What are the differences between masterminds, mentors, and investors? Should you pitch or talk to them differently? 3D Print Education expert and solopreneur John Bokla of i3D Creatives and the newly formed i3D.club has been doing a lot of pitching and talking with all three lately. In this essential business discussion, John joins Tom and Tracy Hazzard to cover the importance of joining 3D print mastermind groups, having mentors, and soliciting investors as an entrepreneur. Get some advice for getting the most out of your time with your masterminds, mentors, and investors as well as some tips on how to get the best investors for your 3D print business.
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Masterminds, Mentors & Investors, Oh My! With John Bokla Of i3D Creatives
This episode is a follow up from episode 75, where we had a little brief excerpt about 3D print pitch, tips for pitching mentors. It was such a great conversation with our guest John Bokla of i3DCreatives.
John Bokla had offered to talk to each other contest finalists and give them a little pitch mentoring before talking to us on Skype, before they would pitch to us. Those conversations became what we judged each of the finalists on and we chose them based on it. He offered and we put it out there to those finalists.
We had a great conversation where it got into a little bit more about it and we thought we need to air this as a full episode.
We then had a Skype call with John Bokla talking about all these different things. It was so good.
It’s about masterminds, mentors, and investors. They are the three areas of people you pitch to. That’s how we got started it but that the interesting part is the differences between the three.
It’s not people you pitch to but these are people you need to surround yourself with in order to develop your business to be a success.
We’ve spent a little too much of our business in years isolated. We started stepping out there ourselves. John was probably one of the first people we stepped out with because he was one of the early interviews we did for the show. For us, the explosion in our business and both what we’re working on in our mindset and how it has happened because of this expansion of viewpoint. Let’s talk to John and our conversation about the mentors, masterminds, and investors.
Thanks so much, John for offering to talk to our finalists in the 3D print mentorship contest. You are going to talk to them about pitching coaching in a sense. You’re helping them to refine their pitch a little bit, but let’s dial back and talk a little bit about the difference between mastermind, mentors, and investors. That pitching each one of those is different and you have to pitch your mastermind and your mentor. You’ve got to get them to take you.
Tom and Tracy, thank you, first of all so much for having me to the show. It’s always such a pleasure to come. The topic of working together with others in general is important, especially in the 3D printing space because it’s moving so fast. To be a part of it, you need to be able to bounce ideas off of other people. What I’ve found is when you’re talking to other people, most of the time I have a conversation with someone and they’re like, “What is 3D printing? Are you printing a physical object?” I have to go through the 5 to 10-minute talk and bring them up to speed. Having a group of people that understand not only yourself and the industry is an important part of what we’re getting into. The difference between what I would categorize the three levels of teammates on this level would be, first of all, ideally, it would be great to start a mastermind group.
A mastermind group is a group of individuals who meet on a common basis probably once a week, say 4 or 5 people. They’re great because you can get to know each other’s strengths, weaknesses and the unique situations that each one in that group is in. The second group is mentors. A mentor is someone who’s much more advanced in business or in the industry than you are. They ultimately give you feedback on a monthly, semi-annually, once a year or however often it is. The third is investors and that’s where the real pitch comes in and why we’re talking to the pitch. Investors or people who are ultimately giving you money. Typically in 3D printing, the people that are usually going to worry about investors will not be the designers so much.
It’s hard to invest in the processing people.
It’s more of the computer programming people who have the idea for social networks or the idea for a platform that’s going to convert files in a certain way. Pinshape is a great example of an amazing community that’s being built that has the potential to be a big business in the future that attracts the attention of investors. It was great to talk to some of your finalists because they’re in an interesting position where they’re pitching to a mentor. For them, I advise them to come into it similar to the way they would pitch an investor because ultimately, your time is valuable. That’s one thing that when you’re talking to mentors. You want to be able to add value to everyone in those three chains.
