Jordan Lloyd Bookey, co-founder and “Chief Mom” for Zoobean, recently attended a Founder Hangout with tech superstar Sukhinder Singh Cassidy of JOYUS, the online shopping website that uses the power of video to help visitors discover new apparel, beauty, and lifestyle products. After securing $20 million of funding for JOYUS, Singh Cassidy has the experience and drive that fledgling entrepreneurs crave and appreciate.
Here are three keynotes that Lloyd Bookey highlighted from her Founder Hangout with Singh Cassidy:
Written by Jordan Lloyd Bookey for Women 2.0
Don’t Pitch Before You Pitch
Singh-Cassidy sipped on a cup of java as we talked, but she put it down to remind us not to pitch over coffee! By taking meetings with a potential angel, or especially a potential VC firm, you’re missing a future opportunity. She said something along the lines of:
So you go to just ‘have coffee’ with a potential investor. They ask you about your metrics. They ask you about your vision. You tell them all kinds of information. You leave coffee thinking, ‘that went pretty well.’ And then what?
It’s like dating. First, the investor isn’t a part of a process that you are setting up, so there is no competitive pressure that you can create with coffee. And second, you have now given up a ton of information that would normally be reserved for a formal pitch in a more formal process. Instead, if you must go out for coffee (!), then change the paradigm. Ask the investor about his/her thesis on the future of your market and other information that ensures you are gathering information from them.
Frame Your Own Metrics
When we were getting ready to soft launch Zoobean, an adviser to us said, “Once you launch, investors are going to want to know how many books you’ve sold. They won’t care about anything else.” Or, as Singh Cassidy put it, the minute you launch, people judge you on metrics, not your vision.
That is true, but she also said that you have the power to frame the metrics that are important to consider. Determine what really matters for your company: top line revenue, traffic, conversion rate, or something else altogether. And when an investor asks you, “Tell me about X,” you can reframe with, “We’re tracking Y, and here is why it matters.” Control the conversation, while also being honest about the metrics that are truly critical for your business.
After someone asked her about how she exudes so much confidence, she addressed the question as one related to gender, and said something along the lines of:
They’re [investors] looking for the investment with the best return. But they’re used to seeing it in a certain package.
The ‘package’ usually being a young guy in a t-shirt (and maybe hipster glasses for good measure).
Her advice to us was that intensity is the equivalent of salesmanship -make sure people know that you will keep at this, day and night, until you are successful. And the best way to demonstrate intensity is to come from a place of deep, deep knowledge of your business and market. If you can do this, then you will show that the package might not be what is typically expected, but you are immensely investable.
We’re three hangouts in with the initial class of Founder Hangouts, and each one has delivered with lessons that directly and immediately impact the work I’m doing. Getting to spend 2 hours with folks like Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, with an open forum, is an absolute gift. I’m anxious for our next few sessions, and hope they will all continue to be as directly applicable to our work with Zoobean as these first three.
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