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Complicated storytelling


This is true for many investment banks. And people pay for complexity.


 

But it's an odd world:


  • Founders chasing publicity on social media, focusing on selling stories rather than selling products

  • Companies (especially funds) announcing (and celebrating) an investment or acquisition in a business, almost sounding like: “Look, we bought these guys” or “Hey I pulled that off, can you?

  • Entrepreneurs focusing too much on beautifying powerpoint slide decks and looking for investors instead of devoting more resources towards building a real product and looking for customers.

 

Some people spend too much time going around begging angel investors and VC funds for money to build their business. I once told a friend:

Raising capital is equivalent to "cash flow from financing". Why don't you focus more on developing "cash flow from operations?".

The same applies to private fund raising: If you have to wait to bring in OPM (other people's money) before kickstarting your fund, maybe you really shouldn't be in the PE/VC business.


The end result is the same: solving for that funding gap.


You are much better off spending your time and resources looking for customers (who are by the way, also non-dilutive to shareholding) rather than chasing after beauty pageants and roadshows month after month trying to bring in investors.

 

I think a big problem nowadays is that many of us over-relate to what we read in social media.


We constantly see how different forms of a Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk manifest themselves as visionaries of businesses i.e. people who make daring and sometimes cavalier remarks about their entrepreneurial ambitions, making headlines through that process. And what typically comes a few days later, a large venture capital or private equity firm, a middle eastern sovereign fund, or some other titan of an investor with deep pockets take a minority stake in the company. The narrative is thus complete.

And weirdly for a lot of people, the brain puts one and one together concluding: "Go big, or go home" or "If I passionately try hard enough, someone will acquire us some day", or "some big company will buy us out".


It's easy to get caught up with the hype and optimism. After all, there are many precedents of successful tech founders who started from humble beginnings.


While it is true that if you don't die trying, you won't make it, too many folks forget that the most important part of doing any business is reeling in customers, not telling stories to investors (but what do I know, right?)


I also know a handful of folks who place too much emphasis on pursuing egotistic corporate titles, lamenting on why they aren't promoted or not given nice-sounding C-suite positions. Those who crave the adulation of social media and in the process, overcompensate themselves have no chivalry.


They are all doing it backwards. Real business is in working the P&L, not in fluffy words and lofty titles.


There is no point in calling yourself Chairman, CEO, CFO, CIO or any permutation of a CxO, Head of Business Development or Head of Investments if you have a lousy report card to show for. It's useless to garner a thousand followers if you can’t successfully monetise your product.


You can call yourself anything you want really, but at the end of day if your designation doesn't get the job done and bring home the bacon, then what is the point?

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