That was great because it is true. Our time is valuable and we’ve only listened to one so far. We’re about to have the other two. As we were listening, it was coming across that not only are we judging them on the viability of their business, but also on whether or not we connect with their goals and who they are. That’s an interesting analogy because I always hear from a lot of investors that they invest in what they know or who they like.
A lot of investors that I’ve talked to have the airport meeting mentality. If you were stuck in an airport meeting with this person for two hours, would you enjoy that time with them? Would you be okay with it? When you’re getting into an investment position, you’re creating a long-term relationship with someone else and personal relationships are important even in the new technology world that we’re living in.
The other thing that’s an interesting thought about your mentor being invested in you, is the idea that I don’t want to bring on somebody who I don’t think can succeed because I don’t want to be a failure as a mentor either. It’s no different than losing your money. You don’t want to lose your money, but I don’t want to lose my time and my reputation by investing time in someone as a mentor and have them fail.
That’s the advice that I would give to someone who’s seeking a mentor would be to show them that you’re a go-getter. Show them that you’re going to take their advice. The next time you sit down with them, show them that you’re passionate and that you care and that you have the drive to do the thing that you’re saying that you want to do. The next time you sit down with them, outline what steps you took and what advice you listen to that they gave you. Ultimately, that will be you giving value back to the mentor. That’s what they’re often in it for. It’s to see someone who’s got passion and drive and that they can help.
That’s a good point, John. Even in this one pitch that we’ve had already for from the finalists. I was struck by how passionate this individual was. He definitely got an A for enthusiasm and drive, for sure.
The interesting part is the three finalists had all reached out to us separately in some way, shape, or form during the contest. One of them contacted us on Facebook, the other one sent a voicemail over SpeakPipe prior to the contest starting. They were all in our minds. When we read their pitches, we already had a sense of who they were by the questions they had previously asked us.
That’s exactly what you guys were outlining. I’m assuming why you took them as finalists is because they have that drive, passion and that relationship that they’re tying back to. You guys feel like you know them and ultimately, we like to do business with people we know, like and trust.
Talk a little bit more about the difference between the mastermind and the mentor. What do you get out of the two things?
With a mastermind group, usually, you’ll meet potentially once a week is ideal for an hour and you’ll usually banter back and forth as a group trying to problem solve each other’s issues that you’re having with your business. Maybe you’ll take fifteen minutes each to outline what’s going on and you’ll come back and forth with ideas and collaboration. I’m in the middle of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It was written in the 1930s and he was hired by Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate. What he did was he went out and interviewed 500 of the most successful people over twenty years. The first note in the book says, “To build a group of people that you will problem solved through the problems that you’re having together working forward.” That’s ultimately what a mastermind is and now it’s so easy to start masterminds because you can do them online. You can do them through Skype. They’re extremely powerful.
Google Hangouts is great for that. I want to step in for a second and mention something. One of the things that I heard and I wish I could remember who said it, but an entrepreneur’s biggest mistake is they bounce their ideas off their family and friends. Their family and friends are usually not at the economic or business level that they aspire to. Your personal income ends up being an average of the people you surround yourself with. If your family’s not successful or it’s successful in a more traditional way.
There are different levels of success. Your family could be teachers in the public school system. If that’s what you aspire to be, you’re with the right people, but if you’re trying to start a business that’s outside of a public school system, maybe those aren’t the people you should be bouncing your ideas off of.
Your family tends to be more conservative because they have too much baggage about you.
They’ll always going to say, “That’s a great idea.” No matter what you’re working on they’re like, “That’s a great idea.” “Will you buy my product?” “Yes, I’ll buy your product,” but that’s not giving you proper feedback. If you’re trying to sell your design in the 3D printing space, you don’t want to try to sell to a friend because then they might be buying it because they like you and not because the product is good. It’s not saying anything about the product or service.
Sometimes it’s the opposite that you find that your family and friends are more naysayers because they’re less risk-takers than you are and that is problematic.
