TSP054 | Adam Quinton – Transcription

TSP055 | Nihal Mehta – Transcription
TSP053 | Claudia Iannazzo – Transcription

John:

Welcome to “The Successful Pitch” podcast. Today’s guest is Adam Quinton, the founder and CEO of Lucas Point Ventures. Adam has been a pitch judge many times and has great insights as to what you need to do to convince him to fund you. One is your idea has to be big, and you have to have the right team. You have to show some traction. He said a pitch deck is a prop to sell you.

He’s really not investing in your product, so don’t bother with a product demo. He’s investing in equity in your company, because most likely, the idea will change. What he’s doing is, “Tell me your creation story. How did you come up with this idea? Why are you so passionate about it? Because that’s what I’m really funding. I want to know that you have passion and energy, because that’s what I am looking for when I listen to a pitch.” Enjoy the episode.

Are you a founder struggling with your investor pitch? Do you need warm introductions to the right investors to get your start-up funded? Do you need a funding road map to get you there fast? All of this and more can be found in “Crack the Funding Code.” Judy Robinett, best selling author of “How to be a Power Connector,” and on the board of Illuminate Ventures, and I, invite you to our free “Crack the Funding Code” webinar. Simply go to Judy Robinett, J-U-D-Y-R-O-B-I-N-E-T-T dot com and click on the webinar tab to see how to tap into our network of investors around the world. There’s a link in the show notes as well. You’re only one click away from getting funded fast.

Hi, and welcome to “The Successful Pitch” podcast! Today’s guest is Adam Quinton, who is the founder and CEO of Lucas Point Ventures. He’s also an adjunct professor at Columbia University. He’s got so many acknowledgements that I don’t even know where to start, but let me just give a few. One of them is in 2014, Adam was the Alley Watch named ’25 Angels You Need to Know;’ so we’re excited we get to know him. One of the ‘100 New York City Tech Influencers,’ and one of the ‘8 VCs Making Waves.’ Adam, welcome to the show. Let’s make some waves!

Adam:

Well, I’ll try our very best to do that, John.

John:

I always love to find out someone who’s as accomplished as you are. How did you get interested in the VC world? I know you have a very strong background with B of A and Merrill Lynch, but can you take us back to even just college days. Did you know that this was where you wanted to end up?

Adam:

Not at all, not at all. I would characterize myself very much as an accidental investor. I would claim no great foresight or insight. Essentially, I had a fairly long career in a sort of traditional financial, really involved in public market stuff. Left that some years back and again, pretty much accidentally fell into early stage investing, really on the recommendation of a former colleague. Got involved, got more involved, and here I am. I can’t claim to any foresight at all, but I’m glad I got here.

John:

Well, how did you get from Cambridge to America? Let’s ask about … Let’s see that journey.

Adam:

Okay, so as folks can probably tell from my bit of an accent, I started off in the UK, was born and grew up there.

John:

Yes.

Adam:

Actually, I came to the US by a fairly long stint in Asia. I moved to Asia with a prior job and spent 7 years based in Singapore, traveling around the region pretty extensively. Then, essentially because of a personnel change in the company I was working for at the time, got asked to come over to the US and fill in a position that needed to be filled pretty quickly. Actually, my sort of start in the UK was just a start, and I had a really interesting time in Asia. I have to say, I think that was very formative experience. Particularly when it comes to thinking about the importance of diversity in life, diversity in business, and also, frankly, diversity in investing.

John:

Interesting. I’ve also want to ask you about, you’ve been a pitch judge several times; once for the economic empowerment, and once for women 2.0 in two different years. What do you look for? What tips, since this is called “The Successful Pitch,” that’s what makes you the perfect guest. What do you look for when you’re listening to a pitch that you could share for the listeners?

Adam:

Okay, well I tend to look for 3 things, and I don’t think this is original, but I will cite it anyway. The first thing that when you’re doing your pitch, you need to convince me, or frankly, I think any investors, that what you’re doing could be big. I’ll qualify that in a minute, but unless you’re going to be big, you’re not really going to get anybody’s attention.

The second thing is you’ve got to convince me or at least get me to start thinking that you might have the right team to do that even if it’s just you, or you and a co-founder, or you, a co-founder and 5 other people. Whatever it is, you’ve got to convince me that the team are the people that can execute on the vision with. You’ve got to make whatever it is, big.

