October 7, 2008

A Directory is Not a Network

FundingUniverse was conceived as a network where entrepreneurs could find appropriate investors and investors could find a lot of deals that have gone through some pre-screening to meet their criteria. Investors and entrepreneurs, can maximize the value of the site by using it as it was designed, providing a little, simple information when the site asks for it. Both groups habitually leave vital information out of their profiles and in doing so decrease the value of the FundingUniverse network for all involved.

Investors often fill in their contact information but leave their business information blank. They will just not fill out what types of businesses they are interested in or how much they are looking to invest. Would they be willing to invest nationally or do they want to stay within their state? What stage of companies and what kind of entrepreneurs are they looking for? In other words, they don’t fill out the very information that would make their contact information relevant. Without this information in their profile, an investor can search the site and hope to find what they are looking for, but it is almost impossible for someone to find them with the kind of deal they would be interested in. It’s like setting up a profile on Linkedin and not telling anyone what you do or have done. It’s of no use to anyone else so it’s really not of much use to you either. Your entry has become only slightly more valuable to the community than a white page listing would be and everyone suffers for it.

Entrepreneurs make similar mistakes when filling out their profiles. They leave blanks in their business summary or, just as bad if not worse, enter something like “see business plan.” This tells potential investors that you are either too lazy to fill in the information or just don’t get the concept of what FundingUniverse is for. The investor is also forced to download a document just to understand the basic facts of your business. I am just speculating but I am pretty sure most won’t.

This could be taken as a test of your marketing skills. Your potential investors (read “customers”) first contact with you is likely to be your page on FundingUniverse. There, they are almost certainly going to read your summary or watch your video before doing anything else. If you loose them there it doesn’t make any difference how good your business plan is because they will have written you off before ever getting to it. To avoid this, fill out your summary in as factual and concise a way as possible and then ask someone who isn’t familiar with your business to read it and see how good an understanding they get from it.

Membership in FundingUniverse is growing weekly. As more and more investors and entrepreneurs join the site, it becomes harder and harder for them to achieve their goals without comprehensive, well thought out profiles.