That’s a good insight for the audience. One of the most interesting things that I found working with people in mastermind groups is when I give advice, I reflect and say, “Why am I not doing that with my business?” Looking at it through a different lens with others allows you to see your own business or your vision through another lens. I find that’s a critical part of the mastermind experience.
Before you get on to the mentors, I want to add something to that last point you made. At that point, I couldn’t agree with more. Quite honestly, Tracy and I each had businesses of our own earlier on in our career but I find when we work together, the combination of our mind share and having someone to see past your blind spots, you’re holding up a mirror to yourself, it’s so important and it works for us. Especially if you’re an independent entrepreneur out there trying to start a business, this is critical at any stage. It shouldn’t be overlooked.
Tom and I sought out a mentor and we haven’t done that in years in our business because we’ve been plugging away doing just fine where we are. We realized the world is changing, we’re changing and we needed that again. We went and we talked to David Corbin, who wrote a book called Illuminate. It’s about taking negative information and having it inform you and enlighten you into turning that into positive. Things like the naysaying that happens when you go and pitch investors, for instance. That is where you need to innovate and change your business model. What we discovered about ourselves and our business is that we spent so much time talking about features and benefits that we haven’t focused on selling someone our business and our model of doing things. We only talk about details all the time because we were so engrossed in the product world.
I definitely find that you have to be able to take specific portions of feedback differently depending on who you’re talking to. That’s a great way to lead into the mentors. Mentors are someone who’s typically older or more experienced. They’re going to sit down, have coffee, usually, maybe lunch and banter back and forth. They’ll talk a little bit about your business and try to help you through your problems. What I find with mentors that differ so much from the mastermind groups is you have to identify the points that mentors have, which are good and which aren’t. What will happen is you’re typically meeting with a mentor once every six months. The mentor doesn’t have the full story because when you sit down for half an hour, you can’t exemplify to them exactly the problems and issues you’re going through.
One of the first things I say to someone when I sit down and they’re asking me for advice is, “I’m going to tell you ten things because we’ve only got twenty minutes. It’s your job as the entrepreneur to understand that only four of the things I say make sense to you. I don’t know your business, skillset and weaknesses as much as you do, so these are ten things that maybe only two of them you should take.” That’s one of the interesting things talking about illumination is what you as the entrepreneur, should take and move on with. The mentor will give you a big idea, but it’s your job to understand what is valuable insight and what you can accomplish.
You as the entrepreneur, need to take all that in, filter it and figure out what is going to be most applicable to your specific situation.
A lot of mentors are having an agenda and a viewpoint. They’re selling a book and they’re on tour. They feel that this is the most relevant to the general population. It may not be right for your business and it may not be right for you.
Another good example is a mentor that we’ve had over the years who is a master at negotiation. If you have to be in negotiation situations, he has a lot of great advice for negotiation that we have taken. Also, the same person understands zero about the internet and eCommerce. When we talk anything about that, he’s like, “You’re not wasting time on a website, are you?” He doesn’t get it.
They all have their silver bullets and they all have things that they might not understand as well but they’re all valuable. That’s one of the things that I’ve summarized with mentors. Always be humble and always be thankful. Take the advice that you do and try to execute on it and exemplify to them that you’ve done it. If I talk to you guys, I tried to exemplify that I’ve worked hard on these next steps that we’ve talked about. One of my original mentors Jeremy Hendon from Paleo Diet Magazine. I say, “Thank you so much, Jeremy. I appreciate your time and all your information insight. I couldn’t be here without you.” He laughs and says, “John, I love doing this because you go do things.”
I have to say the same thing, John. He’s right about that. A lot of times we talk to people and a lot of investors over the years. A lot of them come to us and they’re hoping to glean free advice. We try to give it as freely as we can because many of them can’t pay for our services. The reality is there’s so much that they don’t know already and they look at us like, “That can’t possibly be relevant to us.” A couple of years later, they come back and they’re like, “I wish I had understood and listened to that. Thank you for saying that anyway because once I started to get into that situation, I realized what a problem it was.”