Then, thirdly, a helpful factor is whatever stage you’re at, convincing me that you’ve got some traction, whether it’s minimal relative to your stage, or more if you’re further along, that you’ve got some traction that validates that what you’re doing makes sense.

Then, going back to the “Can you be big?” piece. I’ll break that down a little bit more. You’ve got to convince me that the market that you’re playing into is big enough. People like to see billions, and sometimes that’s a little bit hokey, but the market size has got to be of substance. The second thing in the “Can you be big?” is have you got a solution to a really pressing problem? Something that has the potential to be big in that context. It’s got to be a big market. It’s got to be a solution that makes sense.

Then, the other piece in the “Can you make it big?” is, “Is this the right time?” It could be a great opportunity, it could be a great market, but there’s got to be something that says “Why now?” Because by definition, if this is something that somebody could have done 5 years ago, well, why didn’t they?

John:

Right.

Adam:

Why now is it uniquely a good time? That would be my sort of tips in terms of stuff I look out for.

John:

That’s terrific. I really like that element of “Why now?” Because if you’re too late, or too early, it just won’t work, right? There’s been all kinds of research about why AirBNB, for example, or Uber, is so successful was the timing was perfect with the smartphones to allow people to.

Adam:

Exactly. Yeah, yeah. Exactly.

John:

When you look for the right team, one of the things you wrote about, one of your blogs, is telling people to talk about the story of how they created their team or their idea, because that’s what makes you so memorable. Can you give us a little deep dive into that topic?

Adam:

Okay. Well, in terms of the team, a couple of things. One is, as I heard somebody say literally last week, “If you haven’t got a co-founder, find one.” The point being that obviously there can be companies that are successful, indeed, are many companies that are successful with a single co-founder, but that’s a really tough road to go down. I think from an investor’s point of view, having 2 or 3 co-founders, frankly, and the evidence suggests this is the case, it is more … It makes for a business more likely to be successful because the single co-founders brain can blow up with all the stresses on them. That’s my first point about the team.

The thing that you’re eluding to is a way that you present yourself. I think, personally is very compelling, particularly if it’s a face-to-face situation. If the founder, or founders, tell you their creation story upfront … The point being the “Why I am doing this” can be very powerful. Everybody reacts to stories, responds well to a well-told story, and if the story is the story about you, and why you got into this, that can fulfill a number of objectives. For example, without, in a way, being too intentional, you can basically communicate what your domain expertise is. Like, “I’m doing this because I live this problem, and knew there had to be a better solution.” That tells me something.

John:

Yup.

Adam:

It also helps with communicating the passion. You’ve got to be passionate. You’ve got to have energy. That comes across much better, potentially if you’re telling the foundation story. That’s important because the investor needs to know that you’re really committed to this, you have got that passion. I think it’s difficult to do, obviously if it’s not in a inter-personal face-to-face type of situation; but if you are face-to-face, think about basically putting yourself out there and telling your creation story upfront.

John:

That’s so helpful. I really, really like that. The other line that you’ve said that we want to tweet out is, “Your pitch deck is a prop for you.” That’s such a great line. Can you expand upon that just a little bit?

Adam:

Well, I’d start by saying, particularly if you’re … Say you’re presenting to a room of people. You should think about the fact that the projection system could blow up, your computer could blow up.

John:

Right.

Adam:

Nobody should be in a situation where, if the tech fails, they can’t deliver the pitch just as well as if the tech wasn’t there.

John:

Yes.

Adam:

That’s the start point for that observation, that the tech, the presentation is really a support for you. It’s a prop for you. One thing that is behind that is ultimately, different people have different opinions on this, but ultimately, particularly at the early stage, yes, I’m investing in your great idea, into your great market, with your wonderful traction; but above all things, I’m investing in you. I have to be convinced that you are the right person to do this. You are the person that understands the market, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. It’s very much about you.

I think people who try and fill their decks with a bazillion factoids totally miss the fact that most of those factoids are utterly irrelevant, partly because a lot of them are going to be invalidated by future events, and have a lot of hypothesis in them that will be proved right or wrong. Ultimately, it’s about the you, and from that point of view, everybody should be able to deliver their pitch without any sort of PowerPoint, or whatever, support.

