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No one funds ideas anymore.

If you’re planning to raise money, your goal is to be the least-worst pitch that an investor’s heard in any given time period. You don’t have to be the best.

Let that sink in for a minute. I’m dead serious.

I’m sure we all know “idea guys” – people that have been talking about an idea for a long time but haven’t ever built it. (These people are notorious for hanging around networking events every week and repeating the same ideas week after week.) Don’t be that person.

At the very least, hack together a “ghetto, but useful” prototype and get it in front of users. Better yet, get that prototype in front of potential customers. If you can’t get a prototype together for some reason, then pull together some slides / visuals and put that in front of people.

Just. Ship. Something.

In the worst case, that shows others — including investors — that you can hustle. In the best case, you’ve gotten at least one person you don’t know to buy something from you and that shows others you know how to build a business.

Jason Calacanis said it best:

Simply put, showing up without product today is like showing up without a business plan in 1995 — you simply won’t be taken seriously by most investors.

On a related note, come to the table with the right founding team: you need some combination of the hacker, hustler and designer on the team.

NOOB MISTAKE: avoid outsourcing any of your early work unless you have solid experience with that model. You’ll probably pay too much and, worse, you’ll scare off a huge set of investors that avoid early stage companies that outsource too early.