The first time I sat down with Jeremy, he said, “I love your 3D printing idea. You should go straight to schools with it.” I was like, “I could go straight to schools,” and now finally, I’m working with schools. The last conversation was like, “I wish someone had told me I should go straight to schools the first time I sat down with them.”
The funny thing that we always joke about is this. My dad has always been one of our mentors for both of us and for our business and more so because he doesn’t get it. We have to work hard to sell him on things and to convince him. He always looks at it from an investment standpoint, that’s not his job. He’s an engineer by trade, you would look at it that way but he’s retired now. He looks at everything like, “Would I invest in it? Would someone put their money into it? If you can’t convince me of that, it’s not a worthwhile business.”
To me, that’s something that I also learned from you, John, as we were talking about your business. Tom and I have never thought of our business as investable. We’re designers, service providers, and consultants. It’s hard to invest in something like that. We started to think about it as if we can’t dial our business a benefit, and the services we provide into something that sounds that could be investable or I would want to be a part of it and as a designer, then we haven’t done our job. We started to look at our business differently and we started to work hard on our pitch, which we’ve never had to do before. We always get our jobs through word of mouth. Everybody needs one.
Advice from a mentor with that perspective is valuable. That will lead to the final group that we would work with, the investors. I’ll try to outline a pitch deck. I’ll try to go around it. It’s if you Google pitch deck, you’ll find a ton of resources on it. It’s basically a template of slides that you fill out. We’ll go through some of them quickly here but I tried to get around this pitch deck and say, “I can create such a story that it will awe the investors and it will work.”
When I dive into it and I start trying to put the whole thing together, there are these certain tip points that the investors are going to want to hear about. When you’re getting started, the critically most important thing that I found is, you need to be exceptionally clear with the two first sentences on the vision of what you do. If you can’t crystallize what your product or your service is within two sentences, the investor on the other side of the table will have a tough time talking to you any further than that because they don’t understand the next steps.
If they’re unclear, you’re going to put them in a negative frame of mind where they’re trying to say, “What are they doing? I don’t know if that’s going to work because I don’t know this.” Ultimately, through the experience of a pitch, you want to keep the investors in a positive frame of mind. If I was coming to you guys pitching and I said, “I’m in 3D printing and education. I’m going to go and I’m going to go do this and I’m going to go do that.” You guys start to think, “What is it that you’re doing?” Whereas if I said, “I provide the best, most exceptional, efficient and affordable 3D printing online education that supplement schools.” You know exactly what I do and exactly where I’m going so you understand what the next steps are.
Being exceptionally clear on what you do on your vision is important. One important distinction is sometimes when you’re pitching investors, you never know their experience. They may say they’re technology investors, but they know nothing about 3D printing or maybe they know too much because they’re already invested in 3D printing. That can hurt you as well. Being crystal clear about it shows your expertise, your direction and it shows a clarity of thinking, which is important to that investor.
The next point is usually you’ll outline the problem. I would strongly recommend when you outline your problem, outline it with a story. We’re a storytelling culture and you’ve got to remember the people on the other side of the table are people. We love stories. For me, it would be, “I was taking architecture engineering and I saw how inefficiently it was being taught at the university level. I realized if 3D printer is potentially going to relocalize manufacturing in the future, kids are going to need to know and understand this. What I did was I went out and I started teaching in person. From there, I’ve designed an online digital curriculum. Ultimately, the problem is teachers in the traditional system don’t understand how to teach 3D design and 3D printing. Thankfully, I’ve put together this curriculum that helps supplement the educational experience.” You outline the problem.
That’s one of the things that we found we struggled with. We didn’t have a story because we’ve always let the product sell itself. That’s what we do.
When you think about it, so much of what we do is for mass retail. The product has to sell itself. Somebody’s walking by amongst a ton of other products on the shelf.
