MoviePass Cofounder Stacy Spikes on Not Taking No for an Answer and the Tools That Changed His Fundraising Process

During a fireside chat at WeWork Lab’s Dumbo Heights launch, Stacy Spikes, cofounder of MoviePass, spoke about the tools he uses to stay organized, how to turn no’s into yes’s, and creating more diversity in who gets funding from venture capitalists. Here are seven key takeaways.

Not taking ‘no’ for an answer
“I think the people in this room have a part of their brain that they don’t quite hear the word no correctly. You have to have that. There’s some people in the world, they hear the word no and they go ‘okay.’ And that's it for them. Bea Smith used to say, 'you have to stand on a mountain of no’s to reach the one yes.' And that's really what I’ve found: there is no such thing as no. They’re refining what yes looks like because everytime you walk in a room and they say ‘well, that doesn't work’ or ‘this doesn’t work,’ it’s the same way a knife gets sharpened against a stone and eventually what they’ve done is sharpened your pitch so incredibly that you walk in a room and there’s nothing you’ve ever heard that hasn’t been thrown at you that they’re gonna stump you. And at that point you’re in the yes realm. It’s getting to that yes realm that’s the point. So there’s really no such thing as no, there's ‘yes but you’re not there yet.’ And that’s an important piece. Because I think just not hearing no and going ‘well they don’t know what they’re talking about’ is not good enough. You actually have to take that and find out ‘well how do I make this better’ and you take away their no’s.” (When you do encounter a "no", here's how to respond in a productive way.)

The tool he swears by for fundraising
“Trello has been incredible for my fundraising process. When I create my Trello board and I’ll put all of my prospects in the left column and the goal is to get as many of them to the funded column or to the no column. You wake up in the morning and it’s a simple idea: move as many pegs that way.”

"If your data is off, then you’re just believing your own hype and you’re lying to yourself."

Why data is king
“Sumner Redstone has this quote where he says ‘you're not wrong if your information is right.’...If your data is correct, that’s the point. So when you know your numbers are right, then really it’s the education of a market that you’re pulling along. Now the truth is, if your data is off, then you’re just believing your own hype and you’re lying to yourself. I try and make sure that there's people that I slide that data to and say, ‘look at it and tell me if you think I’m crazy.’ And it's good if they’re not in your space and they don’t know and they look at the numbers and go, ‘no, that adds up.’ Because if your calculator says two plus two is eight, it needs to say four. And if it says four then you keep running and you keep going.”

"You need that thing where in the middle of the night, there’s no more money, you’re dead, game’s over, it's done, nobody wants to hear from you, when you get to that point, there has to be something else."

On needing a purpose
“I think a form of faith is really important because you gotta have something that's not on the page. There’s something calling you that you believe you were put on this earth to do and you believe it in a way that, whatever form of that you want to believe, but you need that thing where in the middle of the night, there’s no more money, you’re dead, game’s over, it's done, nobody wants to hear from you, when you get to that point, there has to be something else. So I work in the movie industry, you know the movie where the hero, you're going ‘he’s dead, he can’t get up,’ and then a finger moves? Well, it’s that. What is that? I don’t know but you need that be there.”

How he structures his time
“I break up my week. I start my Monday and Tuesday on things that I have to get done or projects. Wednesday through Friday is either on the road or chasing money. People don’t like to meet on Mondays. Monday is always a funky day so I don’t chase that. Thursday is when I do finance because I don’t want to do my numbers on Friday because I get depressed. And so I break up the week and I do certain things on certain days and it makes it easier because there are certain things that suck and you don’t want to do them, but you’re not stuck doing them your whole week.” (Check out this post for more time-management tips from highly successful people.)

The tool that gives insight on what investors want to hear about
“Here’s my process. Teaser deck—so if I have a 15 slide deck or 20 slide deck if I’m really pushing it, I’m sending out something that’s three or four slides. With DocSend, when they open it, it lets you see how long they spent on each slide. Let’s say there’s the concept, there’s the team, and there’s the rough financials. If I see they’re really focusing on the financials, I know when I get them on the phone, I know what area I need to spend time on. If I see they really were spending time on the team, I psychologically know I want to talk about a strong team. So DocSend lets you see that and it gives you a little foreshadowing to what they’re thinking. Then if I send the long deck, it gives me the same thing. And if they didn’t open it, I know what my email needs to say. It needs to say ‘I’m not sure if you got a chance to see it,’ when I know they didn’t open it, or ‘hey, I wanted to get your thoughts and follow up and set up a meeting.’ And it’s a great tool to help me in that process because you also don’t want people that are going to waste your time.”

"I can’t go in the mirror before I walk into that conference room going ‘okay you’re black, but you can do it.’ I have to walk in going ‘I’ve got a great idea that you should fund.’"

On how to increase diversity in who gets funded in the startup space
“First off I think some of that has to do with pipeline. The numbers at the top of the funnel will work their way down the funnel, so that’s one part of it—there's not enough people running at the gate. The second part is, you have to ignore it. I can’t go in the mirror before I walk into that conference room going ‘okay you’re black, but you can do it.’ I have to walk in going ‘I’ve got a great idea that you should fund.’... You just have to run at the gate and ignore it and it doesn’t matter at the end of the day because you might be that person that gets through.”

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