“No” Means “Not Yet”
When a startup sends us their pitch deck, even if we’re not interested, we always write back and give feedback. Only about one in ten respond to that feedback. Fundraising isn’t a yes/no process. It’s a process of iterations and relationship development, which means that nine out of ten startups are walking off the field after the first inning.
The best founders we work with value what’s right over who’s right, and excel at building long-term relationships. They succeed because they keep getting better. When you tell them “no” they immediately come back with “Okay, thank you. How do you think we can improve?”
One Startup in particular that stands out first approached us with a business model similar to Classpass. Our team at Hyperspace is pretty athletic so we were curious, but we saw some problems in the business model and decided to pass. The founders thanked us for our time and offered to take us to lunch to talk about entrepreneurship and learn from our experiences. Like all humans we love free food, so we said yes and had a great conversation. Several months later the CEO emailed us an updated business model. They had run into the problems we’d originally been concerned about, regrouped and pivoted, and were now on a promising trajectory. This caught our attention immediately, because it showed us that this team was resilient, pragmatic, and treated people well even when there was no self interested reason to do so. That’s the kind of team we like to work with and invest in.
You get a lot of “no’s” when you’re fundraising, if you even hear back at all. It can be discouraging. Our advice is that when someone says “no,” what you should hear is “not yet.” Treat it as the start of the conversation, not the end. Ask how you can improve, and come back to them when you’re ready.
Ready to pitch us? Send your deck to: firstname.lastname@example.org