While there’s a story, there’s a story behind every product we design in terms of why it’s so cost-effective or why it’s so functional or whatever it is. We never get to tell our story. That was our eye-opening experience. It was like, “We have to tell the story about our business. We have to tell the story about us.”
What we do and why you would want to work with us.
You guys are doing a great job of it. You’re definitely coming out on top in the 3D printing podcasting arena. You’re doing a fabulous job of outlining. Every time I come to your site, it’s exemplified clearly the story that you portray.
Thank you. What’s next? What else do you do in your pitch deck?
Going through the pitch deck, you’ll Google them and you’ll see go to Market Strategy and How You’re Going to Market. Everybody’s different. What’s the market outlook and how’s the markets moving. The 3D printing space is growing 20% to 50% compound annual growth rates in all these different areas. It’s exploding. Those are all easy. Some of the things I might say for someone who’s getting into the 3D printing investment meetings, you want to outline why you were the right person for the job. It’s easy to Google a few things about 3D printing and say, “I want to get into it,” but to be able to say, “I’ve been in the industry for 2 to 3 years like Bram de Zwart at 3D Hubs.” He worked for 3D Systems for 2 to 3 years before he went off and started 3D Hubs. Instead of investors, I believe he was in an incubator. He understood the industry. He was the right person to do the job. Try to exemplify to them why you’re the right person.
In this industry, we should mention that years of experience does not necessarily mean anything. We have some people who have been in it since the beginning because 3D printing is not a new technology. Yet it hasn’t taken off. Being new to it is not necessarily a negative, but having the set of skill experiences leading into that is the important part.
Anybody who’s new can get involved but you’ve got to have something that even if it’s your drive your determination. Usually, what will happen in these investors meetings is, you’ll already have traction. You’ll want to have traction so you’ll outline, “These are the social numbers that I’ve created,” for whatever reason. The reason that you’re the right person is important. The next thing that I would strongly recommend going into these meetings is to have a good grasp on understanding what grants are available to you and what potential business loans are available to you.
I would look at business loans before I look at investments and also a good sound understanding of the crowdfunding scene. Do you need to raise this money so you can start a crowdfunding campaign? Do you need $100,000 for 10% of your valuation because you need that money to launch this Kickstarter campaign that’s going to raise you $1 million? You can outline it to the investor, “You get 10% of a company that potentially if it works, it’s going to have $1 million in funding.”
That’s a good point, John because when you go into these meetings, sometimes they want to know what you already have tried, why you’re in front of them. If you don’t have an understanding of what’s possible in loans, grants and crowdfunding. We did that and we went there and did crowdfunding and loans just to see what was going on in the marketplace. I have to say that 3D print crowdfunding is a little sluggish. Don’t think that that’s a cure-all for you. It takes a tremendous amount of pre-marketing, marketing, and connections to make it work for anyone who does make it work.
If you don’t have those connections or an audience to communicate your project to, you’re going to need that $100,000 investment from somebody to be able to get the word out. Think about that. In the loans world, we’ve come up and discovered a lot of issues with loans, insurance and a bunch of other things. There’s a lack of understanding of 3D printing within that world. That may be your problem, but maybe you’ll have the right connection and find somebody who knows what they’re doing, and it will be easier. Those may be good reasons, but you should have a reason why that’s not a viable option for you or your business.
I agree with you going in and not only being able to articulate to those potential investors why you are there instead of going to anyone of those other available options for you, it’s making sure you have a clearer understanding yourself of all of them. Are you sure you want an investor that’s going to take a significant chunk of your company or do you have the credit and maybe the history in your own business? If you have a business and you’re growing an offshoot of it in 3D printing, you may already have all you need to get a loan to fund what you need to do.
Why give a share to an investor if you don’t have too?
