimately, and have gotten some great collaborative advice.  At the same time, we’re asking people to give us their savings, which we’ll promise to return, multiplied several times over, in a few years.   We are visionary and confident; They must be critical and skeptical.  It’s a slow and difficult dance, and takes months to complete in this economic climate.

Still, we’re getting the job done; a half-dozen pitches last week, another set coming up mid-June.  “It’s 10% science”, my former research director always said.  The rest is all about people.