By the way, I’ve seen entrepreneurs get in that situation. One in particular I can remember where the tech failed, they had to deliver their presentation without their support. They did an awesomely good job, partly because it was them talking. It was them looking you straight in the face, and it connected much better, frankly.

John:

Interesting. Well, what’s your opinion about having a short product demo video as part of the pitch deck. I saw you wrote something that you thought that maybe wasn’t such a great idea sometimes.

Adam:

Again, different people have different opinions. Some people like it, some people don’t like it. I think most investors don’t get a lot out of it, particularly in an initial meeting. I certainly don’t personally. That’s for a number of a reasons. Again, I want to hear you tell your story, and crucially, I think what some entrepreneurs don’t understand is what you’re selling is not your product. I’m not buying your product. I’m buying, ultimately, an equity ownership in your company. What you’re pitching to me is different from your product. Your product is a piece of that story, but only a piece of that story.

John:

There we go.

Adam:

If you spend too much time on the product, you’re going to miss things that really matter. Like, how big is this market? Why is this a real problem? How I have the great team to solve this problem. All of those things are as important as the product.

I think some entrepreneurs think that they’re doing a product demo. They’re not. They’re doing a pitch to sell equity in their company. If they think of it like that, they’ll realize that the product demo basically takes up a lot of time that could be filled in with other stuff. From my point of view, the purpose of the first pitch is singular. There is only one purpose for your first pitch. It is not to get me to invest in your company. I will never invest in a company on the pitch.

John:

No.

Adam:

You have one purpose, and one purpose only, which is to get me to do another meeting.

John:

Exactly, yup.

Adam:

Then, in the second meeting, I can say, “Okay, well I didn’t … It’s sort of interesting. I like where you’re going. I don’t quite understand how the product works. Can you take me through that?” Then you can do the demo, that’s fine.

John:

Right, got it. Nice. That’s so helpful. Let’s play out the whole scenario. Do you typically look for warm introductions to get … How does someone get in front of someone like you, pitch to get a second meeting, and then what is … Let’s take that journey. What’s the best way for someone to get in front of someone like you to look at the pitch deck first, and then you decide if you want to have a meeting?

Adam:

That’s a complicated question, and again, different people have different approaches.

John:

Right.

Adam:

I think if you’re generalizing about the act of angel investor, VC investor, early stage investor of whatever flavor, most of them have more things coming into their inbox than they can deal with. Which is why the warm intro is so valuable, because rightly or wrongly … and you could argue wrongly, actually, but to make life management, it provides a screen and a filter.

John:

Right.

Adam:

Such that I think, particularly for some of the more active, larger VC funds, unless you have a warm intro, they won’t even look at the deck that you send in, because they simply don’t have the time.

John:

Yes.

Adam:

I think from that point of view, talking to any active investor without a warm intro is basically putting into the low odds lottery game. That intro of itself is multi-faceted because like a warm intro from John, or a warm intro from Adam, or a warm intro from let’s say, Richard Branson, again, if you don’t-

John:

Yes.

Adam:

If Richard Branson gives us a warm intro, we’ll get on the plane to see the person.

John:

Yes.

Adam:

Again, there’s different levels of strength of warm intro. In that context, we can go down that route if you want, but I think frankly, the best warm intros come from entrepreneurs.

John:

Interesting.

Adam:

Not the founders.

John:

Yes. Especially someone, if you’ve invested with them. I would assume that would really be the best.

Adam:

Well, I’ll just qualify that. The answer to that is “Yes,” but there’s a higher level than … There’s a company I’m invested in, so let’s take the example, which I think you were going to talk about a bit later, The Muse. Catherine Minshew, the CEO of The Muse, if Catherine recommends to me to speak to somebody, I would generally do that, and I will do that A) because I’m invested in The Muse, I’ve got a lot of respect for her. All entrepreneur intros are not equal.

John:

Right.

Adam:

Investors, for purely psychological reasons, will put more weight on introduction from entrepreneurs whose businesses are doing really well.

John:

Got it. Of course, that makes sense.

Adam:

The Muse is doing really well.

John:

So that’s got some credibility!

Adam:

Yeah.

