To make this mark, all actors in the ecosystem have specific roles to embrace in order to expand access to finance—a crucial piece of successful entrepreneurial ecosystems. From interviews with nearly 20 influential Lebanese actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem (including VCs, incubators, entrepreneurs, etc.), it is unsurprising that funders (particularly VCs) have an important, immediate role to play in the development of the Lebanese funding landscape. Below are key actions which emerged in interviews:
1) Build a team that includes ex-entrepreneurs: VCs should make sure they have a good mix of investment professionals AND ex-entrepreneurs on their teams. “VCs need more people who have started their own business and have walked in our shoes,” comments Rabih Nassar, founder of Element^n. Currently, entrepreneurs often believe that VCs do not have enough people with the relevant personal experience to provide strategic guidance. VCs should make sure they are developing well-balanced teams that include people who have built a business and understand what it takes.
2) Be transparent: VCs can be more transparent in simply explaining what they are looking for. By putting out sample term sheets, similar to what Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures posts on his blog, companies will get a sense of what they are signing up for. Similarly, VCs can include templates for the types of presentations and information they are looking for in pitches along with sample financial models. “They also need to talk about the investments they have made and how they are doing,” comments Samer Karam of Seeqnce, one of the few accelerators in Lebanon. By being more transparent about their requirements and their performance, both VCs and entrepreneurs can save a lot of time.
To learn more about where Lebanon is now, as well as read recommendations for how it can fully capitalize on its bright future, please read the full report here.