High-Impact Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs and investors unite at pre-Summit Investor Network event

The 2013 Endeavor Entrepreneur Summit kicked off with a half-day Investor Network event, where Endeavor Entrepreneurs had the opportunity to learn from and network with investors from Silicon Valley and around the world.

Hosted at Greenberg Traurig in San Francisco, the day kicked off with a panel called “Financing Growth–From Startup to IPO,” where three experts shared best practices around successfully raising capital throughout a company’s life cycle. The panelists were Steve Alper, Managing Director and Head of Investment Services for Barclays; Santiago Subotovsky, an Endeavor Entrepreneur and principal at Emergence Capital; and Dave McClure, Founding Partner at 500 Startups.

While the entrepreneurs heard tips and insights (some of which are highlighted below), a separate “investor session” convened investors from global growth markets. Investors from Argentina and Mexico to Brazil and Turkey shared best practices and discussed investment trends and opportunities.

Later, at a customized speed networking session, Endeavor organized one-on-one meetings between investors and entrepreneurs. Networking continued over lunch at the former Williams Sonoma Facility, where founders and funders participated in a friendly cook-off!

Highlighted below are some of the top entrepreneur “tips” (paraphrased) from the investor network panel…

1. We don’t want to hear about companies that do a little bit of everything. That’s difficult to scale. Running one business is hard enough, running multiple ones is harder, and getting a liquidity event for a do-everything business is hardest of all. (Santiago)
2. When pitching an investor, make sure not to talk only about your own background and the background of the team. Make sure to talk about your business! Sounds simple, but ignored too often. (Steve)

3. When pitching, make sure to do background research on the investors. Don’t pitch from a script. Customize your pitch to their personality, needs, and unique investment interests. Also, pay close attention to their body language and gestures, and even use standard sales techniques such as using leading questions to get them to reveal their interests. (Dave)

4. When choosing an investor, too often entrepreneurs focus on the brand name of the funds and not the individuals at those funds that they’ll actually be working with. Remember, you’re not building a relationship with a place so much as with a person. (Santiago)

5. If you need funding, don’t just think about VCs but other sources — for instance, family offices. However, with family offices, keep in mind that they’re often laser-focused on a particular “niche” or industry, so make sure your business fits into their wheelhouse. (Steve)

6. Thinking about going public? One of the biggest challenges is corporate governance and oversight; if you’re seriously thinking of going public, prepare yourself by operating like a public company in the lead-up. (Santiago)

7. Most investors in Silicon Valley don’t pay too much attention beyond the Valley and places like New York. If you’re a company abroad, seek out investors with matching regional interests (though admittedly, that’s easier said than done). (Dave)

8. No surprise: recently there’s been a pull-back in investor interest for consumer e-commerce companies, because so many have been seen as overvalued. A lot of this apprehension is unfounded. But like it or not, the bar is higher on an expectations basis; there is less toleration of risk with e-commerce companies. (Dave)

9. When you pitch to investors, don’t forget to connect your vision and passion to the commercial application. Too many entrepreneurs forget this. (Steve)

10. Think big. Especially as an Endeavor Entrepreneur, if you think big enough and take advantage of the Endeavor network and resources, you’ll be in good shape. Also, take advantage of local frictions and advantages of your local emerging market as a way of beating out multinational competitors at their own game. (Santiago)

11. Most U.S. entrepreneurs aren’t very good at going global. As an international entrepreneur, use this to your advantage by seizing opportunities for “copycat” business models. And in the end, they’re rarely copycats anyway since you’re tailoring these concepts in a unique way to your local context. (Dave)

12. When I listen to an entrepreneur pitch, I want to hear past tense, not future tense. Tell me what you’ve already done. The way you executed in the last six to 12 months is more important often than your five- to 10-year future projections. (Dave)

13. Endeavor Entrepreneurs, make sure to support Endeavor’s efforts. The folks at Endeavor provide amazing support. They open doors to the world. They’re a tremendous organization all over the world and you’re lucky to have an organization like this guide you on your way. Make sure to pay it forward by giving back. (Dave)

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