Two Angels I’ll Never Forget (Who Didn’t Invest)

Last week we closed AirShr’s seed round. It’s a terrific milestone for our team and we couldn’t be happier with the investor group.

Anyone who has raised seed financing will tell you it’s an unavoidable part of the new venture roller coaster. It involves selling a vision and that usually translates to countless conversations, multiple pitch-deck iterations and barrages of questions as prospective investors size up the proposition and the team who claim they will deliver. This is par for the course.

We spoke to angel investors, VCs, media industry heavy-weights and friends and family. There were over 40 parties in total and we met with each party on average three times.

I’ll never forget the interactions we had with two very experienced angel investors very soon after we opened our round. They didn’t invest and in hindsight they were the most valuable to us for three simple reasons.

1. They Were Quick To Say ‘Thanks, But No Thanks’

This message can be hard to receive but don’t underestimate the value of a quick decision. The longer it takes to determine the interest of prospective investors, the longer you (and your co-founders) will be distracted from the main game — building a great business. The worst case scenario which we experienced more than once was this statement: “We’re excited about your product and interested in making an investment”. This comment is brilliant if the sentiment is genuine. However, if this response is used as a means to avoid a slightly more confronting conversation, it has real potential to waste the already precious time and bandwidth of founder(s).

2. They Were Genuinely Excited To Share Their Venture Investing Knowledge

For us, the knowledge came in two forms. The first was feedback relating to the milestones they thought were important for AirShr to achieve quickly based on their venture experience. The second type of knowledge came in the form of anecdotes about strategies that had worked (and hadn’t worked) for other ventures they were involved in. This helped validate and challenge our priorities and path to market which at the time was immensely useful.

3. They Were Keen To Help

And they did. ‘You should talk to …” was quickly followed up by introductory emails and as a result our network of prospective funders, suppliers and customers grew.

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Not all ‘thanks but no thanks’ investors act this way although, in addition to these two angels, some do. Oh, one last thing. We’ve stayed in touch with these angels since their initial decline because we hope to work with them in the future and, well, because we believe that being told ‘no’ doesn’t mean no forever.

Time to get back to work.

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I write about what I see building companies. Currently growing dropbio.com

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