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Monday, July 25, 2011

Dumb Lies and Futile Misdemeanors | VENTURE FINANCE – REALITY VS. RUMOR

Dick Brown
Venture Finance - Reality vs. Rumors with Dick Brown

Over the last three or four weeks I’ve reviewed more Executive Summaries (ES) and Business Plans (BP) for Clients that want to use our Entrepreneur’s Edge service at my company, American World (

I keep running into the same problems and thought it might help some of my entrepreneurs that were trying to raise money. First of all, the fund-raising documents are targeted at VC’s and Merchant Banks, a sophisticated, jaundiced crowd that see even more BP’s than I do.


Nowhere in the average ES or BP does the entrepreneur bother to explain how much money an investor can make in this venture.

Further, I’m always amazed when I ask the BP author why anyone might consider writing a check to their company. I get answers ranging from total silence to “it’s such a great product” to “we really need the money” to “it’s an ideal extension for Facebook and everyone knows how successful they’ve been”.

There’s only one reason that anyone not directly related to you might invest: “To Make Money (and preferably a ton of it). ROI and profits are everything!!”

If you don’t know this and avoid banging away at the potential ROI throughout your documents, you might as well stop work and instead begin writing “a great, successful book” and try competing with the Dan Brown’s, Stephen King’s and Hemingway’s of our world.

Classiest: “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, on October 5, 1877 in the Bear Paw Mountains of the Montana Territory.

Most Stupid: “I don’t know, what do you think is fair?” – 95% of all entrepreneurs when asked by a VC what percentage of their venture are they willing to give up.

Not only is this about the dumbest response possible, but even worse - rarely do entrepreneurs prepare realistic financial projections that also contain ownership percentages along with projected profits. Then, they act hurt and accuse the VC’s of avarice when the VC answers: “90% for me!”, but have empty pockets for ammunition to shoot back.

There are other glaring errors that repeat themselves in mind-numbing predictability.

1. We Don’t Really Need All This Capital - History shows that 90% of the time, first year sales and gross margin do not reach the projected expectations. Under-capitalization is the single largest reason that companies fail. Investors know this and expect that the funded entrepreneurs will return with their tails between their legs, seeking more money (and yielding the rest of the ownership pie for the investors.) When you do your pro formas and forecasts, try to be very realistic, extremely conservative, and lay aside a large, safety reserve.

2. “We Don’t Have Any Competitors!” – I will bet anyone “serious money” that uses this phrase that I can find at least 5-10 competitors in less than 30 minutes, just using Google. On the rare occasion that I can’t, the venture has invented a totally useless, over-priced product that nobody living outside an institution will ever buy.

3. Variation: “Microsoft, Google and Facebook can’t compete with us because they’re too big and slow-moving!” Try making a list of all the companies Bill Gates has put out of business.

4. “If We Get Only 1% of the Market, We’ll Be Wildly Successful.” – There’s a marketing strategy that says to be successful, you have to own a leadership position in the market (at least in some specific segment). You’re not going to get there at 1% and most professional investors want to back the leaders, not the also-rans … that exist on the dregs and with low margins. Further, the big competitors have a tendency to take nearly all the market and then leave all the “crazies” and marginal operators very slim pickings.

Looking at one “now-mature” business that was once a start-up market - there were over 1,800 automobile manufacturers in the United States from 1896 to 1930. Does anyone remember Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Valiant, Geo, Studebaker, Kaiser or “the biggies” such as Cord, Excalibur, Henry J, MG and De Lorean?

5. “We’re demonstrated our product to John Hancock Life Insurance, DOD, MGM, Boeing and Texas Instruments.” All gave us rave reviews and we expect purchase orders shortly.

“Come on, kid: How many have you sold, delivered and been paid for?”

6. “I Can Sell It Cheaper” - The blood of any investor runs cold upon hearing this strategy. Selling anything cheaper means less gross margin. Smaller margins mean smaller profits and potential losses … this is not the basis for a good business investment.

7. Low Barrier-to-Entry Businesses - Sub sandwiches, bagels, boutique coffee and quick oil-change shops are good examples of hot businesses that were once relatively cheap to enter. Often these are new concepts or franchises that burst onto the scene and explode. Any time that the visibility of a new kind of business is high and the barriers-to-entry are low, the growth rate of the supply can quickly exceed the growth rate of demand. Ultimately this means that price-cutting and discounting become the norm. The failure rate soars. Ask me about the “Computer retail business”.

When you’re trying to raise money, you’ve begun a quest that is difficult and frustrating. Only a complete idiot would believe that they can succeed without a slick, professional effort. Complementing this, do not mimic the mistakes of your predecessor capital seekers. Distinguish yourself by being different and never repeating losing strategies. Be “the brightest and the best” by acting that way. Good Luck!!

Dick’s consulting company is American World (AW). His web site is You can reach him at or call at 843-237-9802.

Now, AW has introduced the “Entrepreneurs’ Edge” (EE) - a complete service for entrepreneurs that seek funding. EE begins by providing a real-world "Investor's Review" of your Executive Summary and Business Plan followed by the creation of an appropriate "Financing Strategy". Next, AW distributes "your story" with a unique, eye-catching introduction to 800+ of our world-wide list of qualified investors. AW will then continue to work with you to close your financing.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions, send them along. Contact Dick at American World, You’ll get an answer.

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For more information, please visit Dick's TNNWC Bio.

For complete tactical and strategic business planning, marketing, media, lead-generation, technological and capital resources, scalable solutions and tools to support every entrepreneurial start-up, young enterprise, small- to medium-sized business and emerging high-growth company, talk to the Advisors and Experts at TNNWC Group, LLC. We are a collaborative entrepreneurial, creative organization offering you hands-on, personalized assistance in every aspect of achieving your monetization, profitability and financial sustainability objectives, domestically and globally. We don’t just “coach” you or offer you pre-packaged, push-button solutions – we listen to you, analyze your exact needs, and work within your scale of operations and your budget to: (1) create your optimal tool kit , and (2) work as your partner (with our sleeves rolled up) to implement your plan by supporting you in the most efficient and productive use of every tool. Visit our website, which is located at To receive your Free Subscription to our critically- acclaimed business newsletters, publications, information bulletins and alerts, simply join us as a Member. Two of our most widely-read publications include The National Networker (TNNWC) Weekly Newsletter, and The BLUE TUESDAY Report. Every Subscriber automatically receives Free Membership. Membership will grant you access to our unique suite of business planning, business-building, business promotion, business cost-reduction, business capitalization and strategic planning services, as well as entry to our expert management consulting services. These benefits are unequalled anywhere. Just go to our home page, and click on the “JOIN US” button. Find out about what WE can do for YOUR growing enterprise -- we are recognized advocates, champions, thought-leaders, writers and keynote speakers on such timely subjects as social networking and relationship-building, traffic -building, social media buzz, branding, developing international trading and joint venture relationships -- and structuring and obtaining alternative forms of capitalization. We are on top of every significant business, regulatory, technological, social and consumer trend worldwide. At TNNWC, we have a specific orientation: We Solve Problems. We Help Our Clients To Achieve Their Goals And Objectives. Prosperity. Peace. Collaboration. Sustainable Solutions For Continuous Growth™. Subscribe. Join Us. Visit Us. You can access our free supplemental RSS FEED by clicking *HERE*

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