Humble apology to my fellow friends at the meeting: I felt I was not contributing to the discussion mainly because I am a village boy (kampung kia) from the jungles of Lunas, Kedah. 🙂 Here’s my take on the meeting at Orchard Parade Hotel 17th floor, VIP lounge on 23rd August 2018.
What I learnt from a S$238 2 hour meeting with royalty from a Corporate Institutional Investor and a Corporate Communication guru?
Being unqualified was humbling. I wasn’t on the same page academically and experience wise with these fellas.
Now seeing the gap between me and that million dollar series-A funding “dream” is frightening. The other two participants had products – one a 2nd hand luxury items broker and the other did work with multiple giant banks.
While the man of the street laments the crumbling economies whether in Malaysia or Singapore, I observed that these well connected, well read individuals seem to be rather optimistic and upbeat about the emerging market. The white rajahs seem keen to repeat history seeing opportunity in Cambodia, Myanmar and Bangladesh – what they call emerging markets.
First round of financing in most cases, are mainly from friends, family and angel investors (and fools) – wealthy high net worth individuals. Networking is the essence of success or failure.
Investors in Asia, however, tend to want to come into a startup at it’s mature stage, even though the returns are lower. They want to be able to tell their friends “Oh, I have invested in Spotify” and not a startup in the infancy stage with its associated high risks.
Big part of the meeting was discussing the ups and downs of a Powerpoint presentation while pitching. Micheal, the luxury items dealer, crafted a hip, modern deck full of full-screen photography with key points only. We all agree that a wordy presentation often lead the presenter to read just from the slide; or worst still: “Let me explain points 1 and 2, and for 3 to 10 you can read it yourself”. That would be the worst type of presentation.
The first impression is everything. Start with a story, or your higher calling as to why you’re doing what you’re doing. Within 3-5 minutes the investor has already made up his mind. Time is really precious. In just 5 minutes, he could reply 3 e-mails, respond to an office decision matter, and take a quick coffee and toilet break. To allocate 1 hour of time just to listen to your proposal, which he is not interested in anyway is a huge investment of time.
Sometimes, investors put money in your idea just because they like you.
One lesson I’ll put into practice is to build rapport and do it eloquently. It will get you far. As I move into sales, I hope these lessons and once a lifetime experience today will guide me in closing deals and building trust.