The Art of Doing It Yourself by Vivek Wadhwa

You don’t have to wait for venture capitalists or angel investors to lend a hand. Follow these tips to get the ball rolling on your own. If you have a great idea that can change the world, then bootstrap your way until you can prove it. Funding will come just when you don’t need it.

I founded two tech companies, co-produced a Hollywood film, and helped raise close to $100 million in private and public financing. Over the years, I’ve also mentored dozens of entrepreneurs. There always seems to be a catch-22 — you need seed financing but no one will give you a cent until you have a marketable product. Ironically, raising millions of dollars is always easier than raising thousands.

BEYOND IDEAS.  A myth propagated by business schools is that the way to build a venture is to create a great business plan, perfect your elevator pitch, and present this to venture capitalists. If that doesn’t work, you knock on the door of angel investors.

Ask any entrepreneur who has called on venture capitalists and they will likely tell you that it is almost impossible to even get calls returned. If you get lucky and are invited to present your idea, the due-diligence process will drag on for many months while you mortgage your assets and survive on hope. If you do hit the jackpot, you are required to trade away your first born in exchange for an investment.

To be fair, most business plans don’t deserve funding. Venture capitalists receive hundreds of plans every week, and few are worth the paper they are printed on.

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