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How to Stay True to Yourself and Raise Money for Your Passion Project

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I recently discovered that a few people I know are having a really hard time when they try to raise money for their passion projects, which prompted me to think critically about the psychology behind this process.

Over the years, my twin sister, Radha, and I have managed to raise over $4 million for our various passion projects (Slice NY—now called Wild, Super Sprowtz, Wild Las Vegas, Thinx). I remember when I first started setting up investor meetings, I was nervous, I fidgeted a lot, I forgot some key points, didn’t have all of the answers on the spot, and I just wasn’t myself.

After many failed attempts at one-on-one meetings in every setting possible (coffee shop, conference room, their office, my office, etc.), I took some time to evaluate my methodology. I realized that the most glaring problem in all of these instances was simply that I wasn’t myself at all.

The sparkle and fire I usually have when I am with my close friends just disappeared in these meetings. The way I talked with confidence about my business idea with my friends was replaced with cracking voice and jumbled thoughts. Why was this happening?

That’s when everything became clear. I needed to put myself in a place that made me most authentically me while I was pitching to investors so that my best self came out. I realized that I felt my most authentic when my sister and I host our friends at our house, just like we used to host people growing up with our family.

Key steps to raise money and stay true to yourself:

  1. Organize a fundraising dinner party for anyone and everyone you think may possibly be interested in your idea or people who believed in you. The dinner party is free so it makes it easy for people to say yes.
  2. Do not cook the meal yourself and do not run around trying to make the food while hosting people. Go through to hire chefs inexpensively so you could focus entirely on connecting with your guests.
  3. Invite a couple of key close friends who make you feel comfortable.
  4. For the rest of the invitees, invite interesting people so they can connect with each other at your dinner party and build friendships through you.
  5. Host it a really cool venue so that it gives people the “ooh, ahhh” factor.
  6. Bring in someone else to give your pitch (preferably with a British accent) so that you can relax and focus on being your self (unless you are uber comfortable presenting your idea to a room full of people staring at you).
  7. Create a postcard that prompts all of the invitees to pledge their support to the mission. Place this postcard on the tables during dessert, which gives the perfect lead to follow up with the potential investor.

At the events, you want peer pressure to work in your favor. You can do this by getting everyone in the room smiling and nodding at your project and wanting to collectively support your project. All of this worked beautifully and I was able to raise money quickly.

If you like this and want to learn more about starting and launching your passion project, check out “Do Cool Shi*t”, releasing August 6 by Harper Collins Business.

Click here to ask Levo mentor Warren Buffett a question about his career in finance!

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