I would strongly recommend avoiding investors if possible. Back to what Tom said about creating an audience or cultivating a group of people that follow you in order to launch your Kickstarter campaign. If that’s the one point that your audience takes from this looking to the future of 3D printing, there’s going to be a lot of opportunities. Launching a platform, even if it’s a social media platform, a blog that creates an audience of fans that follow and take action on the things that you recommend. It could be your silver bullet looking forward. It could be that once you are ready to need the funds, you could have 5,000 people that are ready to buy it. You’ve been blogging and creating that audience over the past 1 or 2 years or however long it’s going to be before you enter this space.
We couldn’t agree more, John. You may have the best product idea in the world and you know how to develop it but you think, “I’m going to build it, invest all this money in producing it, distributing it, and the customers will be there.” You may find yourself in trouble if you go down that path. Tying up a lot of money in investors’ money or loan money or whatever it is in inventory that’s sitting there slowly selling in the beginning is a painful mistake that a lot of people make. More businesses should do exactly what you’re suggesting. Plan and come up with a strategy for how you’re going to communicate out there to the market that the product is here and why they should buy it. Spend money and time on that first, then bring the product out once you have an audience.
It’s different than it was in the past.
If you do the the alternative way, the first way you have it is what we’re talking about. It’s called gaining an audience’s organic traffic. In order to convert sales, to convert money, you need to first get the traffic. It cost money to get traffic unless you have that organic audience. The second type of traffic is paid traffic. You would have YouTube ads, Google ads, Facebook ads, and it costs a lot of money to drive traffic. At all costs try to avoid paid traffic if possible.
It’s not worth it. We’ve done a lot of little tests to see how things go over the ways because we want it to be able to advise people what’s working and what’s not working. None of it is working in a significant way. You can drive a lot of views and maybe you can drive a lot of visibility, but the translation into click-throughs is low.
To add to what Tracy is saying, you say it’s not worth it. To some companies that may be worth it, but to your point, you’ve got to put so much money at it because the percentage of relevant people that will see it that will click through is so low. You got to maybe market a million people instead of 50,000 people if you don’t have the relevant organic traffic from a blog or some other social media marketing that you’re doing.
I don’t know if your audience is familiar with The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. It’s a great book that’s like a bible in the startup culture. The Lean Startup was build, measure, learn and keep iterating until you have a model that scales. In order to have that, you need to be sticky, so when people come to your website, they stick around and it has to be viral, so people want not only want to come, they share it. Once you get those two critical components, I would assume it’s worth looking at paid advertising because people stick around. You keep them as users. They’ll share your message to others and grow that original conversion.
One of the things I want to mention quickly because you were talking about googling Pitch Deck, SlideShare is a great place to find some of those pitch decks that are public. A lot of people stick them out there. They don’t realize how public they are, but you can go through SlidesShare and there’s a lot of public pitch decks out there to use as examples.
There’s a lot and we said we were going to keep it short but we dived into some interesting things.
This is good information, John. This would be valuable to people outside the 3D printing industry as well but especially for those in 3D printing who are looking at their own entrepreneurial venture. This is going to be tremendously valuable. It should be an episode on its own in reality.
We might split it off, so we’ll see. Thanks, John for coming on the show. We enjoyed every time and there’s so much valuable information so we’ll have to keep doing this again and again.
It was a lot of fun. There’s going to be a lot of opportunities in the future of 3D printing. What you guys are doing is amazing and helping a lot of people get insight into the information that they’re going to need.
I thought that it was good to define the differences between mastermind, mentors, and investment group and how you think you can approach each and how you’re going to need all of them.
I want to add to a little bit of what John was talking about investors. We’ve become members of CEO Space.
For those of you who don’t know that, that’s CEO Space International. They have five conferences a year and it’s a huge networking opportunity and access to investors.
That’s for both new startup businesses as well as existing ones who have things that they need to do to grow, expand and do business better than they have been.
For us, CEO Space in particular is one of the multiples that fortuitously happened. The event happened when I went on MeetUp and said, “That sounds interesting. I’m going to go to it.” The people that we’ve met has been a snowball effect of things that have changed and improved our business in a matter of weeks. We haven’t even gotten to the conference yet. For us, it was worth it and there are lots of organizations out there. I’m not saying CEO Space is the perfect one for everyone but it works for us and that’s where we’re going.
