Finding early stage investors can be like looking for a very small needle in a very large haystack. And in downturns it gets even worse. In depressions like we have just gone through its like finding nats on camels asses while they sprint for their lives in a sandstorm. Given that venture capital dudes have largely lost the art of early stage investing where do you go? Well, start by thinking about the DNA of an early stage investor: they are visionary, strategic thinkers, risk takers, curious, into ‘new’, positive mannered, entrepreneurial by nature and have MONEY. That’s why VC’s have largely left early stage – ‘cos almost none of them are any of these things except perhaps for the money part – sometimes. Entrepreneurs are, investment bankers can be (sorry – but true), family members and friends could be, celebrities like to be and the super rich don’t need to be because they have so much dosh that grabbing a little bit should be a breeze. Start by making a list of your friends and family and see if any of them meet the above profile – if so hone in on them. Ask them who they know that fits the profile and might like you and your idea. And network, seeking out folk that match the profile. The investor is likely to be an individual so behave like a private investigator looking for a missing person: ‘the early stage investor’. And expect to turn over a great deal of stones and kiss a lot of frogs. Persistence is the only way – that and making sure you don’t fluff pitches with folk that actually meet the early stage investor profile. ‘Cos there aren’t many of them. Another way is to get your first customers to be your early stage investor by actually paying for your product(s). But thats a whole other story.
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