The expression “no man’s land” became more widely used during World War One to describe the dangerous, deserted, destitute, quiet war zone area between two opposing forces’ trenches. You wanted to avoid “no man’s land”; and if you found yourself there, you HAD to find your way out. It was (and still is) one of history’s most dangerous states of limbo.
If you have ever talked to a potential investor, you’ve most likely heard them use the term: “no man’s land”. Or – if they don’t actually use that phrase in some many words – they’ll allude to it.
- “You are asking for too much capital for angels, and not enough from VCs/PE groups.”
- “Your company is more med-tech, and we only invest in bio-tech.”
- “You are past early stage, and we invest exclusively in early stage.”
You are in no man’s land.
Although an investor’s use of or allusion to this expression is, by no means, equal to the time and place in which this expression became famous, it aptly refers back to the feeling of being in what you might think or feel is lost or alone between safety and vulnerability.
Over (insert number) of years, I have raised approximately $75 million; The checks ranged in dollar amount from the smallest check ($10,000 for my first company) to a $20+ million check more recently.
Regardless of the security or contentment or success each check provided, guess what – it was still almost all in no man’s .
Because it doesn’t matter if this is your first check or fourth check; it doesn’t matter if you have a resume full of industry-appropriate experience or no education or experience.
You are in no man’s land. There are no rules. There’s no guidebook. There’s no right way to do all this. It’s wide open territory.
As daunting as that may be, you can use that to your advantage.
Forget trying to fit into an investor’s box or what you ‘think’ he or she is looking for; what you ‘think’ he or she wants to see from you. Use your time and energy to fight no man’s land, and focus on your product or service. Make it great. Make it better than others.
Get your Unfair Advantage, and here is why: Figuring out how to cross “no man’s land” safely doesn’t get you funded. Great ideas get funded.
There is no such thing as no man’s land when people are falling over themselves to be a part of your movement. If you are doing something great, they bend their rules. They invest more or less than their “mandate” and can justify the investment quite quickly. If you are hearing excuse after excuse from a potential investor, then it’s one of two things:
- You aren’t articulating how great it is just yet.
- It just isn’t that great…yet.
Stop preparing for no man’s land. Do something great. It’ll get funded.
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Yours in startups,
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