Advice from investors at LAUNCH: Be insane, but not too insane

By Richard Nieva , written on March 4, 2013

From The News Desk

One of the most stressful things about being an entrepreneur is the pitch. And often the biggest challenge about the pitch is standing out amongst all the entrepreneurs that VCs see.

According to a panel of investors at the LAUNCH festival in San Francisco, one way to make an impression is to present a really big idea. That’s easier said than done, but just as important as the audacity of the idea is showing you have the ability to execute. Translation: It’s okay to look insane, just be able to deliver.

“One of the biggest problems I have with the companies I see when I look across the table is when there is nothing radical. Nothing big,” says Tony Conrad of True Ventures. He credited Google as one of the big companies that is really “going for it,” citing self-driving cars and Glass.

But on a micro level, it also comes down to something evocative. “I want to feel inspired. If I don’t, I’ll drop out. Even if I like the idea,” said George Zachary, of Charles River Ventures.

It’s also important to be able to see what you have with your product and not underestimate how big it can become. Zachary recalled Twitter’s “five-year spreadsheet” and the company’s pitch to raise another round of funding. The extent of the scope was: People are Tweeting, and that won't be changing anytime soon. You can find out what cafes to go to, where you won’t see your old coworkers, Zachary said, laughing. “It was not remotely accurate. It was way too small," he said. “It didn’t mention anything about elections or revolutions.”

But most importantly, be innovative. It might be obvious, but you know what’s not innovative? Sending a physical business plan to a firm via FedEx. Is that a clear sign to the investor that you should stay away from the company, LAUNCH founder Jason Calacanis asked?

“Uh, yeah,” said Zachary.