At Activate, of all the questions we get from startup founders, those that feel most urgent are all about fund raising and approaching investors. So we thought that it would have been interesting to approach some investors, ask them a few questions and make a podcast and a video!
We worked with the amazingly good team of T/F/D to organise the show, find the right people and put the whole production together.
The idea is simple: over a few weeks Stephanie Forrest and myself will be asking the same questions to a bunch of different types of investors. Some basic stuff (what made you become an investor?), some challenging stuff (what investment do you regret?) some low hanging fruits (what is the top tip for a startup pitch?).
We then chat about other topics: what it means to invest in the UK, how much should an investor get involved in a startup, what kind of startups do different investors prefer.
In this first… uh… season we are starting with five investors, starting on Thursday 7th. You can subscribe to the podcast on the web site, or you can follow our YouTube channel. Enjoy.
It’s a known fact: the vast majority of startups fail, most of them fail making the same mistakes again and again.
If you are crazy enough to be trying to beat the odds, we salute you.
At Activate Capital we have put together a programme designed to help founders like you to avoid the most common pitfalls and significantly improve your chances of success.
Here’s what we will explore with founders who will join us:
Get Your Strategy Straight. Understand why you are doing this. Really. Not a strapline, why are you doing this, how do you want to have an impact,what concrete goals do you want to reach in the short, medium and long term.
Business Model Design. Get clarity on how you are going to make money. How you are going to spend money. Who is going to help you doing both and how you are going to make sure that the business model will support the growth of your company.
Your Value Proposition. Let’s understand your product or service. How does it touch people. Why would they want to use it. Why would they want to spend money for it.
Your Market. Who are your customers? What problems do they have? What gains are they trying to get? How do you verify your assumptions?
Impact mapping. Let’s start designing your product by creating a map of what tools are going to be needed to perform which jobs by who in order to obtain what specific goal. This will be the main guide for all your design efforts.
Understanding the software business. Creating software is hard work, if you don’t have a background in software development it is completely different from anything you have experienced before. It’s extremely important that you understand how. And yes, there will be bugs. Lots of them.
Prioritising for your MVP. The importance of “Minimum” in your Minimum Viable Product. It has to be embarrassing, otherwise you have spent too much time or money on it.
Prototyping and testing. Before you start investing in a huge development project, let’s test your assumptions by building prototypes of the key moving parts of your products.
Legal and accounting advice. It’s not only a matter of product. There are many other things that can kill you.
Marketing & Branding. Once you will have a product you will need to get the whole world to notice. There are some key elements to keep in mind while building your marketing plan.
Pitching. Convincing people to invest in your company is tough. We will train you to pitch your product and answer difficult questions.
Hiring the right people. Who will be your first hire? And the second? The success of your enterprise depends on your ability to form an awesome group.
One of the issues that we are trying to address at Activate Capital is the “tech co-founder syndrome” which seems to afflict so many business people trying to start their new companies.
It’s what most accelerators and investors put as a condition to their involvement when the founder of a company doesn’t have a technical background: the startup must have a tech co-founder.
This request has created an environment where founders are constantly hunting for any dude who can write a few lines of code and is available to get involved in some undefined project.
It’s not that I don’t understand why savvy investors would want that: a company based on a digital platform which doesn’t “own” its own technology is in a very shaky position.
But looking for any tech co-founder is not the solution either. In most cases an unexperienced business person just wonders off and after a long search ends up finding the wrong person.
This is one of the reasons that lead us to form Activate Capital: our intention is to invest in early stage companies and become their “tech co-founder”, but with the weight of a full team of professionals who have been developing digital platforms for a long time.
Because it’s not just about tech. These days to build a competitive digital platform you need UX designers, software architects, project managers, front-end developers, back-end developers, and the list goes on and on.
So, if you know anybody with a great business idea and the crazy impulse to start a new business, please send her or him to Activate Capital: we need to talk!