Part V: Credible Proof

The story of Blake Scholl. Blake finds impressive people to add credibility to his vision.

Part V: Credible Proof
Part V: Credible proof
Part V: Credible proof
Be careful. If all you talk about is vision, you'll sound like a TED talk, not a founder. Michael Seibel called Blake out during YC pitch practice, "do you have anything that's real? You sound like you're full of shit."
Blake needed to make "real progress that also looked like progress." Here's how he started: - he recruited impressive advisors - he built quick prototypes - he pre-sold early customers What early progress could you make that would build credibility?
Blake asked the most impressive people he could find to lend their names and expertise. He recruited both technical advisors (like the head of Skunk Works) and commercial advisors (like the former CFO of Virgin America).
Advisors gave him credibility but he needed customers. YC made it clear, "show up on demo day with sales or your goose is cooked." > I remember thinking, how in the world am I going to do that. I'll be lucky to sell to Lufthansa in nine years, let alone nine weeks.
Blake scanned a short list of prospects. Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Galactic, stood out. He set his sights on getting an LOI from him. Who are your dream advisors or early customers? Who's most likely to bite?
He had an advisor who knew Branson. The advisor sent an email: "hey, the Boom guys are gonna be in Mojave for the spaceship rollout, you should meet with them." Then they sent a cheeky email to the Virgin Galactic team: "hey we're in town to see Richard, can we come to the rollout?"
Finally, they got 15 minutes with Branson. They told him they didn't need his money, just a commitment. If they had him as a customer, they could get money elsewhere. He said he'd think about it. Then the night before Demo Day, Virgin Galactic emailed an LOI for the first ten planes. Blake was ecstatic.
The biggest sales advice we got during YC was, "Be persistent. Be more persistent than you think you should be... When you have that feeling that [you're being too annoying] it means you're probably doing it right." And that worked.
To sell to other airlines, Blake had to figure out what airline CEOs really needed. CEOs certainly didn't need some Boom promise and a 20-year roadmap. They would have retired by then.
Blake discovered that the CEOs wanted branding and option value. They wanted to market themselves as the innovative brand and let customers know they'd be the first in supersonic. They wanted insurance that their competitors wouldn't beat them to it. What do your dream partners want? How can you give it to them?

Story From

YC Founders Collection