How does a business get noticed?
It's going to sound simple, but: Be unconventional. One company --
-- the way he got our attention was he sent us a message through Twitter. He literally said 'Hey Lightbank, check us out.'
What you should never do is show up at the office without an appointment. That actually scares people. I don't think you want to start a business meeting that way.
So you recommend using social media avenues to get attention?
For small businesses particularly, you're busy running your business. Given the relevance of social media and the ability to really generate business -- we invested close to seven figures in a company that really started with a 140-character message -- there is a lot of value in that. Times are changing. We generally like to see people who are direct.
What are some concerns or questions that generally come up when evaluating a company?
Similar to what I said earlier, we want to see passion and what the person is doing to demonstrate his passion for the business. We often get people who submit seven different business plans. It's difficult to be passionate about all of them.
Has the business owner taken out a second mortgage or borrowed money from friends? These are signs that the person truly believes in what he is doing.
Also, does the CEO have a really good understanding of what the key drivers of his business are? Are they focusing on all the right things? Does he know the unit economics?
Being well-versed, being intelligent, having studied the industry -- that obviously helps. All those things are great signs for us.
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
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