Investors & Customers – sometimes there’s an early stage disconnect

Giff Constable Aprizi, startups, venture capital

peHub just wrote an article titled “VCs love Blippy, but do users?” Some of you correctly guessed that Blippy was the company I was referring to when I wrote, “Don’t let another startup throw you off your game”. And it’s true, there are a lot of VCs really excited about that company.

Aprizi, Blippy, Bynamite, Swipely and a number of others are all interested in learning about consumer purchase activity. We’re all taking slightly different approaches to getting there, both in terms of how we get the data, as well as the value proposition we’re offering consumers in exchange. None of these are companies to underestimate by any means.

Still, as Aprizi takes its beta baby steps, I am starting to discover a disconnect on value proposition: what potential investors thought would be most exciting, and what consumers are actually responding to.*

Our target customer is female, aged 21 to 45. As has recently been written about on tech blogs, this is not exactly a mirror image of your typical early stage tech investor. Now, Liz and I haven’t actually tried to raise money yet, but I am curious to see how the gender gap affects that process.

It is easier to raise money *before traction* if you have a big win already under your belt, or if you have built something the investor falls in love with, i.e. something that scratches their own itch. What will the lack of female investors mean for us?

I can say that while bootstrapping has increased spousal stress, it certainly has made it easier for us to be nimble and focus entirely on the customer. We don’t have to convince anyone else, or explain why we’ve changed from our original pitch. We just test, learn and improve, test, learn and improve.

Even though we’re going to need to sell investors on what we’re doing, right now the most important thing is staying focused on the customer. Focus on the customer teaches us something new every day. Focus on the customer will drive results, and nothing is sexier than results.

*This disconnect cannot entirely be blamed on gender differences, of course, since we’re also seeing a gap between what people have said they want in conversations versus what they’re actually doing on the website. We’re still gathering data.