I’ve finally emerged from the deluge of Groupon-related mails which I completely brought upon myself. Twice. When not answering those and investigating what to do next, I’ve been spending a lot of time with startups in the UK and Ireland. There have never been more people starting companies, which is awesome. What is not awesome is that far too many of you are not reading people like Mark Suster and Dave McClure before you pitch ideas. Here’s my list of Stuff To Not Say To Me if you’re trying to pitch me something (particularly games):
Stuff To Not Say (Or Do) To Me
“We can be bigger than Zynga because we have better graphics”
This is particularly aimed at ex-console developers who think that social games are crap because they don’t look photorealistic. And thus by making a triple-A social title, they’ll be bigger than Zynga. Dear console games industry, please go and study history. Nicholas Lovell from Gamesbrief wrote a much elegant description of this phenomenon on TechCrunch. All startups coming from the console games industry need to read this.
“I suppose we’re sort of aiming at a general demographic”
I actually sat through a startup team presentation who didn’t know who their consumer was. The three of them looked at each other and muttered something about male, 16-35. I muttered something back about wasting my time and setting them on fire. They left. Know precisely who your demographics are.
“I’ve copied my business plan in the email”
You would think that most people’s common sense filters would prevent them copy an entire business plan into the content of an email. But no! I had this at least five times in the last month. I’ve now created a folder called ‘The Special People’ in Gmail. It has no sharp edges.
Bad Terrible writing
Although I have no hard data on this, I’m completely comfortable saying that the majority of founders are pretty terrible at English. A lot of others aren’t great at simplifying their ideas into a digestible format either. THIS IS OK THOUGH. Just make sure you find someone to help you through it before you circulate. I’ve lost track of how much time I spend doing this with startups.
Insisting on in-person meetings
If I had some kind of teleportation ability coupled with a time-slowing power, I’d meet everyone in person always. Obviously this isn’t always possible. So if someone offers you a phone call instead, take it. It’s a start. Honestly, do you really think your face is that influential?
“This is my story…”
I like a narrative about a company. Too many founders seem to confuse this with a narrative about their life.
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