- Traction, retention and engagement of end users.
Really focus on these three things. If you have a service gunning for the consumer space, these are undoubtedly what you need to be looking for.
Given that we are an early stage investor in the consumer mobile space, we look for something that may look like a feature or subset of a service that can develop into an full-scale business.
Ultimately, for you to get an investment opportunity from us, I am looking for a business that can eventually be self-sufficient. Something that can emanate the characteristics of a long standing service that can be either monetized, or grow into a strong and long lasting community.
If you can demonstrate how users will keep coming back to your service, how over time it can be monetized, through advertising, in-app purchases, or other mechanisms like subscriptions. Your chances of investment will increase dramatically.
It doesn’t need to happen immediately, but I need to feel that what you’re building is something that can eventually create economic value.
It’s good for you to know the truth when you go to bed at night.
We also tend to focus on businesses that we feel align with our core skillsets, which are in product management, analytics/data science and business development. We also look at services that clearly have a place in mobile space – mobile first or mobile only – and that simultaneously pose the opportunity to serve hundreds of millions of users
We’re not necessarily looking for things that are going to change humanity, some of these might. But that’s not our focus.
For an investment opportunity, connect with VCs or angels in the right way.
Understand who you would like on board: who is investing in the space I am in, who matters the most in the overall ecosystem, who has a good reputation, etc.
Make sure you get the best possible connection you can with the investor that you want on board, because it will significantly improve your chances of gaining an early stage investment: ensure you connect with people that have deep relationships with the investors that you want on board; normally, the approach of sending a LinkedIn message or other types of messages out of the blue doesn’t work very well. It has a low hit ratio and could potentially squander an investment opportunity.
If you cannot know upfront, when you go and talk to investors, try and find out if they invest in this space or not. What normally is their thesis? And at the end of the day, why would they invest in you?
It’s very off putting when you invite an entrepreneur in for an investment opportunity and they come with a pitch that tries to touch every base, one they use both with angels and with any type of VC, failing to realize that every VC is different. More specifically, every partner you talk to is actually quite different and specializes in different things.
This resonates further when you realize that the pitch is quite often the first impression- and if it doesn’t work out, I may have the wrong view on what you are trying to do and may not end up investing.
The most important thing that can happen when trying to get an early stage investment opportunity is a conversation; that’s the ultimate outcome. Once you get into an engaged and deep conversation, you start realizing what the other side wants to look at and some investors are very specific about what they want. It’s about finding the fit.
Resilience, drive and team.
First of all, we look for resilience.
Being an entrepreneur is an incredibly difficult activity, so we look for the telltale signs of resilience. This can show up when we do reference checks, or talk to entrepreneurs in meetings, ultimately, in an investment opportunity we look to see if someone has the ability to withstand “pain”.
There is “pain” in being an entrepreneur and the ability to deal with that is important.
Second we look at drive, the notion that people want to win. And it’s not the notion of wanting to pummel others around them, but instead the outlook of wanting to get as much as possible for their own company.
The third thing we look for are whether or not the strengths of the team are complementary to one another, which during the early stages of an investment opportunity is essential. To get an investment in particular, we look for teams that are initially strongly based around engineering, design and to a certain extent product.
The fourth thing we look for in the founding team and in particular the CEO, is the ability to learn, we also appreciate intellectual honesty in interactions. It’s good for you to know the truth when you go to bed at night.