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Taking Shortcuts in Order to Secure Investment Funds Is the Pursuit of Fools Gold and Insures Failure

by: Geoff Ficke

Just today, on a single Linked-In group I visit, I have seen at least five naked pitches seeking funding for a new consumer product, concept or invention. This occurs almost every day on these sites. The efforts are always clumsy, transparent, sophomoric, and can only lead to futility.

How do I know these attempts to secure investment funds lead to futility? Because they continue for weeks and typically become more desperate and shrill sounding. As a consultant who has worked in the Venture Capital and Investment Banking space for many years I can state with certainty that if an item or project is as good as claimed, this is not the way to excite a funding round from sophisticated, serious investors.

Social media is a wonderful new vehicle for spreading and gaining knowledge, acquaintances and opening exciting new doors but only if handled professionally. The same steps that must be accomplished when seeking funding from traditional sources must be followed in this new world unless the offer is to be dismissed as that of a carnival barker. Here are just a few tips.

  • Support the appeal for funding with a compelling set of bullet pointed factoids that reflect that you have performed essential due diligence.

This type of support is almost never on offer. Claims to wondrous product benefits are stated with no supporting research offered.

  • Offer to provide a customized Business Plan after completing a Non-Disclosure Agreement that will confirm the assumptions stated in the appeal for funding.

The shortcut most indicative of a project built on dreams and whimsy is one without a well constructed plan that demonstrates how funds will be used and the realistic return on Investment that can potentially be realized.

  • Be very careful not to scare off possible targets of opportunity with claims of scientific breakthroughs.

Just today I read an appeal for $1.5-3 million for a technology that targeted cures for numerous serious physical maladies. These maladies included the “O” word: oncology! Cancer centric treatments require hundreds of millions of dollars to pass unbelievably rigorous testing hurdles. A few million dollars would not buy enough Bunsen burners to start a project.

  • Research and create a customized Marketing Strategy and Sales Model that will support the assumptions needed to interest funding sources in investing in the project.

A perceived good consumer product idea is of no use unless there is a strategy in place to fully commercialize the good or service in the frenetic retail marketplace. This kind of professional service is readily available from consultants, universities and local government agencies. What is the Unique Selling Proposition that separates the item from competition? Who is the competition? What is the needed profit margin necessary to prosper in the space? These and dozens of other questions and issues will ultimately need to be addressed.

  • In order to raise awareness and interest from serious funding sources have perfected prototypes, manufacturing sources, logistics, dead net landed cost of goods per mass production of the item and pricing models available.

Many of the requests I review in social media have one or several of these steps nailed down. However, almost never do they have the full flotilla that would indicate that the prospective entrepreneur is serious and viable. This is a shortcut that we see in every form of funding request that we review.

  • The hardest money to raise, in social media, cloud investing or traditional Venture Capital is small amount requests.

Investors, whether individual or sophisticated groups, like to see sweat equity from entrepreneurs and this includes that they have money on the table. Small requests for $10,000 or $25,000 are referred to as 3-F money. These are funds that come from friends, family or fools. Typically this level of funding is much too small to be of interest to traditional sources of Venture Capital.

There are a near endless number of deals and projects seeking a finite amount of capital. If you seriously believe your project deserves consideration for funding then fully demonstrate your passion. Do not take shortcuts. If you do you simply obviate yourself and your project from any possibility of success.