I am not good at fund-raising mostly because I struggle to empathize with investors.
The genius of Elon Musk
Elon Musk is a helluva entrepreneur. I do not agree with everything he does, but there is one thing I admire about him -- his ability to don the investor hat, the customer hat, and the engineer's hat, all at the same time.
He donned his investor's hat and worked the share price by attempting to change the conversation just before Tesla announced their 2019Q1 results with a special event known as Tesla's Autonomy Day. He wanted people to talk about how Tesla will become more than just an electric car manufacturer.
To boost sales, Elon Musk donned the customer's hat and figured out how to work them. He tweeted that Tesla's will stop selling cars once full self-driving is solved. He single-handedly created FOMO with Tesla's customer base.
My fund-raising experiences
I lack the ability to don the investor's hat. I have always gone into a pitch, as what I assumed it literally meant -- a pitch. I will brag about how I took the company from nothing into something. I will talk about traction, and I will talk about revenue, I will spit facts after facts. As an engineer, I can't help myself. I want people to judge me by what I have done.
But these investors were judging me as a person. What will Steven do in a crisis? How will Steven lead a team? Do people like Steven?
I failed the simple barometer test of essential trustworthiness because I was so focused on telling the story about the product. When in fact, I was the product.
There are two reasons why I am writing about this specific insecurity
- I want to grind past this weakness
- I want you, the reader, to know that the business is a reflection of who the CEO is as a person.
In my case, I have a specific inability to be human in front of an investor, and this has been negatively impacted the growth of my company. So, let's fix this.