Tips and Tricks from Successful Entrepreneurs
Last month, Tech Coast Angels, K5 Ventures, and The Portal hosted Face to Face for Investors, one of Orange County’s largest gatherings of investors and entrepreneurs. We welcomed investors and company founders to speak in panels and presentations about unique challenges and tips they experienced in bringing their companies to success. Breakout sessions opened the opportunity for investors to cultivate conversation between attendees and themselves. This year, topics included insight ranging from family offices and venture funds to entrepreneurs specializing in healthcare, software, ecommerce, and more.
Insight from Tech Coast Angels Presidents and Venture Funds (Ray Chan, Eric Schiffer, Hicham Semaan, Paul Voois)
It’s never too early to talk to investors, even if you’re not actively raising funds.
In fact, some investors are more inclined to provide advice if you sincerely seek out their advice, especially if you’ve done a little research on the person you’re reaching out to and know that you want their specific expertise.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the people around you, especially if they are also entrepreneurs or own their own businesses.
They can provide a lot of insight and advice that may be helpful for you. Entrepreneurs should talk to each other and grow their investment network, since personal referrals to angels or investors through these networks have a better chance of getting you in front of the people you’re interested in.
When you’re pitching your company, make sure the problem you’re solving is incredibly clear.
If you’re not solving a problem, then there’s probably no point to your product and you might have to rethink what you’re doing. Make sure that you not only establish your story, team, and technology, but that you prove your credibility. The skillsets don’t matter if you can’t prove that you can do something with them.
Investors want to see that you’ve done your research and that you’ve put together a solid approach and plan.
They need to have a sense that you’ve done the work to get into the business or field that you’re looking at, and that you have the people you’ll use as resources available to you.
Make use of the network of investors and companies to promote your product.
Once you’ve been funded, you should leverage the network of investors and other companies that they’ve funded to provide assistance post-investment. The Our Companies First Program, for example, is a good way to connect with other entrepreneurs, get advice, and even promote your product.
Poor distribution, rather than poor product is often the cause of failure.
You need to have a solid strategy, and you have to pay as much attention to the people you’re marketing and reaching out to as you do the product that you’re giving them. If you’re not selling, there’s a good chance that you’re either selling the wrong thing or your product isn’t reaching the right eyes.
Run traction experiments.
Find the one market or group that’s winning. Any time you run these experiments, you should also focus on only running one at a time, for the sake of maximizing each segment.
Time is of the essence.
A founders’ time is more important than money you have in the bank. Make sure to optimize productivity and keep any distractions out.
Be prepared to have a timeline when dealing with large businesses.
When you’re working with large businesses, be aware that they don’t work with the same speed, pace, or urgency as many startups do. Be prepared to work long-term, and if a deal with a big business is important to your work, be aware of their timelines. Also make sure to be legally protected, in the event that they try to take any intellectual property.