Several years ago, I found myself representing an Israeli startup in a meeting with an investor in the United States. The meeting took place at the New York World Trade Center, on the 50th floor, with an investor who had a reputation for being tough but fair. As I pitched the startup, I could sense that the investor was not impressed. He kept a serious expression on his face and when I asked him if he had any feedback, he replied, "I can tell you what I really think, but are you sure you want to hear it?" I nodded, eager for any constructive criticism that could help improve the startup.
The investor did not hold back. He told me that the company seemed like fiction and that based on his analysts' assessment, much of the information shared was inconsistent or incorrect. He pointed out that the data shared was not reliable, the LinkedIn profiles of the founders were not updated and they were not connected to the company's narrative. He went on and on, highlighting every detail that did not add up
At first, my ego jumped in: "How dare he! The company is valid and respected!" But after a split second, I felt embarrassed, as he was so right. It wasn't clear from their materials how successful the company is. As the meeting went on, I realized that this meeting was a gift. It was a valuable learning experience that taught me many lessons that I took with me for my future work with startups.
The most important lesson that I learned was that your personal and startup brand can get you in or out of the deal flow without one even knowing why. From that day on, I made a commitment to always pay attention to personal and startup branding, as a brand can make or break a deal.
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By Lirone Glikman