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Go Get Five Customers and Let’s Talk Again

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David Cummings on Startups

For idea stage or prototype stage startups, there’s a response that’s becoming more common when pitching angel investors:

Go get five paying customers that love what you’re doing and then let’s talk again.

It’s not that angel investors don’t want to help — they do. There are several reasons why this response is more prevalent:

  • Angel investors want to mitigate risk, and signing five paying customers is great progress for the startup towards proving product/market fit
  • An important test for entrepreneurs is ability to follow through and meet a goal, so this is a straightforward assignment
  • The cost of building a product has gone down significantly such that entrepreneurs should be able to scrape together friends and family money together to get a prototype built and sign early customers before raising professional angel money

Investor dollars are scarce and entrepreneur talent is strong resulting in angels requiring more startup progress…

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