We get a TON of applications every time we put together a CapitalLounge event. While most of the applications have some degree of merit, and eventually get accepted, there are many that don’t. Historically, we have a non-invitation rate of anywhere from 20-30%. Despite the enormous level of detail that we’ve published as to our selection criteria and process, invariably, we get a flood of emails the week or so leading up to the event with people appealing and arguing with us (or trying to) about why their deal was rejected.
Here is a tongue-in-cheek look at some reasons why the event applications for some entrepreneurs and investors get rejected. If you don’t find any of this at all funny, then you most likely fall into one of these categories.
We can’t bloody well deliver a confirmation (or rejection) email to you if you can’t even type in your own email address properly. Please be sure to double-check your email address before submitting a company profile or application! There have been some really interesting looking startups that have excluded themselves because we just couldn’t reach them.
The Gettysburg Haiku Tapes
Your “pitch” comes across as a rather arcane series of mutterings that is reminiscent of an amalgam of Haiku, the Gettysburg Address, and the WaterGate Tapes.
Four score and seven
I was not a criminal
You must invest now
Seriously – here are a few gems that were rejected (no, I’m not kidding):
COMPANY works closely with our clients to ensure they are dealing with only the best.
We innovate technologies to creation for selected markets within the U.S. and abroad.
We are a leading consumer products company that is seeking angel funding.
Our firm is about MAJOR ROI while innovating the solutions that are needed.
We need angel funding to get our first customers that will be Microsoft and possibly Oracle.
We are a subscription based SaaS company that is vertically focused for maximum ROI.
We are passionate about the overall benefits of our product.
COMPANY is the innovator that will bring many industries to the next level.
Apologies to those who actually submitted these pitches – I was careful not to reveal your company name. If you recognize any of these pitches, well … now you know at least one reason why you were rejected. That’s progress in and of itself!
The good news is, these types of pitches are outliers – our educational efforts with PitchCamp (for example) seem to be of value to the broader community, which is cool.
The Great Zorba says you are a SaaS company, no?
If you decide that providing a “short pitch” is not worth your time and leave it blank, or you completely half-ass it, well, you aren’t likely going to get approved. We aren’t mind readers, and we don’t have time to chase you all over the internet to try and figure out what it is you do. Luckily for us, The Great Zorba doesn’t approve CapitalLounge applications; we do.
Meaningless Wall of Text Syndrome
We ask all entrepreneurs who have attended CapitalLounge before to provide a brief “progress report” when they apply to the CapitalLounge event. The idea is simple. Deals that seem to making tangible progress in between events are going to score higher and move ahead on the list. Those that are stale, or just flopping around waiting for someone to write them a check, are going to get rejected. If your “progress report” on the application is a copy/paste text version of your business plan, or doesn’t actually mention any recent milestones for your venture, you turn our vetting process (at least in terms of looking at your deal) into a very simple one. Fail.
According to GoDaddy, my Venture is Coming Soon!
If you have no web site, and you are using an email address of biz...@hotmail.com, you have relegated the status of your deal to a split second, one-way decision on our part. Sorry, but in this day and age, there is no excuse. Even a simple teaser web site goes a long way. And get your own domain for email, for the love of Pete.
Stealth Company That Will Change the World!
If you are in stealth mode, we understand. Sometimes you don’t want to reveal what you’re doing until you are ready. We get it. But if you apply as a “stealth mode” company, you have to give us something better than these for your pitch:
Early stage stealth startup.
Changing the way we work.
Early idea still.
Mulling my next trick.
While we “get” the importance of stealth mode at times, we also “get” our need to figure out what it is that you do. Otherwise, we’ll just assume you’re a job seeker, consultant, service-provider, etc., and you get a quick trip to File 13. And no, we aren’t going to sign an NDA in order to learn about what you do (yes, we get asked that from time to time).
Everyone Will Want to Buy a Thin Llama Wearing Raybans!
If your startup focuses on establishing a chain of weight loss clinics, Llama ranches, or Sunglass Huts, the closest you’re going to get to our event will be the coffee shop across the street. Come on, already. Have you not read the event details? The blog posts? The rants and raves on our podcast about the criteria for getting in? If you use the words franchise, consulting, clients, strip mall (“mall” in general), or importer, that is almost a guaranteed rejection. Nothing wrong with those businesses, mind you. Just not a fit for CapitalLounge. Talk to the SBA or your bank. They are probably going to turn you down, because that is what banks are supposed to do. But that should be your first stop.
And for the love of Pete – don’t send an email telling us how “we just don’t get it” because we didn’t put your REI or franchise opportunity on a pedestal. Trust me. We do. That is why you aren’t allowed to come.
Have you been injured on the job? Suffered a car accident?
If you are an attorney, accountant, consultant, etc. , wow … you must be completely incapable of comprehending simple English. We realize that lots of entrepreneurs (would-be or otherwise) work for service providers. We really do. But when you apply to attend our event as an “entrepreneur”, and then we research you online, only to find out that you really work for a marketing consulting company, a financial services advisory firm, etc., we have to stick true to our vision and reject your application.
Additionally, we have to be respectful of our small stalwart band of sponsors who pay us money to offset our costs. We give them exclusivity in terms of attending the event (e.g. we have a legal sponsor, and they are the only law firm in the room). Works out well for everyone, except you.
Um. Jimmy works for our startup. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
If we reject someone’s application to attend, and then you apply and list that person as your “guest” – not so good. There is a reason we try and vet the attendees for this event. If you can’t be respectful of this, then you can’t come and play.
Confucious say “man who have bad reputation, doesn’t get to attend CapitalLounge”
If you are known around town as a slimeball, predator, shyster, trickster, slickster, spinmeister, or just someone who “loves me some me”, you can sit outside and pat yourself on the back all night long – because, well, this is America, and you can do that if you so desire. But if you’ve ever taken advantage of an entrepreneur or investor, asked people to pay to pitch, have a reputation for taking but not giving, provide introductions for a “fee”, or served hard time because you got caught up in one of Mike Blake’s “schemes”, you aren’t getting in.
You don’t know me, but I was the guy who invested first in Google.
If you claim to be an investor of any level, but:
… you can sit outside and invest in the guy who is patting himself on the back, while he tries to take advantage of the entrepreneur peddling the Llama ranch PPM. I will admit, VCs are pretty easy to vet. If you are a VC, you have a web site, and have raised money from LPs. If you are a “corporate venture” type – we’ve heard of your company. If you claim to be an angel investor, well, you better come strong with your pitch and application, or be referred to us by someone – because out of the box, we just assume angels are service providers, consultants, etc. It’s much quicker than playing the Google game for 30 minutes trying to figure you out.
Oh man, I’m so messed up.
Any combination of one or more of the above is going to be an insta-fail. We’re happy to be proven wrong …. we just haven’t been yet.