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Asia CommentTaipan

Teaching ABCs with the birds and the bees

Truly selling a product is about putting your money where your mouth is.

Not so long ago, I was tasked with taking a young south Asian education company on a non-deal roadshow in the US. It seemed like an exciting prospect, introducing a rare education offering from the region to US investors. I was certain the passion of the company’s leaders would come across in their pitches.

Before our first meeting in New York, I took the company’s chief financial officer out to dinner to prepare him for the week. He was a nice chap, albeit a bit quiet, and I tried to get him to tell me a bit about himself to incorporate his personal story into the investor meetings. If you’re going to sell education, you have to really push your passion for raising “tomorrow’s leaders". 

“Do you have any children?” I asked him.

“Eleven” was his quick response.

This seemed perfect. As the father of 11 children, surely he must be personally benefiting from his company’s offerings.

“Where do they study?” I inquired.

“They’re homeschooled by my wife.”

This could still be interesting, I thought. Perhaps he and his wife are education gurus, shaping the next generation through their unique approach to learning.

Naturally, I asked about his wife’s background. “Is she a teacher?”

“No, she writes erotic novels.”

At that, my jaw dropped. I racked my brain for situations in which having a wife proficient in soft-core writing while teaching your 11 children at home would make for a good introductory story for an education company.

I quickly decided against having the man share any personal details during our meetings, fearing what investor questions could follow. Perhaps boring pitches are sometimes the best way to go.

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