As an investor at a thesis-driven firm, but not necessarily focused on any given sector or industry, my knowledge base is more broad than deep. I often go into new pitches with a surface-level understanding of the model, yet I need to assess quickly if it’s a viable investment. I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade that help me get up to speed, and I’m sharing in case it might be helpful to new associates or aspiring angel investors. While it’s not new or groundbreaking (particularly if you have a background in consulting), I wish someone had shared this with me before I blundered through those first set of meetings with entrepreneurs.
- Find the time to prep – even if it’s just 15 minutes. You owe it to the entrepreneur who is setting aside time and effort, alongside running a company, to pitch you.
- Freak out a little bit before the pitch because you weren’t trained to sound like an expert when you’re not, and forget everything. But it’s ok. Ask good questions. You’re only as good as the questions you ask.
- Parrot what you hear as a way to test your understanding in real time until you can develop a working model of the opportunity.
- Again, you’re only as good as the questions you ask.
- Frame your questions around a few key models: risks, incentives, and market size. Feel entrepreneurs roll their eyes because it sounds like you’re asking generic questions, but these are critical for understanding any emerging innovation.
- Push yourself to share actionable feedback or market insight after the pitch.
- Or even better, make an intro to someone. Entrepreneurs will know their opportunity inside and out, but your network of investors and industry experts can provide data that might not be easily found.
- The best way to avoid this cycle is to carve out time to front load on research and develop thoughtful hypotheses about the future.
- Realize that you only have a small window between 5 to 6 am to do this type of deep work when the world is asleep. Don’t sleep very much.
- Read blogs about why you’re a douche annoying for glorifying admitting to sleep deprivation.
And a bonus tip for entrepreneurs: investors are reviewing hundreds of deals a year. Figure out what they don’t know and give them the background they’re missing. It’ll pay dividends throughout the conversation, and in diligence. Thank you for your patience.