For anyone who’s pitching a new idea or seeking investment in a new product, there’s a four-letter word you never want to hear.
Investors say “it’s nice” when they really mean “I’m not interested, but I don’t want to hurt our relationship” or sometimes, “I don’t understand this yet.”
Often it’s a variation on this theme: “I sorta like it” or “Come back to me when you have something built out.” They don’t quite want to turn you down; there might be something there. But they need more tangible information to get on board with their money and their reputation.
“Nice” is particularly sinister because it sounds encouraging. Maybe it’s a yes? Many startups’ hopes have been falsely raised because of feedback that was nice instead of real.
What you really want, as MTV’s Real World would say, is to “Find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.”
Real feedback is constructive. It isn’t vague. So how do you move past nice and get to real?
There are two strategies you can use to accomplish this.
1. Show them something real
Pitching a new product can be the ultimate catch-22. You need investment to build a product, and investors need to see how the product works before they’ll invest.
When you pitch your idea, you might hear vague feedback like, “That’s a nice idea. Come back to us when the product is ready and we’ll take another look.” But you can’t do that without funding, right?
The way to successfully solve this entrepreneur’s dilemma is with prototypes.
When our team at Shrine is working with an entrepreneur on a new idea, we create prototypes that don’t require any code to be built but which are clickable meaning you can navigate around the prototype as if it were the real thing. It helps the person you’re pitching get a better sense of how your new product will work in the real world. And it allows them to give you more constructive feedback without spending a fortune building a piece of technology that will only end up in the wrecking pile.
2. Ask for a real commitment
Just as you are asking potential funders and buyers to be specific in their feedback, you need to offer a direct and specific call to action.
If your pitch ends with a statement like “well, if you’re interested in investing/buying, here’s our contact info…” you’re going to get an equally passive response from your audience.
You don’t need to be overly aggressive, but don’t shy away from a direct question like, “If I build this, will you sign up?” or “Would you be willing to sign a Letter of Intent (LOI)?” If you’ve provided your targets with an accurate prototype, they’ll be able to answer those questions. If the answer is no, great, you can ask for feedback. What would it take for you to commit? How could we improve this?
When you’re asking for commitment, things get real. It coaxes honest feedback out of your audience, which gives you the information you need to decide if your idea is worth pursuing.
Do you have a big idea you’re ready to prototype? We’d love to help you make it a reality. Reach out and tell us more about your new product or idea.