John:

The other one I wanted to ask you about is, Snaps. What was it about Snaps, the team or the market, that said “Wow, this whole concept of messaging is really something I am interested in, and this team is the right team to do that?”

Adam:

Well, I’m glad you asked that question because it is a perfect example of why the team … and in this case, it was a sole-founded company, whereas, the thing to back, not the business because when I invested in Snaps, it wasn’t doing what it’s doing now. At that point, what they were trying to do is use user-generated content through a, if you want a better description, an type of app to promote brand messages in a manner that would be sort of the equivalent of a warm intro in social media. Like, I see the picture of you with some brand message attached, but it’s shared to me by a friend so it’s not intrusive advertising. That was something that they tried, were reasonably successful, but it was really not going the way that they hoped.

They pivoted, essentially around the turn of the calendar year, into using some of the same technology into the messaging space. I did not invest in their messaging platform, but I am glad that I invested in Vivian Rosenthal, who’s the founder. Because again, classic example: you invest in the founder because they’ve got vision, they’ve got passion, they’ve got commitment. They’ve got all of those things.

In this case, the founder had a vision that I invested in, but the founder had a more expansive vision and had passion, and energy, and all those other things. Such that when, basically the shit was hitting the fan, and the initial vision that the founder had wasn’t really working out, the founder had that expansive vision to say, “How can we do this differently? How can we repurpose this technology? What is the sort of social media 2 dot O space that we can use our technology in, where brands have a problem communicating with, you know, with a whole group of particularly, you know, younger, potential, you know, customers of theirs?” Again, I can claim no credit for investing into what is currently a very successful messaging tool, because when I invested in it-

John:

Yes.

Adam:

We weren’t even talking about that.

John:

Fascinating. Is there something that you like to invest in? Like some people say, “Well, I love mobile,” or “I love medical.” I’m looking … The Muse is obviously about careers and Snaps is about messaging. Is there something that you … Certain categories that you say, “This is really my sweet spot. I like to hear pitches on.”

Adam:

That’s a good question, and because I’m a sort of solo operator, I have the luxury of being able to invest in what the heck I like, and what appeals to me. I would have to say, generally speaking, things that have got some sort of B-to-B component to them that I can understand; ideally, also assist in some way, the most interesting. I’ve worked in a big company. I’ve hired people. I know some of the challenges, so from that point of view, I can only understand and be a little bit helpful, with The Muse, to use that example, again. Another company that I would cite is , which is essentially an open table for events platform. Again, I’ve organized events. I know the points, not in a deep way, but enough to at least understand what they’re doing; and again, be able to offer some advice and assist them, which I think is important for all investors to do.

John:

Yes, exactly.

Adam:

That’s the general rule, but I’ve got outliers, which again, my unconstrained format, things that I can do, because it just peaks my interest at the time. Often, well not often, I think exclusively, that is because I’m saying to myself, “I don’t know that much about this space, but this founders are just clearly exceptional. And, I don’t know what the shit they’re going to do, but they’re going to do something.”

John:

Nice. Where do you, Adam, like to fall into this whole process? Do you like to be one of the very first investors? Or, do you like to see other investors in before you come in? How much do you typically invest at the beginning?

Adam:

I’m a relatively early, not a big check person. The earliest I’ve been is literally the first check, or in fact, there were 2 of us that put the first check in to help an entrepreneur literally get off the ground from nothing. I don’t think I’ve invested in … I’ve never directly invested in a company at the stage. I’ve done early stage notes, or seed rounds. I’m relatively early from that point of view. Again, to be honest, my relatively small check in the scheme of things, can at least count for something. Where, hopefully, my time and contribution to the founders can also be of some use.

John:

Yeah.

Adam:

By the time you go to the round, you’ve got much bigger VCs involved. You’ve got a corporate governance structure, which is likely to have up to 2 VCs sitting on the board at the company. The whole relationship with the founders where their outside constituencies changes at that point. Obviously, if the company’s doing well and they are raising the round by then, the valuation is getting up there anyway, so I prefer to be earlier than that for a bunch of reasons.

John:

Right. Speaking about valuation, if someone’s pre-revenue, would you ever consider investing in that?

Adam:

I have done that. I have done that, yes. Yes.

