This was an incredible interview for me as I got a chance to talk in-depth with one of my heroes in technology, Paul Judge, Ph.D.
Paul lives in Atlanta, a city I love and lived in for two years while I was following interests in the music business, and he is the ultimate tech entrepreneur, inventor, investor, and engineer. He has founded several companies that grew and resulted in successful acquisitions.
Dr. Judge is cofounder and Executive Chairman of Pindrop Security, provider of phone anti-fraud and authentication solutions, founded in 2011. He is also a cofounder of Monsieur, the creator of the robotic bartender.
He is a founding partner at Tech Square Labs a company building studio based in Atlanta. The first company incubated by @TechSquare is Rescour which provides automated market research for commercial real estate.
Dr. Judge currently serves as Chief Research Officer and VP at Barracuda Networks.
During this chat, which starts at 29:48, I asked Paul about investing in startups, and best practices for pitching investors. He gave me a formula every startup team should follow.
The below should be followed in order.
1. Be convinced yourself
Don’t look for validation if you don’t first have conviction. Before you pitch an investor, you should first be confident that you have a great idea, and sell the investment opportunity from a point of passionate certainty. Sure, be open to alternative views and ideas – because you could be flat-out wrong about an assumption, but not being self-possessed that you’re onto something big is a big red flag.
2. Convince a teammate
Building a startup is hard. Going it alone is exponentially harder. Not having a team is a sign of several things, the following are just a few: 1. You couldn’t convince anyone to come along. 2. You think you can do it alone. 3. You can’t lead.
Each of these are huge caution signals to investors.
Think of it as fantasy football. Who would you want on your team? Figuring out how to convince them to join you on your quest is one of the pinnacle responsibilities of a CEO. Have a vision talented people can get behind. “If you want to convince the brightest minds, they don’t want to work on your itty bitty problem. They want to change the world.”
Nobody does it alone. Every great business person in history had a team behind her, even if you didn’t know their names.
3. Convince your customers
Investors invest to fuel growth. They don’t want their money back. They want 100x their money back.
You don’t have to have a million users, but you should be on a clear path to hyper-growth.