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Don’t be defensive, but defend.

When meeting with investors, during the period devoted to feedback after your presentation, you will hear comments and recommendations that don’t resonate with you. Some will be from a misunderstanding of your explanation. Some listeners will challenge your assumptions. Some will seem to ask just plain show-off questions, in which the questioner wants you and others in the room to know that s/he knows more than you do.

You are in a vulnerable position in that room, the salesperson looking for money before individuals who have nothing to lose but risky profits far in the future. You cannot appear to be standoffish, or above responding to some of these inappropriate questions.

Berkonomics books available at

Berkonomics books available at

Defend your position when appropriate. But listen carefully.   Although you may be completely right, the questioner’s comment may indicate that you are not getting your points across. That’s just as valuable for feedback as hearing a good, new idea.

[Email readers, continue here…] Sometimes, you will have an opportunity to present to several levels of an investor organization, from first prescreening, to a screening session with many present, to the final meeting of the members or partners. Plan to incorporate the appropriate responses to earlier questions in the presentation to avoid those being repeated. Show that you are both humble and adaptable.

Investment groups including venture capital fund managers will tell you that the very process of defending your plan will help you better think through the rough spots, better launch the business with fewer holes in reasoning, and better connect with resources that can be used to accelerate your growth to breakeven and beyond. The process is always time-consuming and grueling. But approached correctly, the time is well spent and the results almost always positive, even if money doesn’t come from the present effort.

  • Ray Parsons

    This one was particularly good, Dave. I hope that entrepreneurs take it to heart.

  • Kahn Jekarl

    Thanks Dave. Perfect timing for this advice!

  • Thanks so much Dave, your advice always seems to be right on point for my on-going funding efforts.

    Our solution set is complex by nature and I often have to repeate key concepts. Two things I’ve learned not to do: Never say the same thing, the same way, in the same meeting, more than once. If the second attempt doesn’t resonate, even after rephrasing, don’t try a third time. In both cases the risk of insulting someones intelligence is high even if they are indeed being dense. Follow up later with some documentation or visualization that will make the point.

    I always note the sticking point for later review as something others are also likely getting lost on even if that don’t say so.

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