John:

Got it. Then, it’s always such a art form, trying to figure out if you’re going to put in … I’ll just make up a number. A 100,000 dollars, right? Is that worth 5% or is that worth 10%? … Is there a lot of negotiating around that, typically?

Adam:

The honest answer is, at the early stage, at the point where you’re pre-revenue, perhaps, it depends on the business.

John:

Right.

Adam:

And what the relevant metrics are, but if you’re the first convertible note or the second convertible note, or even the seed round, valuation is probably 99% part of 1% signs. It is pretty difficult for everybody. Obviously that’s one of the reasons why people use notes at the beginning of the whole process because then it the valuation discussion. Which, I think is a bad thing, and can have adverse consequences; but anyway. To your point, yes, it is somewhat of a negotiation, but on the other hand, the market; if you can say that, is where it is. At a point in time, companies at a certain stage, doing a certain thing, you know that the pre-money’s only going to be about 3 million, or 5 million, or 10 million, or whatever it is.

Some people might get into the passing of that. “Well, you know, you’re trying to raise at a note with a cap of 10 million, I think it should only be 9 million.” Generally, I don’t get into that type of dialogue too much-

John:

Right.

Adam:

Because, if the company’s going to be successful, whether it’s 9 or 10, like what the hell does it matter? You can over-extend energy on that, but as I said before, generally speaking, for stage and for whatever the format of the team is in terms of founders, and staff, if any. You can have a generally good sense based on what other stuff is going on around you.

John:

Yes. One question I get asked quite frequently by founders that I’d love to get your input on is ‘If, let’s say, you’ve already invested in Snaps, even though it wasn’t initially messaging, but now it is, does that mean you would never hear a pitch for anybody who would be in the competitive set of Snaps? Because you’re only interested in that one company, and all your resources towards that?’

Adam:

Okay, so I think different people would have different answers to that question. I’ll just give you my perspective, which is if it was a directly competitive company, I would just say to the founder, “Look, I’m invested in a directly competitive company, and I just don’t think it’d be appropriate for us to talk.”

John:

Right.

Adam:

The point being that pretty much, in every instance that I’m familiar with, early stage investors don’t sign NDAs.

John:

Nope.

Adam:

You don’t want to be in a position where you, yourself, are compromised.

John:

Right.

Adam:

Where, frankly, you yourself are doing a disservice to the company that’s come to you. I think it’s just a question of being very transparent. If the company said, “Well, like we know you’re invested in something directly competitive. We understand that. We’d still like to talk to you.” Then, obviously at that point, it’s on them.

John:

Yes.

Adam:

I would probably say, “Look, if you’re comfortable with that, you know knowing that I’m invested in that company, I talk to that company. Okay, that’s fine, but bear in mind that I am pretty unlikely to invest in you.”

John:

Got it.

Adam:

So again, “with that additional hurdle, if you want to talk, that’s fine. But, if you think that you could get money out of me, and that’s the key reason for talking-”

John:

Yes.

Adam:

“Then, maybe you can make the decision, then, to not waste your time.”

John:

Wonderful. That’s really, really helpful. That comes up … I can’t tell you how many times people ask me that question. So, to hear your perspective on it is really fantastic. Do you have any stories of a pitch that you just said, “Oh my gosh, that tagline was so memorable.” Or, “What that founder said about their creation story really won the contest,” when you were judging that you could share with us?

Adam:

One that I remember from … This would be 2012. There was a company that has changed it’s name since then, and it’s now Media, based in Florida, which had a prior existence with a prior name. I can remember seeing the founder’s pitch, and … again, it was a while ago. I can’t exactly remember why, but I’m thinking to my point before around check those high level . Is this something that could be big? Well, yes. Is this a compelling team? Yes. Is the early traction there? In that case, there wasn’t much, but yes.

I think in that case, it was an interesting one because if you look into Media, you’ll find that the founding team is actually a husband and wife. They had this vision of making online video interactive. Ultimately, for brands in particular, adding value to the relationship that you have with people online. Instead of a linear ‘click, play, and who knows what the hell I’m doing next,’ video, you have an interactive relationship through video which keeps people engaged and ultimately brings them maybe to a purchase decision.

