A too easy startup story and how we funded an ill-timed idea
Anyone who buys into the startup mythology spectrum has read accounts of how difficult it is to raise money, especially when all you’ve got is an untested idea. Endless pitching, bored investors, and dismissals of your ideas, right? Well, I had an idea in 2011 and I pitched to exactly one seed fund and got funded. Which sounds cool, but it didn’t turn out that way.
Eight Powerpoint slides thrown together in an hour
It was Christmas week and I was browsing the tech blogs when I read about an early stage fund that was taking a different approach. They were based in France and funded by a young tech billionaire. No limited partners and a very minimal staff. They had decided to fund one hundred early stage startups in a year with a very fast decision-making process and simple term sheets that were fair to both parties. Basically they were going to throw spaghetti at the wall and see what stuck. I found their concept refreshing and dragged up my startup ideas list to see what I could pitch. I settled on one (more on that in a bit), and spent an hour putting together a pretty lame pitch deck, just eight slides. I sent it off to their site and never expected to hear a word. It was basically a whim.
A week later an email from them appeared in my in box.
I was expecting a ‘Sorry, but not for us’ reply. Instead they were interested in learning more. Could I send a brief business plan? Needless to say I was not expecting that. They also said they required at least two founders. So I recruited a web designer friend of mine as a co-founder and grabbed a domain name, 24pagebooks.com (no longer active), and then wrote out a summary. They read it, asked a few questions, and then asked if we could meet with a friend in NYC so he could vet us in person. I think they basically wanted to see if we were not kooks. We flew to NY, met the very nice guy, a Frenchman with his own startup, and then flew home. A few days later we were sent a term sheet.
Tem sheets are documents where the investor sets out the terms of the investment, how much they…