Common Email / by Nate Westheimer

Today I wrote an email reply to an entrepreneur I've written a hundred times since I've been on the VC/startup advisor side of the table. It's an email I wish I had written myself nearly three years ago when I began my BricaBox quest, and so I'm releasing it to the general public as the "Common Email," under a Creative Commons license. Feel free to copy, paste, and send to any entrepreneur seeking funding too soon and being unnecessarily canny about his/her plans! Hi, without knowing more specifics about your startup, I can only assume that without even a prototype you're too early to be seeking funding. I'd work on getting the product finished and out in the open, being widely used.

Theses days, it's a rare case (usually proven entrepreneurs an investor has worked with before) that something not-yet-built or even not extensively used gets a real look from investors let alone investment.

Also, I'd adjust your thinking a bit about what "bootstrapping" means. $200,000 is a real Angel round these days. Bootstrapping means using your own money (or that of close friends and family), and usually less than $50k of it, to get something built and in the market, gaining adoption or customers. One company we invested in last summer was nearly cash-flow positive upon investment, and they had only spent $15,000 getting to that point.

Lastly, building a User Generated Content (UGC) site without one or two technical co-founders is going to be super tough, because its both hard to innovate and cut through the noise in the space. If your idea is truly great, and you have the prowess to breakthrough the flurry of UGC sites launched everyday, I think a good entrepreneurial test will be either finding a person or firm that shares your passion and wants to work with you for free or equity, especially if you don't have the funds personally to get this built by paying someone. (Of course the flip side of this is finding an investor who is also equally passionate about the product you want to build and also has the desire to bankroll the first iteration of the project.)

It goes without saying, all of this is tough!

I hope this feedback is valuable. If you'd like to pass on more specifics about your project, I'd be pleased to give more specific feedback. But, from the outline you gave me, I think your best bet is to forget investors for the while and get building!

Regards,

Nate