In that case, the creation story was particularly interesting because the husband and wife team, one, had a background in video games, video game design. The other had a background in basically traditional media with TV and each of them had a different perspective on the online video world. Both of them thought that it was missing something. In that case, blew a whole number of things, hard to impact which was more important than the other. To my point before, it was definitely big. It definitely had a good team in terms of their skill set, but particularly in that case, it was because you had this uniquely compatible husband and wife team … Hopefully husband and wife are compatible in other respects, but in a business sense.

John:

Yes.

Adam:

Their different perspectives, with just like incredibly compelling insights. Not from within the industry, from thoughtful people outside of it looking in and saying, “There’s something here that needs to be fixed and done differently.”

John:

I love it. It’s complimentary skills combined with a unique perspective is what it sounds like to me.

Adam: Yeah.

John:

Nice. Well, if you wouldn’t mind, one more generic question, which is, okay, somebody’s fortunate enough to get a warm intro into you. They give you the pitch. You say, “Ah, I want to invest in this person. I want to have a second meeting.” What happens in that second meeting? Is there typically a second pitch deck? How does a founder prepare for that second meeting?

It’s like so much effort’s spent on getting in the door, and getting a second meeting. Then people go, “Okay, now what? Well how do I prepare for the second meeting? Is it a … And how many meetings will there be, typically? I know each case is different, before I get funded. Is it 6 months, or less, or?” Can you take us down that journey at all of what happens in a second meeting and what would you look for for someone to prepare for that?

Adam:

Well, I’d actually go back to the first meeting. I’m probably a pain in the ass for some people, in that complex, because particularly if you’ve sent me the deck beforehand.

John:

Yes.

Adam:

Presenting the deck to me, from my point of view, is a waste of both of our time.

John:

Right.

Adam:

Because if I’m moderately interested, I’ve at least flicked through it anyway.

John:

Right.

Adam:

I know, at a high level, what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, where you’re at, what the team is. I can do that in literally 60 seconds of flipping through the deck, and maybe a bit more than that. You talking me through the deck is like a total waste of our time, at least from my point of view. Generally, what I prefer to do, and I’m not saying this is an explicit and Machiavellian strategy, but what I prefer to do is say “Since you’re local, thanks for the deck.” Then basically just ask questions.

John:

Yes, got it.

Adam:

I think that’s a more productive use of time, personally, in the first meeting. Also, to the extent that there’s a Machiavellian element to it, it is … You can be scripted to say, for the next 15 minutes, what you want to say. I’m not deliberately trying to throw you off balance, but to the extent I focus on things or jump around a bit. It’s effectively a test as to how flexible your mind is, whether you can jump around the way that the pain in the ass investor on the other side of the table is jumping around. We get to spend time on the stuff that I’m interested in, or concerned about, or whatever. Rather than you just going “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah” for 15 minutes through the slides.

John:

Right, dialogue.

Adam:

Then, from there, the second meeting, I think with anybody, is going to be “Okay, well” … Again, maybe it’s the product demo. “Look, I need to understand how this works. Show me how this works.” It may be something different. It’s going to revolve around what seems the most pressing thing in the investor’s mind, particularly if there’s something that they’ve got a concern about. One thing that, I think personally is pretty much always in the mind of investors, is how do I get to ‘no’ as quickly as possible? The founders want that, obviously, the founders want an honest, quick ‘no,’ if that’s the answer; but the investors do as well.

John:

Yeah.

Adam:

To the extent that you focus on, I don’t know, go to market strategy because you really don’t think the founders thought it through and it’s not really compelling. Maybe you drill down on that and you establish it actually … They’ve got a much better hold on it than you thought, and it is more plausible than you thought. Then, you move on to something else.

John:

Right.

Adam:

Or, you drill down on that: they really haven’t thought it through. What they’re doing is, best you can judge, not going to be successful. Then, you can say, “Thank you for your time, and let’s move on, because I don’t have any further interest.”

John:

Got it.

Adam:

The second meeting is more focused and it can be more positive or more negative, but it depends on that investor’s approach, I think.

John:

Do you typically ask the founders if they have an exit strategy? Is that one of your questions?

