App development · Apps

I keep hearing how investors invest in people first, ideas second. But if my resume is limited, how can I sell myself?

Nik White Founder of TalentMob - a social talent show in your hands

Last updated on February 26th, 2017

I think I have the drive and determination (been building out this same idea for 2.5 years now), the discipline, and sometimes even the smarts. And for an old dog, I'm always open to learning new tricks. But after 47 years, I haven't built up much of an entrepreneurial resume. And zero experience building an app, let alone a business (aside from a few Startup Weekends). How can I convince investors to invest in me?

Edit 2/26/17: Greatly appreciate the answers! The more brutally honest, the better! Not sure if the best way to respond to the answers is by editing my question or answering my answer. So will edit my question until told otherwise (or I run out of characters)!

"What are you asking investors to invest in? Is your business ready for funding?"

Unfortunately, that's part of the catch-22 I'm in. I've gone as far as my skills would allow, which is designing and market testing the prototype I created. I'm not a developer and have struggled to get developers on board until there's funding. I've spent all I can afford outsourcing development of 50% of the MVP and can't afford to pay any more at this time.

The market testing has gone better than expected with the prototype design (53% of 18-21 year old testers saying that would definitely use it. And yes, I understand this data is semi-meaningless until they actually become users). But the MVP has not been fully developed yet to put it on the app stores to test in the real world. So there are no current paying customers, traction, or ROI, aside from about 30 beta testers on standby I've accumulated through market testing.

"As you have been building your idea have you built a team?"

I currently have a (seemingly) solid developer who is willing to work for equity/pay, 50/50. But it's the latter 50 that I'm struggling with, and why I need funding.

"A few easy reads like "Zero to One", "The Orange Revolution" and "The Lean Startup" offer diverse opinions."

Read 2 of those (along with "The Hard Thing About Hard Things," "The Art of Startup Fundraising," "The Launch Pad - Inside Y Combinator," "Think And Grow Rich," and a few related others). Will look into the Orange one. Thanks!

Joe Albano, PhD Using the business of entrepreneurialism to turn ideas into products and products into sustainable businesses.

February 26th, 2017

Here are a few thoughts to get you started:

  • What are you asking investors to invest in? Is your business ready for funding? Yes. investors invest in people - but they also invest in businesses that are capable of producing a return on their investment (ROI). Do you have one yet?
  • You mentioned that you have been working on the same idea for 2.5 years. Do you have a validated business model? Do you have paying customers? Once again tenacity is good - but the ultimate measure of success is ROI.
  • As you have been building your idea have you built a team? In general, investors invest in people - not person. One (simple) model is that every startup needs three personalities: the hipster, the hacker, and the hussler. All three personalities almost never exist in a single individual.

Rogue Startup

February 26th, 2017

Focus on demonstrating your leadership skills. Also -- execution. I would article how you executed and delivered at your former positions.

JC Cooper --

February 26th, 2017

Nik, they will not be investing in you first. They probably will not be investing in your idea either. You will need to hook-or-crook your way to MVP and demonstrate traction. There are countless ways to get to that point, but hustle is the first order of business. On your way to becoming presentable, there is a free library the size of Jupiter to help you with investor-speak, biz plans etc. A few easy reads like "Zero to One", "The Orange Revolution" and "The Lean Startup" offer diverse opinions. But first, I suggest reading any of the many titles that sound like "No one cares about your stupid little startup". Tough love, but invaluable. Sent from a phone booth.

Shel Horowitz I help organizations thrive by building social transformation into your products, your services, and your marketing

February 26th, 2017

Nik, I see several things in your profile that would make for an exciting and interest-generating resume. I've been writing resumes as part of my living since 1977. I normally charge $50 to critique one, but I will give you a quick review at no charge. I've sent you my email via private message--please send as Word or PDF attachment with subject line: You Promised A Review on CoFounderLab.

And yes, obviously, I'm hoping that my review will prompt you to hire me for a proper resume--but I will put zero pressure on you. You'll either contact me to set that up or you won't, and no hard feelings either way. I charge $195 for up to two hours of consulting, $100/hour if it goes longer (I keep my resume prices very affordable so that the teachers, nurses, etc. in my community don't see price as a barrier).

Also, a resume may not be the right document to get you in front of people. I can help with others as well. Writing marketing documents is what I do.

Bill Lennan Red Rope Social - everyone is an influencer.

February 27th, 2017

I would do 3 things ( I've done all 3 ).

  1. create a VC pitch deck - I use Guy Kawasaki's 10/20/30 approach. I also recommend reading his book "Art of the Start". Read Oren Klaff's "Pitch Anything" also. I like this because it helps organize my thinking. Realistic revenue models are key....
  2. trial your elevator pitch on 5 strangers. I aim for 45 seconds at normal speaking rate. You want a "tell me more" response. Keep trailing until you've hit 100 people and can do it in your sleep
  3. find places to trial your VC pitch, listen to the feedback, adjust your deck or presentation as needed.

In my experience, people always over-think the MVP. This may be the #1 launch killer. I've never heard of an under-featured MVP.

Try starting as a mobile responsive website - rather than an iPhone/Android app.

( lots of very simple frameworks to leverage and get the core features )

Good luck!

David VomLehn Why would you prefer a computer that breaks?

February 26th, 2017

But...your headline says, "Few words, many talents!" I used to run a technical recruiting firm. I spent a lot of time with engineers going over their resumes, pulling out examples of what they needed for a position and seeing whether or not they really had the required skills. In many cases they did but did understand it.

So, go back to your resume and look at it with a clear understanding of what makes an entrepreneur. People are looking for:

  • drive
  • an ability to work with and lead teams
  • thinking creatively when faced with roadblocks
  • handling problems you aren't qualified to solve
  • courage to do things that have to be done
  • and much more

Anyone can call themselves and entrepreneur--and many do--but these are things that make up entrepreneurship. Let people know about these and you won't have to call yourself an entrepreneur; others will do it for you.

Good luck!

Ran Fuchs Senior executive passionate about new tech.

March 2nd, 2017

I think you are in a good company. Microsoft, Google, Facebook and many others have been founded by people coming straight from university, and investors know that. So all you need to do is convince them that you are the right person, not that you have the right experience

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

March 3rd, 2017

It's not about the resume. A resume can only tell someone what you have done (or someone else asked you to do), not what you can do. When they say invest in people, what they mean is attitude. Is the founder in it for themselves or do they put the team first? How responsible is the founder to act as custodian of an investor's money? Is there a researched plan or is the founder winging it? How does the founder spend their time and do they recognize their weaknesses? What does the founder do to address weaknesses and take criticism? This is what investing in people is about, much more than work history.