David has a Good day with the investor Goliaths

Yesterday was what we in the game of seeking investment call a ‘Good’ day.  It wasn’t a ‘Great’ day, in that we didn’t wake up to that glorious golden sunrise to be told that the Venture Caps have deemed there is life After Limbo and here is a cheque to feed the starving masses and thou shalt go forth and make it multiply.

It was only a ‘Good’ day.

On a ‘Good’ day, a potential investor tells you that you have a great idea and the business model is viable, the value proposition clear, the path to market sufficiently well-defined, the market sizing credible, the revenue targets impressive and the sum being sought eminently reasonable (nay, even a bit conservative and you should credibly ask for more). They tell you that this is exactly the type of space in which they want to be and that there is a gap in their portfolio that this would fill admirably and that their industry analysts have had a look and see the light.

But this is only a ‘Good’ day.

On a ‘Good’ day, the potential investor tells you that they are not going to back you. They tell you that although they would love to get behind a project like this, they don’t have sufficient confidence in your management team, and think you may lack a bit of focus in your marketing strategy. Because by now you can quote the plan and cite page numbers from memory (and add massive value by way of additional information carefully pruned from your tenth draft of the plan and held back for just such a discussion), you expand on your plans with conviction and flourish, stand firmly before the Goliath with only your words as  stones and a business plan as a sling. The interest of the investor is re-awakened. You impress them with the forcefulness with which you stand your ground. You see the clouds beginning to break…

But this is only a ‘Good’ day.

Your plan demonstrates that you have the right team to form the company, design the product and drive the development of an offering that will satisfy the requirements of a demanding and discerning customer base. Your plan spells out that you have maturely examined your abilities, understand your limitations, and intend to recruit the power team necessary to grow the fledgling company to the world-dominating, market-saturating leviathan of which the investor dreams. Your plan even shows that there is ample allowance of time and money to make this quite practical.

On a ‘Good’ day, you convert a flat and somber “No thanks” into a jovial potential investor who has agreed to send you the names of some power-managers who you could attempt to attract, with the caveat that of course they will be told in advance that the potential investor has declined to back you. You find them saying enthusiastically that if you can somehow get your product built and some customers on board, they would be interested, even enthusiastic, about funding the expansion phase. They, and the other largely silent voices at the end of the hollow sounding speaker-phone, wish you the best and implore you to contact them as soon as you get your first injection of funding.

On a ‘Good’ day, you put the phone down knowing you have fought the good fight and have only lost the battle and not the war. You have turned an adversary back into a potential ally.

But then you look in the mirror and suddenly recall the wonderful Monte Python scene – with severed arms and legs you are shouting at your opponent, “Come on, its only a flesh wound. Come back – I’ll bite your legs off!”.

Gradually it sinks in that a ‘Good’ day is really an awful lot like a ‘Not so Good’ day.

At the end of a ‘Good’ day, we in the game of seeking investment carefully brush our teeth. We know that tomorrow may be another ‘Good’ day, and even if all we have left is good strong teeth, maybe, just maybe, we will be able to bite their legs off  next time and convince the next Goliath that we actually have the rocks to get the job done.

We know that if we keep our teeth strong and an even stronger heart, tomorrow just might be a ‘Great’ day.

* This was written in 1999 when I was seeking funding for a B2B start-up, Translogistica. We did eventually have a Really Great Day and were funded by Warburg Pincus. And, yes, I do now recognise the mixed literary metaphors of Goliath and the Monty Python Black Knight, but I didn’t back then. 


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