In one of those local meetups, at CEO space, we met a guy named Bill Stierle. He was talking about all sorts of different things regarding corporate culture but there was one thing in particular that he was sharing regarding investors. It was about what are the seven things that an investor needs to see to be motivated to write the check. I found this fascinating and I’m going to go through it quickly. I’m not going to delve too much in each one of these. The first thing on the list is trust. You’ve got to quickly engage and gain the trust of the investor you’re pitching to.
If you’re treating your mentor as an investor, sometimes you have the opportunity to establish that trust outside of the actual pitch. Whether that’s in your email correspondence with them, with your ability to ask them questions, with your ability to meet them at events and get to know them prior to pitching them. All of those things are critical in the networking process to building that trust.
The second thing is communication or connection. You need to quickly identify who you’re talking to, what the personality type is, and communicate with them in a way that’s going to keep them engaged. If they’re not a numbers person, you’re only talking about numbers, you’re going down the wrong path.
It’s like what John said about the airport thing. You’re two hours in the airport. Am I bored to tears sitting next to this person and talking with him or am I still so excited that two hours isn’t enough?
Integrity is number three. You’ve got to somehow show that you are a person of integrity. That goes back a little bit to the trust issue but integrity is a little different.
Some of that come across in your pedigree and history of what you’ve done, who you’ve worked with and who you know as well. Keep that in mind as being important.
Value is number four. This is not necessarily financial value. It’s other type of value. It’s the value of your product in the market.
Think about it like this. Some investors have portfolios of investment groups and maybe 3D printing would be a feather in the cap of their technology portfolio group and they’re not in that space yet. It’s the same thing when we talk about a patent portfolio being an asset for some investment groups and some things like that. If it’s a technology or something that they’re interested in or eager to have as a value to it, then it doesn’t matter about everything else in the process.
The fifth thing is plan. They want to see that you’ve thought everything out and you have an intentional plan.
We’re not talking about a financial plan.
You have an execution plan for what you’re trying to do as a business. You’re not meandering through it. You’re not going to leave some things to figure out as you go along. Investors never like that.
Make sure that you’ve got it staged and sequenced. That’s also critical.
The sixth thing is alignment, which means backing up what you’ve been saying about your value and your plan. You need to back it up with some evidence and some truth.
Could it be social proof, proof of concept, some sales, if you’ve got it already if it’s the product?
It can be several or any combination of those things, but it’s about backing it up. It’s also about telling the truth now if there’s any caveats, conditions or anything like that. You want to be upfront about it.
It’s like how many other investors you might have or whether or not you’ve gone bankrupt or any of those things.
There maybe other competition in the space that you’re planning around. You don’t want to make these people believe you’re the only guy doing it if there is somebody else.
When they go back, they do their research and their homework and they start finding these things out, it will look like you were hiding it.
If you were hiding it, you’re going to lose. You’re not going to get through their fact check. You’ve lost the integrity. You’ve broken that trust that you’ve worked hard to set up and to top here. Here’s what surprised me the most, going through this exercise of learning these things. Financial considerations were the last thing. It’s always the last thing an investor is going to care about. Here’s the interesting thing of why that is, I’m not talking about getting a loan at a bank. It’s an entirely different thing. We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about an investor who is going to write you a check from their own pocket and/or a venture capital group or something that. They are not investing money that they can’t afford to lose. If you approach them all about the numbers of this investment opportunity upfront, that’s not going to interest them so much. They have this money to invest. They don’t need it to live on. Why are they going to want to do it? You’ve got to sell them on why. You’ve got to engage them interestingly.
