NYCSeed‘s managing director Owen Davis came by the Rose Tech Incubator this week to give a talk on what investors look for in startup’s. Some of the key points Owen mentioned that I took away from the talk are below. (NYCSeed only invests in the 5 NY borrows).
To anyone doing a startup, “Time matters”. Owen mentioned that committing large amounts of time to R and D is a bad mistake.
Timing has to be in your favor, things have to be aligned. Your technology and the timing is key. You can build something great but is there a demand for it?
Owen recommends 2 person teams, I hear this magic number a lot, google, yahoo, etc. Startups with 2 founders is the magic number. It shows a demonstrations team work, difference in dynamic. With a team of two you have a sounding board.
Another key thing is to have a prototype complete.
Showing you have tech leads on as founders is the DNA of the company it is important. Moment by moment technology changes.
Angels and VCs like to see a good sized market, show a clear path to revenue.
TYPE OF STARTUP COMPANIES
-Hard to invest in these
–e.g.: Gaming companies
–e.g.: iPhone apps
–e.g.: YouTube lost 40 or 50 million a year
-not real innovation
-look at market
-build an application
e.g.: google’s rank algorithm
e.g.: Advertising space, customer segmentation of ads
Investors believe or don’t believe in the innovation you have.
Some companies have pricing power, if coke raised it’s prices they would be ok.
If a copper wire company raised it’s prices it would take a toll on them
Some examples of companies that have a little higher prices are:
zappos.com has customer loyalty.
Amazon charges more then others.
Wholefoods charges much more then others.
Having a good team culture is important.
Be honest and be transparent that is what is important.
WHAT MAKES A COMPANY FUNDABLE
A “good business” is not necessarily fundable.
A lot of great biz that will be successful without funding.
-how do u derive meaning out of data
-New ways to data mine
-Project management tools
-Building a better Craigslist
-Building better Email
Kirill Sheynkman came over to the Rose Tech Incubator and spoke about pitching to VC’s. I took some high notes personal notes from the talk.
Tell them what you are doing.
“We are a _____ for ____ a market worth $$$.”
What is the pain you are addressing.
Who are the people that have the pain.
How many are there?
Let them know your realistic goals.
Think about the next round.
Expect 35%-40% for a series A.
2 1/2 post round B.
How are you going to get to this point?
Think about the next round
Who will sign the check?
Down Rounds are bad!
The first meeting.
The second meeting.
The partner meeting.
Due diligence (can take weeks).
Close (4 to 6 weeks to get a deal done.)
Start to pitch 6 months before the next round. It is the CEO’s job full time to be raising money.
It is the board of directors job to manage how well the CEO’s performance is going for a company.
We were honored this week to have David Rose talking about the direction that companies are going.
I took a few notes on what he had mentioned.
First he mention some great outsourcing resources:
There are a few ways to contact investors.
I believe the best way to do this is to find someone who can make a warm introduction for you via email. Then taking it from there. If you can find someone that you know who knows the investor.
Sending an email without knowing an investor before hand is hard because investors get 100’s of email a day from potentail companies to invest in.
Listening to Jason Calacanis’s on the podcast This Week In Startups he talks about the best way to contact investors via email. Some great advise from him, never send powerpoints, don’t email investors at strange hours of the night with your business ideas. Screenshots or a URL are good. Listen to these few minutes, they are very good: mp3>.
Howard Morgan from First Round Capital says he will never open a .doc file. He doesn’t want to get a computer virus.
This is the email:
Hi Mr [THEM],
This is dot dot dot, I’m taking on this market, I’d love to tell you more if your interested. Here is my URL.