I participated in the Veteran Venture Forum last week, where I pitched my company to investors to try and get funding to grow.
So, you may ask…Did I have a fun day? Yes! Did I get a bazillion dollars of funding? No, not yet and actually I didn’t ask for a bazillion dollars – that’s just silly.
National Defense University Foundation did such a wonderful job of organising the event. The ladies that run the show there are some of the most kindest and sweetest people you will ever meet. I felt a little out of place being the only military spouse pitching but I was made to feel welcome and very much a part of the event.
My pitch started off a little shaky. I stuttered and bumbled words for a few seconds. Now I am no stranger to public speaking, I did it for years as a teacher. Put me in front of an auditorium of 300 students to run an exam revision session for the entire year form, and I’m cool as a cucumber. Put me in front of 30 people who may determine the future success of my company? I go off script during sentence 5 and almost make a fool of myself.
But, I reined that beast in and got back on script. The remaining 10 mins plus Q & A went swimmingly and time flew by. When everything was said and done there were no investors making a beeline to me waving cheques and yelling deals. Shark Tank sure does things differently but even those deals they shake hands on, often do not go through.
One investor came up to talk with me during the day and said very pointedly “I think you need stronger designs.” Well excuse me Jean Paul Gaultier, I didn’t realise that it was Paris Fashion Week. I am not soliciting any fashion or design advice, especially not from a retired Army General. If he were to write me a cheque on the spot for the funding figure I was asking for, I would politely decline.
My husband watched this charade with amusement from a distance and knew something was said to summon my displeasure.
“The Face came on!”
Of course The Face came on. I am not very good at hiding my feelings, especially when someone (who clearly knows nothing about fashion or what Darling Betty’s philosophy is) is hyper-critical without so much as allowing me an opportunity to counter his points.
Truth be told, even as a young entrepreneur, I am scouting out the investors just as much as they are scouting me. If you’re going to take the devil’s money, you better be happy with the deal, and the devil, that you get. Seeking investors is necessary for most all businesses at some point during their life cycle. But like Jay Walker, the founder of Priceline, said during his keynote address at the VVF Tuesday, you need to be happy with the investors you’ve chosen and they need to understand how fortunate they are to have been picked by you. In the end, its about creating a team that can make incredible dreams happen.