It’s been slightly over a year since I wrote the following post about not wanting to see product demos and I am somewhat amazed how controversial it was. But with a year of extra data I have a few new insights:
(1) Some people are personally offended that I don’t want to see their product demo. Somewhat akin to not wanting to see pictures of the grand kids. I understand that there is such pride in ownership, but recognize WHY I don’t want to see your demo, which is the next point.
(2) I ASSUME 100% that your product kicks ass. I assume that it is indeed the best in the category. That seems like a crazy assumption, but it quickly gets us past features and to your thinking as to WHY you will win. HOW you will win. What’ s the go-to-market, what’s working and what’s not. Quite frankly most companies win or lose on this part of the discussion not the latest UI innovation.
(3) Since you have already won the argument that you have the best product (in my mind), engaging in a further discussion on this topic can not possibly be of any benefit. Are you shooting for 110%?
One more related insight is around your pitch deck. Some people really don’t want to send it in advance. I find this puzzling – wouldn’t you want your audience to be familiar with the material in advance? I promise you I will read it in detail and the meeting will be a much more useful way to spend your time.
I find it a huge red flag when the CEO doesn’t want to send the deck before the meeting. It sort of says to me that there is something that is being hidden. Or that only with the voice over it will make any sense. Don’t get me wrong, I WANT TO MEET YOU. I want to learn about why you elected to change your life and start this company etc. But having it all be a surprise vs. allowing me to prepare seems like a bad idea.
I welcome your comments. Your demos, not so much…!
— (ORIGINAL POST BELOW) —
Being in the VC game now and not a start-up CEO, I am asked to speak at events frequently. If you have seen me speak you will know that I have two really big pet peeves.
(1) No, I don’t want to see your demo. I really want to know:
– Who you are?
– Why you decided to dedicate your life to this crazy new venture?
– Who else is involved?
– How much money have you raised, and how much more do you need?
– How big can this be?
ONCE I have answers to that and understand what you are all about, then I might want to see the demo.
I don’t understand how the eco-system has gone to this approach of: “I don’t need slides, I can just do a demo, because the product is all that matters.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Early stage investing is all about the people and big markets.
(2) Related: Please don’t tell me that raising money is a waste of time.
I hear variants of the following all the time:
“I need to get back to the office to work on new product features.”
“Raising money is slowing the down the business and its a waste of my time”
“Raising money is taking my eye off the ball”
You are the CEO and therefore one of the most important parts of your job is ensuring that the company has enough runway to not go bust. That is just as important as any other task you have. If you don’t feel that way, then perhaps you should be the VP of Product and a CEO who cares about this should be raising the money?
Please recognize, I am not insulted by the fact that you thinking raising money is a waste of your time – i.e. that my ego is bruised and you don’t respect me or my profession. I don’t care about that. But what I do care about, going back to point (1) is that you have identified yourself as a person that is perhaps not in this for the right reasons!