Down the trampoline

For the best part of the last two years, I devoted my life to this start-up, OneWedge.

Like any start-up, it has been so far an exhilarating journey: since its inception, we (me and my brother Paolo) have been working on defining the business model and testing it with hundreds of potential customer calls.

We’ve been encouraged by the fact that so many big corporations took the time to discuss our idea with us, even though we are nothing, yet: we have been met with genuine interest which sometimes resulted in rejection, more often in polite, “let’s-keep-in-touch” interest and in some cases in authentic, enthusiastic support.

However our idea needs money (several millions) and the search for funding has been exactly like they tell you it is: endless pitching of investors, looking for the right one.

That part is not pleasant, take my word, rejection is ugly.

It causes you to doubt yourself, to think that maybe you’re too early, that you don’t have the right background or experience, that your competitors will crush you, that you’re too old, More insidiously, rejection is often due to the inability to overcome the nagging feeling I read in their eyes:

If this is the solution, how comes no-one of your many, big competitors has thought of it?

It’s the worse kind of objection, first of all, because it’s implicit, secondly because I have been asking myself the same question every morning for the past two years.

Reading books written by entrepreneurs who made it, usually you find an empirical 10-to-1 rejection rate, meaning 9 out of 10 investors you pitch won’t even meet you, and 9 out of 10 you meet won’t invest. By that metric, I am still way short on rejections.

Anyway, next Monday we’re headed for Florence where we’ll meet a group of hot investors prospects; this is not really a cold call, as we had the benefit of a long preparation phase with investment advisors: this meeting has been thoroughly prepped and their interest probed already. The deck has been scrupulously rehearsed – including the de-luxe rehearsal session at the TEDx – and it has been a long time since I have ever met a “new” objection.

I write this ahead of the event to make sure I faithfully record my feelings as they truly are and not through the filter of delusion or elation depending on the outcome.

I need my best performance, ever – I play the visionary, Paolo plays the concrete, down-to-earth Operations man. By experience, I know the impact will be directly proportional to how high on adrenaline I will be, because audiences large or small feel energy flowing and are attracted to it, they want to partake.

Most people think that events like the TED limit the length of talks to less than 20 minutes not to bore the audience, but I think the real reason is that they don’t want to exhaust the best speakers who pour immense amounts of energy on the audience.

Thanks God the week is almost over, only 80 hours to go, then we’ll look down the trampoline.

After that, there is only the jump.

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