Okay...that may be a *bit* of a stretch, but let me tell you, this shit is about to get real. Real exciting, that is. Someday I will tell the whole story and give all sorts of tips and words of wisdom to other people following the path of launching their startup and building a dream, but for now I'm in the middle of it, so I'll just tell you where I'm at. Raising money to grow a startup is different than anything I've ever done...and probably different than anything most people have ever done. It requires mustering a skill I've never mustered before: asking for stuff.
That's pretty much it. I've heard that in sales, you have to hear 99 no's before you get to a yes. That, to me, sounded like the most painful process in the universe and something I mentally noted that I wouldn't attempt in a million years. I've heard folklore about people who are actually *good* at this sort of thing: people that are good at asking and getting rejected (repeatedly), then persisting without blinking an eye. I thought they were made up or some sorts of emotionless freaks of nature I'd never want to encounter. If ever I imagined myself being forced to play this role, I'd instantly go into anxiety attack mode. Even the thought of it drove me to drink. I imagined that repeatedly gouging my eyeballs with a fork would be more fun.
But a funny thing happened when it was my dream and vision that was/is at stake. I mustered. I rallied. I stopped worrying about being rejected and I started thinking about learning from every rejection...or even to stop thinking of them as rejections at all, but instead, poor fits or great opportunities for feedback. Instead of rocking my foundation and calling my ideas into doubt, these rejections made my conviction even stronger. Not to mention that, just like anything, it gets easier. The first 'no's sting. They do. But then you learn to take them in stride. Next thing you know, you get better at realizing when to walk away and when to go deeper. I can tell early on now when the investor/entrepreneur relationship won't work. I've actually closed my laptop mid-presentation, thanked the person and walked away. Sure, it's practice, but I'd rather be spending that energy on convincing the right investor than practicing on the wrong one.
So here we are in a tight spot. Bills outstanding. Employees who will need to be paid. My own bank account teetering on double digits. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel! As I stated in previous posts, I've knocked on a few doors over the past months and, for a while, was feeling a bit frustrated. But it only takes one door to open and several others will follow. And, darnit, that door is opening (and what an exciting, awesome door it is...the Angel we are talking with is someone I admire a great deal...a dream!)!
But it's not over until the fat lady sings...or...erm...the fat check is deposited! And, well, there is still loads of work to do, people to talk with, terms to negotiate, improvements to make to the product, etc. And at any moment, things could fall apart into a heap of bits that I'll need to sweep up and deposit into my 'Lessons Learned' basket, shake myself off and try again. But no matter what happens, I will. If I have to sell everything I own, move in with my cofounder (Hey Cass!), spend evenings and weekends talking dirty on a 1-800 number...I'll do it. I need to. I believe in this so fundamentally, it's nuts.
And in the meantime, we have done a temporary restructuring of our Friends and Family convertible debt round from mid-2010 and are opening up a last minute offer to Friends wanting to get in last minute. Juss sayin'
I can't wait to do the post-mortem on this round. I can't wait for the day that I exhale a bit. It won't be the last challenge and it certainly won't be the biggest challenge, but I know I'll relish in the victorious end of this leg of Shwowp's journey and the incredible amount of personal growth I've experienced as part of it.
Thank you so much for continuing to support me...in every way, shape and form! This *is* actually hella fun. ;)