Should you give your valuation on your first date?

I was participating the other day to a project presentation session at a Business Angel club. The different presentations were all finally presenting some slide where you could find the money they need (a good point) and some valuation (a bad point). Let me give a fatherly piece of advice: “do not give your valuation on the first date”.

 This special moment of seduction where entrepreneurs meet potential investors is definitely a first date. You may engage for a long time as partners and you must surely take the female approach of being very selective on the gene pool and the means of survival that you want for the baby that “you” will be carrying. So be very seductive, be plain open on what you need, but do not spoil this first getting-together with valuation. The risks that you take is that you could deter some potential investors that have a lot to offer beside money. Second, in a good negociation, you must try if possible not to be the one giving the first price: if your valuation is silly and you find someone ready to talk with you, chances are they will never go for the long stand or are plain stupid. In the case of professional investors like VCs, this can be even considered as a faux-pas, VCs will use their own valuation mechanisms to come to a price and you’ll have small freedom to maneuver beside playing several potentially suitable partners one against the others.

 So do not rush things. Dress your idea up for the event, give your number at the end of the first rendezvous and wait to see if you convinced a smart investor or two to try to know more about you,… and be ready to get rid of the indecisive ones.

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