All-nighters, idea dead-end, investment worries – startup environment can be pretty grim sometimes. Let’s take a break with an imaginary scenario. You went to pitch to a certain investor, who turned down your idea (after all, isn’t that what investors do?!). But the catch is the way he did it. This guy had a sense of humor, and depending on what his humor style was, you’d be turned down accordingly.
So let’s take a moment to look at this whole investment game from another set of lenses.
Sarcastic: The investor finishes reading your report and keeps it aside. He looks lost in thought. Finally, he takes a sip of the Korean green tea he’s been having, and says, “You know, if this is a business plan, then I’m the lost treasure of Arabia!”
Witty: The investor finishes watching your presentation, takes a long breath and relaxes in his seat. Then he raises an eyebrow and says, “Bull’s eye! I love your idea. You guys are really ahead of your time!” A smile starts to appear on your face, but the investor quickly adds, “Come back to me in . . . like, 20 years, and we’ll see.”
Slapstick: As soon as the investor finishes reading your pitch, he start laughing out of control. “Oh! My! God!”, he says, as you and your partner look on in bewilderment. The laughter continues as he flails his arms about, shooting off everything from pens to files like missiles. The laughter rises to a crescendo, at which point the investor falls off his seat laughing, and passes out. And you, have no idea whether to laugh or weep.
Philosophical: Your presentation is over. The investor looks thoughtful, his eyes gazing at something in the distance. A few more minutes pass. Finally he says, “Let me put it this way. If God were to offer you a choice between happiness and success, what would you choose?” You are alarmed. This looks like a trick question, but you have to answer. You think, think, think, but nothing comes to mind. Finally, you manage to mutter, “Happiness, I guess.” “I thought that much,” the investor says and leans towards you. “So this is my advice – drop this idea and use your life instead to collect happiness. Because I, at least, don’t see this idea becoming successful.”
Self-deprecating: The investor is nodding his head in approval. At length he says, “You know, this is a wonderful idea. So wonderful, so, lovely, so pure, in fact, that a selfish, money-minded worm-in-the-apple like me doesn’t deserve to even touch the pages it’s printed on.” He throws the report back at you, “Here, please save it from my dirty hands.”
Can you feel that sinking feeling already? So can we, and God forbid this happens to any startup ever. But laughing off your worries is a great medicine, and we could all use some catharsis from time to time.
Know any other style of humor investors use or might use? We’re all ears!