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Lost in Translation

An American in Paris… or London and Berlin might face the same issue. Language. What language do you use when talking to investors, and what about conversations with consumers?

Our demo day is fast approaching, tune into our pitch on the 27th of September! We’ll be presenting alongside several dozen other businesses from Entrepreneur First, so we are refining our pitch and editing our slide deck. Getting the language right is proving tricky. Investors want us to tell them that we’re innovative and disruptors who will make them money, but consumers don’t really care about that. Typically consumers don’t want something new, they want something old(and familiar with) but updated. A slightly better version of something they already like.


We want to find a safe ground where these to audiences overlap, a language that is appealing to both.But I feel like we’re working at opposing extremes. Above all, we value being open, transparent, and direct with everyone. It’s also important that we don’t overstate what we can do. It is so easy at this stage for an entrepreneur to over-sell in the process of creating a narrative arc to sell the story behind your business. I’m a fairly practical person, and so we face a very real risk that we impress neither audience and fall flat in our face!


Same language, different worlds


But we don't think that is going to happen because to key to finding language that satisfies both audiences is to deeply understand them both, and we are working overtime anyways already to do that. You will never win over every investor, but the secret is that you don't need to; you just need to find the right investor.


For example, in Silicon Valley, many investors are focused on growth at all costs and care little for accounting profitability in early stage companies. As long as you are acquiring customers quickly and affordably, figuring out how to make money out of them in the future doesn't worry them. Whereas here in Europe, investors have a lower risk appetite. They care about revenue and profitability early on, making it harder for small businesses to get to critical mass.


We believe this stems from the unique risk-taking culture in Silicon Valley, a big part of which is historically lacking in Europe. Luckily for us, Entrepreneur First are bringing some of that attitude across the pond. They talk about having a Honey Badger culture. You have to be scrappy, relentless and not stop to complain until your culture and business works. I don’t think enough people here have taken that attitude on board, but through the strength of EF's investor relationships with the world's biggest venture capital funds, we are confident we will find the right investors to back our growth strategy.


Time to pitch


Ultimately we have to remember that each of the constituent parts of our community have different goals and emotions. Investors care about not losing money first, and then making money. The entrepreneur is all about growth, not profit. Ultimately we need to find something that consumers can identify with, even if it is brand new. Simple task!

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