The first time I met John I was really surprised. He was introduced to me from an investor in my new company at the time and John was an old friend of his.
What surprised me about John how human he was. He was in his late sixties and somewhat stubborn and opinionated. But not it an arrogant way.
John’s wealth started with his grandfather’s company. The family ran and grew it into a conglomerate that was eventually sold. John now managed the family’s assets of over a billion dollars.
And I was really nervous when I pitched him, knowing what he could mean to my company. But after listening to me for a few minutes and asking a few questions, John politely rejected my request to invest.
I forgot about John until about a year later when we were at the next level with our business. I knew John was not interested in us but I was able to set up a meeting to get his advice on how to get the next round of financing in, which we were in desperate need of.
At lunch John asked me a bunch of questions and I gave him updates. And while I had answered most of his questions hundreds of times before to other investor leads, at lunch I was just being honest as I knew he was not interested. Polished sales pitch was off and guard was down. I just wanted his advice.
After desert, John asked me how much I was looking for. “Quarter of a million” was my answer. He said, “Why don’t you walk back with me to my office and I’ll write you a check.”
I said, “Excuse me??!!”, to which he smiled and said, “Let’s go.” And in that moment my company took a giant leap forward.
It was far more than the money John invested, it was how involved he became in our business that made him so amazing for us. Instant credibility was gained when people learned he was involved in the business. In fact often our staff would say, “Stefan, John’s on the phone… again!”
And John would call to tell me things like, “Stefan, I just spoke with [so-and-so]. He/she is a $xxx million-dollar guy and they told me to tell you to call them.”
A week later he would check to see if I had spoken with his referral. The times I told John the person did not return my call, he would curse and hang up before I could even finish my sentence.
Ten minutes later the phone was ringing with that person on the line.
And that is an angel investor. In fact, a dream angel.
Angels, if you’re not familiar with the term, are investors that do far more than give you money. They roll up their sleeves and help build the company. The love the excitement and energy the business is generating and they want to be a part of it.
So how do you find one for yourself?
Seven Steps for Finding Your Billionaire Angel Investor:
1. Refine your vision. Make it “billionaire”-like in scale. Make sure it fits the mindset of someone accustomed to thinking really big and powerfully. This doesn’t necessarily mean the size of the business. Make it real and realistic, but your (authentic) passion and intensity of it must be huge.
2. Pick your Angel. Identify them by name. Find out as much as you can about them. What they like and have they funded before. Find out their key people: their spouse, personal assistant, administrator, etc.
3. Use the back door. Often times they are not accessible directly. Find out how to get in front of a key contact of theirs. That should not be nearly as difficult. Start to build a relationship with that person.
4. Get your ducks in a row. The basics like finances, business plan, executive summary, sales pitch, etc. Make sure you know your industry and what is going on. Feel very comfortable in what you know and what you don’t know.
5. Practice on your D-list first. Then C-list, then B-list before going to your billionaire contact (i.e. “A-list”.) Make your mistakes and iron out the kinks on those you are OK with messing up on. And you WILL mess up!
6. Be comfortable in your skin. Passionate about where you are taking the company… and most importantly, be real.
7. Ask for their advice. These guys are usually hit up all the time. To help them relax and really “be” with you, let them know you (authentically) would like their advice on what to do next for your business.
These steps do not ensure you will nail it every time, but do know what makes you 1,100% more attractive to someone who is constantly approached for money, is just being real with them. Being relaxed and yourself.
So go to it and perhaps you will walk home with someone just like John!
Action Steps for the Week:
Looking for funding in your business? Who is your dream investor? What do you know about him/her?
Research that person until you feel you really “know” your billionaire angel investor.
Make sure your business is something that would excite them. How you will know this is a) how excite are you about it and b) their interest level in your industry.
Do you have a way to get in front of them? If not, who do you know who knows an inner-circle person? Still drawing a blank?
Then who do you know who knows someone who might know an inner-circle person?
Don’t give up and more-than-likely you’ll be in front of your potential angel sooner than you think.