Can your startup get funded with just a pitch deck and a good team, no working product?

Repeat after me, “I don’t need an MVP, I don’t need an MVP, I don’t need an MVP.”

Now, watch the Kevin Costner classic Field of Dreams with a critical eye… if you build it they, the ghosts and a massive crowd of people in the middle of Iowa, will come, only happens in the movies.

Funding has precisely zero to do with merely proving you can build something.

Don’t get me wrong, you MAY need to build it. There are circumstances in which what you’re doing is technically feasible but logically unreasonable; prove people wrong by building it and tackling the real problem therein of disrupting or creating a new market.

Draw it and start talking.

By FAR, the greatest mistake that startup founders make is that they start with the wrong things. They tend to have an assumption or desire about how to solve a problem and they go -> They build THAT so they can test their assumptions.

No.

How do you actually start, with no money, so that you know you aren’t wasting your time?

Here’s what no one will tell you: You don’t start selling and don’t just start coding.

If you are to actually have what you might consider a successful venture, a business, it starts there – in determining that you actually have a business. Do you know the market intimately?

Competitors, history, potential partners, costs, revenue models, what potential customers think they want – and what they might actually want?

That’s your job. That’s the half of a business that creates the value. So let’s start, right now, with 4 simple things:

ONE: Get a notebook. Head to your favorite coffee shop and start ONE of 500, sit down, face-to-face, one-on-one random interviews to figure out what not to do and to build a foundation of people to whom to turn with the initial solution. Yes, FIVE HUNDRED. Start spending your days caffeinated – you’re going to need it anyway.

TWO: Start marketing, constantly. Not promotion! We don’t have anything to promote yet. Start MarketingThe work of knowing and developing the market.

This is not the same as step #1, talking to potential customers, nor is it promotion. This is market research, competitive analysis, studying from where you might get funding, learning how such things exit, investigating what works and what doesn’t, etc. We do this to such a great degree as this is how we figure out what to do

insider secret: because customers are usually wrong – you do the interviews to figure out what NOT to do and you do marketing to figure out what TO do

THREE: Establish some market share by building out some industry assets: a Facebook group, a twitter, a mailing list, a newsletter… build some assets that are NOT consistent with your company name. We’re not yet building a brand as we don’t have that yet either – build some potential market share through industry related assets from where you’ll find an audience, fans, and early customers.

FOUR: Build a team. Sounds like you’ve already started. No startup in the history of startups is the success of one person, right? No investor in the history of investors funds one person. So… do you have a fundable team? (“great” is subjective)

Figure out your gaps and fill them with experience in a team that can succeed. Great can be a bunch of friends who really want to do this! Great could be a solid set of Developers… but no one with industry or marketing experience. Build a relevant, committed, diverse, capable team and you can accomplish anything: startups really only fail when the team quits.

Now you’re fundable 🙂