PAUL GRAHAM: You Don’t Have To Be A Con Man To Raise Money


If you haven’t yet mastered the art of snake-oil salesmanship, Paul Graham of Y Combinator has some good news for you: you don’t have to be a good liar to raise startup capital. The key is to “make the truth good, then just tell it.”

In a recent blog post, Graham lays out a few ground rules for how to raise funding, his core message being that if you let your company do the talking — with strong financials, strong user base and a strong team — you’ll have to worry less about delivering an astounding pitch.

The pitch is important, of course, and to this extent, Graham implores young entrepreneurs to become “formidable.” Being “formidable,” according to Graham, means exuding the confidence — not cockiness — that you can overcome any obstacles in your way. Graham says many entrepreneurs in their 20s are still keeping their wings folded, albeit subconsciously, and following their years of education by being cooperative teammates. They are afraid to be conquerors, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn.

Similarly, young founders shouldn’t feel forced to mislead investors about how far along they are in funding — especially if certain investors are more curious about who an entrepreneur knows rather than what their company does. Inherently, the mediocre investors often miss the biggest funding opportunities, so shoot for the big fish, and remember: all startups are long shots. You just have to convince investors that, come boom or bust in the larger economy, you’ll end up a winner.