Adam:

That’s a difficult one, on a difficult one. It’s an interesting one, which has a lot of interesting east coast, west coast in it. Personally, I’m of the mindset that, I think was expressed very well by, famous New York angel who has said, “We angels, early stage investors, we’re not in the investing business. We’re in the exit business.”

John:

Yes.

Adam:

The point being, as an investor in the public markets, you always have liquidity and if something goes right or wrong, you can always enter or exit. In the private company contracts, there’s mostly no liquidity until exit. If the company cannot exit, does not exit, and also does not want to exit, ultimately you’re operating a philanthropy rather than investing enterprise.

Personally, I think exit is important. Not because I want an entrepreneur to be thinking about flipping the business, but more because it is important to establish whether they actually are open at some future point to selling the business.

John:

Yeah.

Adam:

If they say, “Oh, this is my baby. I will never sell this.”

John:

Yeah.

Adam:

Then, frankly, I would say, “Well, you know, good luck to you, but you’re not having more of my money.”

John:

Yes, right. There’s no return on investment.

Adam:

“Because I sort of want it back at some point in my lifetime.”

John:

Yes, of course. Fantastic.

Adam:

That’s my perspective on that.

John:

That’s very helpful. Adam, is there any book that you recommend founders read? Either about business or just life in general.

Adam:

I’ll mention a couple. I think one that is a stand-out in terms of helping you through the investing process is Brad Feld’s “Venture Deals,” which is I think subtitled something like ‘How to be Smarter Than Your Lawyers as an Investor or Venture Capitalist.’ I think that’s a very good founder-focused walk-through of understanding VC deals and how they work. I think for anybody, that’s really very good.

I think … I mentioned Brian Cohen. I think Brian’s book, which is focused on angel investors, and is titled something like “What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know” is definitely a good way of getting … Obviously it’s very focused on Brian’s perspective, but is very well-known and established angels view of what you should be saying.

John:

Yes.

Adam:

How you should be saying it. I’m sure in that, Brian mentions the exit thing that we just talked about, so that would be one. Then, from … If I can offer 3, the third one, which is sort of a fun read and takes you through how wild a ride things can be is a book called “Startup Land,” that came out, I think at the end of last year by Mikkel Svane, and I’m not pronouncing his name right. He’s the founder of ZenDesk. I forget the country, I think he’s from Denmark. Anyway, he started off in Denmark, wherever it was, had to work his way through getting investors, when he started in a location where nobody knows what venture capital is, and ends up ultimately getting to the point where his company is listed publicly in the US.

John:

Wow.

Adam:

That’s quite a sort of fun ride of his-

John:

I’ll say.

Adam:

Entrepreneurial journey, which is short and fun to read.

John:

Those are great. Thank you, so much. Adam, how can people follow you on social media? What’s your Twitter and all that good stuff?

Adam:

None of the above is particularly creative, so I’m @AdamQuinton. You can follow me there. I’m fairly active on Twitter, likewise on LinkedIn. Google it and you shall find.

John:

Fantastic. Well, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for sharing all of your insights into what you look for when you hear a pitch. I can see why you’re one of the VCs making waves, and one of the top influencers and angels that people need to know. Thanks for letting us get to know you a little bit better, not only as an investor but as a person.

Adam:

Thank you for your time, John. I’ve really enjoyed it, and hope to talk soon.

John:

Sounds great.

Thanks for listening to “The Successful Pitch” podcast. If you like the show, please go to iTunes and write a review, and encourage your friends to write reviews, too. It really helps get the word out.

People say that the longest distance is between someone’s mouth and their wallet. People can tell you they’re going to invest, but when it comes time to write the check, they don’t do it. How do you get people to say “Yes,” and then follow through? Visualize yourself on the left side of a riverbank. You have to cross the river, and on the other side of the river is where the funding happens. First you make up your idea, then you make it real, then you make it reoccur.

Once you start dipping your toe into the water to get to funding, that’s where I can help. I get you across that river faster than you would on your own, with a lot less frustration than you will get when you hear a bunch of “No’s,” and you don’t know why. If you want some help getting funded faster, with less frustration, go to my free funding webinar, SellingSecretsforFunding.com/Webinar, sign up, and get in-depth information on how you can get funded fast. Thanks.

TSP055 | Nihal Mehta – Transcription
TSP053 | Claudia Iannazzo – Transcription
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