Answering Tough Investor Questions
If you're a founder and entrepreneur, I bet that an investors ask you:
"How are you gonna monetize?"
"How are you gonna acquire customers?"
If you've ever been asked those and all of a sudden you've been worried about how to answer, I'm going to tell you exactly how today.
I'm Robbie. I'm a venture partner in the venture capital world, former trial lawyer, and also someone who works with founders to help them raise $575 million over the last two years.
Now, I get told this all the time by the founders that I work with.
"How do I answer these tough questions?"
"I don't have a monetization plan yet."
"I don't know."
There's a strategy when it comes to answering questions. That is a different approach. So instead of going direct at the question, go around it and you reframe that idea, use an example.
Q - "How are you gonna monetize your business?"
A - "You know, when we think about monetization, what we realize is as we grow and we get tens of thousands of users on our platform, Forms. One of the nice things that we're already seeing with our early users is they're telling us what they're interested in, and so what we're doing as a monetization strategy is building our user base and listening to them so that we can give them exactly what they want, when they want it monetization."
It's just a switch that we can turn on. Now, what you'll see right there is that I never really answered the question right. I didn't say that we're gonna monetize it by subscription. I didn't say we're gonna monetize it by ads. I just painted the picture of monetization's. Not really an issue because once we get all these users, they're going to tell us exactly what they want to pay for.
There's a great example of this in the movie The Social Network when Eduardo and Mark are having dinner with Sean Parker. Sean is talking to them and Eduardo wants to say "hey, don't you think we should be monetizing Facebook right now? We should be monetizing and having ads."
And Mark isn't really on board with that, right? And listen to what Sean Parker has to say about monetization.
"The Facebook is cool. That's what it's got going for you. You don't wanna ruin it with ads because ads aren't cool. Exactly. It's like you're throwing the greatest party on campus and someone's saying it's gotta be over by 11."
That's exactly right.
You don't even know what the thing is yet, exactly how big it can get, how far it can go. This is no time to take your chips down. He was so on point that you don't monetize. Because the thing that Facebook had in those early days was that they were cool and the more people they could get on their platform thinking that it was cool and feeling that it was cool, the greater the leverage they would have over time.
That's what ultimately led to Facebook having the most valuable advertising platform in the world. And this is the same type of answer that you might want to do. You're still answering it, but you're doing it by painting the picture of the future. Instead of just saying "well, we're gonna do step one and step two and step three and step four and step five and step six..."
When in reality the investor's going to say, "I don't think this is gonna work."
So if you give an answer, a direct answer, it's going to fall flat. This is why it's so important to stay at that 30,000 foot level to keep hammering.
Vision future, how this grows, why it's going to be so big, and what that opportunity looks like once you've achieved that.
Chris Soka himself has talked about this with the Instagram founders. It was inevitable that they were gonna have millions of users, even though they didn't have them at the time. And it didn't matter what their monetization strategy was because Chris knew that with millions of users on the platform, it was going to be a cash cow.
And that's what you want to do when you're asked a tough question.
You've got to think about, "how do I answer this in an indirect way, but still answer the question?"
That's what you want to achieve. Tough questions are going to come.
If you're raising capital, I can guarantee you're going to get asked all of the questions that you don't want to answer. But if you put in the time ahead to prepare and plan and really strategize.
Your answer creates more conviction. That's the difference between a failed fundraise and a successful fundraise. So keep pushing. Use this strategy to answer the tough question.
At the end of the day, what you're going to find is investors getting excited who want to back you, and ultimately who write that check so you can go and build the company of your dreams for an even deeper dive.
Check out this post right here. It's going to really help you understand exactly what we talked about in this post.
A former trial lawyer and prosecutor in Dallas, TX, Robbie trains founders to become world-class storytellers and venture capital fundraisers.
In barely two years, he's helped founders raise $575,000,000 of venture capital