5 questions you should ask to determine if an investor is the right fit for you

Finding a good investor can be crucial for many projects, since they can bring more than just resources and can help the startup reach its growth potential. But founders often struggle and get frustrated with the process, either out of inexperience or out of the pressure of securing investment as fast as they can. The…

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

6 Ways To Calibrate Your Fit To The Right New Venture

right-new-ventureBeing an entrepreneur seems to be one of the most popular lifestyle aspirations these days. According to most definitions, anyone who starts a business is an entrepreneur, but most people don’t realize there are many startup types out there, and picking the wrong one can be just as disastrous as being stuck in a cubicle at work, or doing things with no interest and no skills.

In my view, this mismatch of motivation to your business model is the primary reason that 90 percent of startups ultimately fail, and a shockingly high 80 percent of employees are dissatisfied at work. Thus it behooves every entrepreneur to pick the startup model that best matches their real motivation. Here are six considerations to get you started on the right startup:

  1. Invented a solution to a painful existing problem. You have proven that you can create an innovative product, but creating a business is a whole new challenge. The old adage of “if we build it, they will come” doesn’t work anymore. Every business needs marketing, distribution, a positive revenue model and intellectual property to survive. You won’t be a successful and happy entrepreneur if you aren’t motivated to build a business.
  1. Aspire to be in control of your own domain. There are many business types that don’t assume any new invention or service, such as franchising, multi-level marketing (MLM) or freelancing. These do require business management and execution skills, as well as the discipline to manage yourself. Just don’t look for an investor to fund your efforts here, since investors will likely be tougher bosses than corporate managers.
  1. Looking for a path to dramatically increase your income. This is a tough one, since most of the overnight startup successes I know took six years or more. Franchises and consulting businesses have an earlier and higher success rate, but typically have a lower return. With new products and services, you can hit the jackpot, but many struggle or fail.
  1. Trying to fulfill family or peer expectations. Don’t try to be an entrepreneur just to prove something to a loved one, friend or sibling. There are no business types that work well here, except maybe an existing family business that is already successful. If you must proceed, at least pick something you love, or a social cause to benefit society.
  1. Seeking a new career challenge to follow an existing success. If you have a comfortable position from a previous success, and are not looking to retire, a great business is to share your expertise and experience through consulting. Another great learning opportunity and win-win deal is to co-founder a new high-tech startup team.
  1. Fulfill your legacy and responsibility to society. Environmental startups and non-profit businesses are just as challenging as the next disruptive technology startup, and just as likely to change the world. Leaving a personal legacy is a great motivator to switch to entrepreneurial work, if you have that passion and determination.

No matter which of the entrepreneur business models you choose, don’t expect the work to be easier than a corporate job. In fact, most successful entrepreneurs would argue just the opposite. Success in any entrepreneur role requires a serious commitment, determination and learning from setbacks. Switching business models is not usually a shortcut to success and happiness.

I often recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs that they first take a job with another startup in the same realm as the one they envision to get some practical insight into the challenges, make contacts and learn more about their own motivations. Then take the big step of starting your own business, with fewer surprises, some good connections and likely more accumulated savings.

Overall, it is important to remember that happiness breeds success more often than success breeds happiness. Every aspiring entrepreneur should play to their strengths and interests, rather than listen to all the well-meaning advice you will hear from friends and experts. The exciting part about being an entrepreneur is that you can tailor the role to match your real motivations.

Marty Zwilling

Startup Professionals Musings

Advice on determining the right compensation for pre-seed startup employee

Im a recent graduate working on my OPT in US. I landed a job with an early stage startup and they gave an amazing position for a starter like me (head of AI).

However, they are pre-seed and I'm just getting paid minimum salary. They specified in my offer letter that once they raise capital, they'll give me market salary and stock options though no figures were mentioned. They have an annual revenue of around a quarter of a million dollars so far and according to what they have told me, majority of this goes into operations cost and none of the founders are drawing salaries. I think I'm the first and only salaried employee in the firm (and I guess that kinda shows that they value me too). Work from home makes it extra difficult to connect with other people in the firm to get any more details. But given the structure of the company and my position as tech head, I believe what they're saying.

Anyhow, the thing is I'm gonna develop some major IP for them, which is atleast foundational to them if not generally innovative in the field. So I'd like to have my assurances before I put in that kinda work. It's been only 3 months so far. 2 things – a) I'd like to up my salary coz I really can't make ends meet with this b) I'd like to have the figures locked in and have appropriate compensation for the stuff I'm developing.

Can anyone please advise me on how should I proceed? Can I ask them to give me a revised offer letter with figures now and an equity document? What are my best options? What are the terms I should know, research, lookout for in the offer doc and negotiate with them? Can I claim any royalty rights to the IP? Is it fine if I ask for more pay? Not exorbitant but liveable.

Please note I don't have any work experience and I'm extremely nooby with this stuff. And this is kind of a make or break scenario for me when it comes to staying in the US. So kind members, please help me out. I'm researching on my own, but if you could help me with the best practices, I'd really appreciate it.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

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3 VCs discuss space junk and what else they’re betting on right now

Space may be the final frontier, but in terms of investment, VCs are just getting started. With that in mind during TC Sessions: Space 2020 last week, we spoke to three investors who’ve been actively funding what could become tomorrow’s biggest companies to learn where they might focus next.

Sustainability is a major issue for all of their portfolio companies.

Our guests — Tess Hatch of Bessemer Venture Partners, who has long focused on the commercialization of space; Mike Collett of Promus Ventures, a venture firm that invests in deep tech software and hardware companies; and Chris Boshuizen of the venture firm DCVC and a cofounder of Planet Labs — had a lot of intriguing observations on topics, including the dangers of orbital debris, space manufacturing, and how they’d rate the U.S. government when it comes to fostering space-related innovations.

For those who missed the event, we’ve posted a video of our conversation below.

Space junk could affect long-term sustainability

Hatch, who recently co-authored an informative piece on the topic, said there’s little consensus about whether space junk is a critical matter that deserves more regulatory attention or an issue that will resolve itself through tech advancements, even while startups like Astroscale and D-Orbit are focused on the issue. The commercial industry’s expectation seems to be that space companies can regulate themselves and launch constellations without leaving pieces of launch vehicles or rocket stages in space, she said.

For her part, Hatch said it’s something to potentially invest in within a “handful of years.” At the moment, she added, “it’s not at the top of my list just due to looking for a shorter return on my investment for my LPs in the fund.”

Collett and the others stressed that in the meantime, sustainability is a major issue for all of their portfolio companies. “Everybody wants to do their job as a corporate citizen to make sure they’re not leaving anything else up there that doesn’t need to be there. Indeed, Boshuizen noted that at Planet Labs, best practices were taken very seriously.

Still, Boshuizen noted concerns about newer capital sources that might be less focused on the issue of space debris. “I don’t think everyone necessarily has the same space background,” he said, explaining that “we’re seeing a lot of outside investment from new people joining the industry, which is exciting, but also they don’t really know how important this is [and] it’s important for people to realize that they’ve got to pay attention to this.”

Startups – TechCrunch

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‘The youth in Africa are ready to jump the digital divide, they just need to have access and the right price point.’  Music Business Worldwide
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