Every day, in offices up and down Sand Hill Road, founders meet with venture capitalists to make their pitch. For entrepreneurs, these aren’t mere meetings. They are defining moments, perhaps life-changing ones.
Only the truly clueless would be unprepared for meetings of this magnitude. Rock-solid business plan? Check. Technology road map? Check. Go-to-market strategy? Market analyses? Financial projections?
Check. Check. Check.
And yet…despite all that exhaustive effort, many entrepreneurs are not truly ready for what might one of the most important meetings of their career. They aren’t prepared with an answer to the most basic question of all: Why?
VCs have told us and told the world that the key question they want answered is not “What do you do?” but “Why are you doing this?”
The answer is never “because we think it’ll make money.” Of course the plan is designed to make money; that’s a given. No one writes a business plan without believing their idea can make money.
So the answer to the question “Why?” must be something else entirely. The best answers contain a belief. A conviction. A heartfelt desire to do something great, something meaningful, something compelling.
At the very least, the entrepreneur should want to make an impact — and believe doing so is not just possible, but inevitable.
The successful entrepreneur must be able to articulate this why along many dimensions: Why this product? Why now? Why does the market need this solution (even if — especially if — the market doesn’t yet recognize or understand the need)?
But most important, successful entrepreneurs will need to be able to explain why their product or solution or company matters. What difference will it make in the world? Why does this idea excite them? VCs are looking for something that aligns to a bigger idea — perhaps even a noble one.
So: Don’t forget to talk about “why this matters” in your pitch to VCs. Most entrepreneurs are rock-solid when it comes to articulating their value proposition, growth projections, technical capabilities, and market opportunities. But reserve a little part of your pitch deck to answer the question “Why?”
“Why” isn’t a tough question to answer. But it’s an extremely tough question to answer from your heart…to be convincing about what motivates you and why you’ll get up every day to make it a reality.
Call it “Why” or call it your it your first step in defining your brand. Either way, make sure its part of your pitch, it matters more than you think.
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy and design consultancy that works with founders, startups, high-growth companies and VCs.
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Originally published at www.emotivebrand.com on March 22, 2017.
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