Money Minus, Money, Money Plus

I've been getting a lot of questions lately about raising money for InkFlip. Questions like:

  • Have you found an investor yet?
  • Are you still interested in taking on an investor?
  • What are you looking for in an investor?
Answers: No. Yes. See below.

I've been fortunate to have no lack of opportunity to speak with potential investors. While there are many ways I could categorize those I've spoken with (institutional investors, angels, tire kickers, sharks : ), etc.), in my mind I've now got them pretty well separated into 3 distinct groups - Money Minus, Money, and Money Plus.

Money Minus
Those in this group have the money. The problem is that their money comes with tremendous baggage. The inexperienced investors will have unrealistic expectations, very little patience and, based on their inexperience, bad advice they will not only want to give but see implemented to the detriment of the company. Then there's the, "I love this concept let me risk it all" investor who is likely to have zero patience and keep me up at night with phone calls and emails. It's one thing to watch your money, it's another thing completely to be watching you last few dollars. I simply don't want to be along for that ride. There are others in this category but I'm sure you see my point. This Money Minus group brings money and a side-order of negatives.

This one is easy. This group is comprised of people who have the money to risk, are typically involved in a number of other investments, and are willing to financially support what I'm doing... from a distance. In other words, "Here's the check, let me know how it turns out". I know this sounds GREAT on the surface - no pressure, no strings - but the reality is that the right partner can bring wisdom, guidance and connections to the table that these money-only guys do not.

Money Plus
In this group I've found investors who are seasoned, savvy, and want to bring not only money but expertise and, in some cases, resources (marketing, sales, fulfillment, etc.) to the table along with that money. Money Plus is clearly where I want to be.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
While you may have never studied it, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs applies here. Maslow suggested that we all have basic needs that MUST be met (sleeping, breathing, eating, etc.) but we also have other needs that, if met, greatly enhance our quality of life (creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, etc.). Not having the "other" needs met won't kill us, but our life experience and chances of "success" as defined in our culture are severely diminished. So how does this apply to money?

First off, it's ALL green and it ALL spends well. However, when I survey the sources available the money is not equivalent across the board. Some actually does LESS than meet the basic need (Money Minus), some meets the need (Money), and some meets the need and provides a much greater chance of success (Money Plus).

Needless to say, I'm still talking to investors in all three groups - after all the basic need must be met. As you can imagine, now that I have this picture clear in my head, those in the Money Plus category are getting most of my attention. I write this today not just as an InkFlip update but as a reminder to all entrepreneurs that there is a higher goal in raising money than just getting a check in the bank. Maslow would say, "Get the check and, if you have a choice, get a blue-chip investor to write it!"

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