As John puts it when he was talking. He said, “You invest in people you know, like, and trust. You work with people you know, like, and trust.” That’s important here too. Also, when you have a product-based business, a concept-based or whatever is your product, it could be a service. If that product or service is of interest to the investor, they personally have a child who is gluten-free and you offer a gluten-free product or whatever that is. If that happens, there’s an alignment of those interests. When everything else works out, the financials aren’t as important because they see there’s a market for it in their head or in their own family.
That’s a good point, Tracy. We’ve seen this sometimes. I don’t know if any of our readers ever watch Shark Tank. While Shark Tank has its uniqueness and issues, there are some interesting things that happen along those lines. I’ve seen a few times when Mark Cuban would invest in something that the other guys would say, “Why would you ever invest in this, this doesn’t make any sense.” He connected personally with what that person was doing, that product or service, and he wanted to do it. He’s not investing money he can’t afford to lose. The financial side of it, when it doesn’t make sense for another investor who it doesn’t mean anything to and it means something to them, they might invest despite of the financials maybe not necessarily being the best.
All that is good. The other thing that we should say is like all of this stuff on our show, you can take some of it and leave it like what John was talking about. This is general advice. We don’t know you. We can’t talk to you personally but I would love to talk to you personally. Feel free to communicate with us @HazzDesign everywhere. I was at a CEO Space event and someone said that advice was your best guess. I thought that that was an interesting thing because it is your best guess. I don’t know what you need. I can only give out general advice about 3D printing and about business.
I can give out things that I see as a problem from the people we touch and all of those. When you ask us a question on our Ask Us Anything or you touch base with us, now I’m giving you counsel because now I’m dialing it into our experience. I’m giving you counsel on how to solve that problem. The most important thing here is to collaborate, reach out, ask questions and ask for help. That is the best way for you whether you’re asking help from a mastermind group of people who are in the same thing and doing similar things as you or you’re asking it from your mentor. You need to have that question in mind. What do I need?
You need to understand your business and your plan well. If you’re going to a mentor, understand what you don’t know, get that advice, get that mentorship and fill in the blanks to have that complete plan before you go to that investor. You have to have it all dialed in before you go out.
You only have a short period of time with them and you want it to become counsel and not just advice. Otherwise, like John said, “I only have fifteen minutes to give you this. I’m going to give you ten things maybe two will be good.” At least there’s that and that’s worth having. If you can get counsel, it’d be all the better for your business. We hope you enjoy this. This is a little longer episode. We’ve been hearing from you that you want them to be longer.
We are getting some comments and feedback from the audience.
It’s not quite a commute that we thought of short commutes but we shouldn’t because we live near LA and it’s always a long commute. We’re trying to lengthen it a little bit, especially on our Thursday show, so we hope this helps.
Get out of the office and talk to people. Get some help, complete your plan and get it all figured out.
Read the next episode. We’ll have lots more questions and focus on other things that are a little more 3D print related. Thanks again for reading.
- Episode 75
- John Bokla
- Think and Grow Rich
- Jeremy Hendon
- 3D Hubs
- 3D Systems
- Lean Startup
- CEO Space International
- Bill Stierle
- Mark Cuban
- @HazzDesign – Facebook
- i3D.club & i3DCreatives.com
- Pure Paleo Living – Jeremy Hendon
- Think & Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
- Lean Start-Up – Eric Ries
- XPrize Education
- Slideshare Pitch Deck
- 3D Hubs
- Corporate Culture Development – Bill Stierle
- CEO Space International
About John Bokla | i3D Creatives & i3D Club
John is a 27 year old from Western Canada who got excited for the future of 3D Printing while studying Architectural Engineering at Thompson Rivers University. He aims to teach in a way that he would want to learn if he was still a kid. He tests his teaching i3D Creatives Launchpad techniques through classes at The Big Little Science Centre in Kamloops, BC for kids ages 8-12. John is also the host of #i3D Podcast where he is working on building a lean business through the use of 3D Printing. Note – John has just launched i3D.club the most effective, efficient and affordable 3D Print education for kids from 5+.
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