No matter how many times I told my friend that he needed to get a deck together for a potential capital raise and model out some thoughts on market sizing and financials, I ran into resistance. It was not because he didn't think it was important or that it mattered. It was because he was understaffed and going 60 miles per hour trying to get a product released. I can understand that pain but at the same time, if you want to raise capital from anyone, you need to have the basics covered.
Fast forward 6 weeks from that last conversation, and we ended up having a meeting with a "friendly" VC to receive some market feedback on where his company stood and what needed to get done to raise capital. And sure enough, it didn't take long for my friend to be questioned on the revenue model, potential market size and opportunity, and how long the cash would last. Of course, he did have some strong answers but they were not what the VC was looking for – it was not quantitative enough. We all know that coming up with market sizing and revenue forecasts for a startup is as accurate as the weatherman predicting the weather. That being said, VCs want to understand the logic behind the numbers as much as the numbers themselves.
Overall the meeting went as I suspected it would – a VC who was very interested in the product but also highlighting the fact that the revenue model was not clear. The kiss of death for me on the revenue side was when the entrepreneur said that he would monetize the company like Facebook and Twitter. Hmmm? We all know that Facebook and Twitter are unbelievable web phenomenons and suck up incredible user attention. And yes I am sure that Twitter will find a way to monetize the stream of data flowing through the system and I am sure that Facebook has tremendous value. That being said accumulating users and worrying about revenue years from now is yesterday's news. Unless you have tremendous scale when you show up at a VC's door, then don't bank on ad revenue as your only revenue source. We have seen the market numbers-overall online ad revenue declining but search revenue increasing. In addition we all know that social apps on the consumer side have incredibly low CPMs and that you need massive numbers to turn into a business. So if you want to get funded, you better have a clear answer on how you will make money and either be implementing that model today or in the short-term. What VCs are looking for is a revenue model today that makes sense – this can include premium subscription revenue, analytic revenue, and even lead generation revenue, but don't ptich massive scale and advertising as your go-to revenue souce 24 months from funding. You will be shown the door quite quickly.