“Si quieres hacer reír a Dios, cuentale tus planes.”
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
When we are about to launch a new startup, there are always assumptions, we detect a problem or a necessity, we find a new or a better way to address them and we then venture into the creation of a solution, a product.
When the idea is somehow mature, probably you will build a pitch deck (btw, take a look at the Airbnb deck for inspiration), you will probably need money to execute your idea so you will be most likely pitching to a VC soon enough. (If you wonder what is a VC or the different types and categories of VCs, please check my previous post Cuando fuiste martillo no tuviste clemencia, ahora que eres yunque, ten paciencia, you will find some useful information there) – sorry for so many distractions.
Chances are that if you give a great pitch, you will get your VC’s attention for a few minutes (normally VCs here in the Valley are really respectful of the time they give you so most likely you will have their full attention, even though there are some exceptions to this rule).
We all expect to have a meeting that would go like this: you pitch → you get them super excited → they write you a check. Probabilistically speaking, your meeting will not go as expected, so don’t take it hard on yourself. Actually, every meeting with a VC is a super opportunity to hear some feedback (positive feedback is good, negative feedback is even better), keep your eyes and ears open, observe the body language, but most importantly LISTEN.
I have a dear friend who has this picture on his MacBook as a wallpaper. He saw me staring at his computer and asked me: “Did you see this movie?”, – yes – I replied. “do you know what this movie is about?” he asked again. I thought it was an awkward question since 30 seconds ago I told him that I did see it, but in honor of courtesy I started explaining that it was this guy, who by accident ends up living inside of a computer, where the programs are alive…and he suddenly stopped me. “That’s the plot of the movie, I asked you if you knew what this movie is about.” I think I had a stupid expression on my face, because he laughed and said: “this movie as about a man who fell in love with his idea so bad, he ended up trapped inside it. I keep this picture as my wallpaper so I can be reminded every day.”
Good meetings with VCs are great because they might get you funded, bad meetings are excellent because they will give you an opportunity to challenge your thinking and plans (these guys hear a lot of pitches every day, and normally they are very smart people, some exceptions to the rule apply of course). Probably if you have a new disruptive idea, one of their first questions will be: “why has anyone not done this before?” and please don’t answer “Because I’m super smart” don’t give too much credit to yourself, assume that there are other entrepreneurs smarter than you, there might be a reason, look for the correct answer. If in a VC pitch you end up defending yourself, you are probably doing something wrong.
A startup is an evolutionary process. Your idea will mature with time and you have to let yourself go and evolve with it. Gabriel does an amazing job explaining this process on his post “Nothing is written in stone.”
One of my biggest discoveries is that creating a startup is no different than conducting one of those experiments we used to in our chemistry lessons when at high school. You set the variables, you document them, you test it and observe the results. If you got what you were looking for, you repeat it to guarantee that it was not an act of luck. If you didn’t, you change the variables and retry the experiment.
Avikk is an expert on this process so if you are interested in this subject I encourage you read his posts about it. Try and fail, try and fail (and fail fast!) is the recipe of a successful startup.
In conclusion, I would like to dedicate this post to the late Victor Diaz Ortiz, in our multiple discussions, he always used to say, “Let’s plan for it, but we need to have the flexibility to adapt because: si quieres hacer reír a Dios, cuéntale tus planes.”