The journey of building a startup to many seems daunting and unachievable. For me, it was very much the opposite. Over the past few months, since creating the first prototype and concept to the actual public release of our beta app, it’s been quite a journey to say the least. Pitching to over 100 people within the time span, only a few truly believed enough in the idea and even fewer decided to invest with their own capital during our first round of funding at Canvs+.
In this post, I wanted to share a few tips or pieces of advice I learned first hand by interacting with so many people from all walks of life. Many of whom I can call friends, mentors, investors, etc.
#1 Have a Conversation
For many people, a pitch session is a rehearsed performance that is to be repeated over and over again until someone finally likes the idea and wants to learn more. What I found, is that people are just people who want to have a genuine conversation about yourself, your idea, your background and most importantly, what makes you so passionate about your startup.
Some people during pitch meetings would even say, “hold off on the presentation deck and just tell me how are you doing?” That to me was shocking at first to hear that someone else wants to know more about me and my day. But thinking back, that’s the best way to analyze an investment opportunity or entrepreneur by learning more about their personality and background than merely the idea or startup itself.
So, over time, I became better at slowing down and having a “conversation” with that angel investor, venture capitalist etc.
#2 Ask for Recommendation and Harsh/Honest Feedback
It’s hard enough to schedule a meeting with a very high profile individual so why not make the most of that opportunity? This doesn’t mean asking for investment or a job/internship in the first meeting even before you have gotten to know them. This goes back to point #1 about having a conversation.
If you are pitching a startup, ask for how well you did with your elevator pitch or presentation overall. Genuine feedback will always help you refine not only your product but yourself as an entrepreneur. I can personally attest to this as I have improved upon my pitching skills and making my presentations more concise. So what if that feedback was harsh? Don’t take it personally rather make a mental note of that and see if it truly had merit.
Towards the end of your meeting, ask for a recommendation to someone or a few people you should speak with for more feedback or advice. Use that opportunity to connect with others at the office you are meeting. If you are meeting someone at a coffee shop, then simply offer to come in at another time into the office to meet others.
#3 Connect with Humble and Down to Earth People. Period.
Over the past few years, I have gotten to know a lot of people from various industries and backgrounds and here is what I have found. People who show compassion, are down to Earth, humble and genuinely interested in helping others make the best mentors, investors, friends etc. Trust me on this one.
It’s important to surround yourself with people who care and don’t let their success get to their head. They care about their family and friends before making money. They choose to spend time with helping the next generation get ahead by giving advice and telling stories of how they succeeded themselves. They are approachable and genuinely interested in learning about you before telling you about themselves. Find such people within your lives because they are absolutely there.
What’s Next for Canvs+?
As I am writing this blog post, I know we have a lot of work to do in order to achieve the vision I have set for Canvs+. It’s a long term commitment for sure (just as any true loving relationship). I also know a few select beta members, ranging from students to startups to large corporations, have believed in the idea so much and are providing continuous feedback to help us iterate the app further. That means the world to me as I see what was once a simple drawing in Adobe Illustrator turn into an interactive Visual Project Management App that people are actually using. It’s like watching a baby grow up…
Hope you found the three tips useful. As a fortune cookie once said, “winners make their own luck.” Remember to always think positive, be humble and believe in yourself before asking others to believe in you and your idea. #Awesome
founder + ceo, Canvs+
Commerce and trade existed in some form or another since the earliest days of mankind. From bartering of goods for other goods to the exchange of paper money and coins, man has come a long way in creating a stable form of system to allow such exchanges to occur. But what is next? Who is getting left behind? I still carry a few dollar notes and coins today (nothing more than $20 or so) because several places around New York won’t take credit or debit cards when your total is below $10 (or $8 in some places).
But merchants aren’t the only people who can’t take payment or money via cards. How do you give money to a homeless person on the street? I still carry coins and bills for this. Wouldn’t it be incredible if donations in the future were also made entirely electronically? I think so…In the event someone did decide to donate to a homeless person electronically, security would be one of the most important elements. If we tackle that issue, how do we handle the issue of technology in that case? Do we give away free square devices with wireless connectivity so that people walking by could swipe their credit cards and choose exactly how much to donate? Interesting thought, right? Wouldn’t that be a step forward in modernizing the way people ask and receive donations from others.
For almost everything else, my handy-dandy plastic visa card is the way to go for now but do think about how we are evolving as a society. Who is getting left behind? How do we help everyone “modernize” with the times?