8 Key Questions To Expect In Investor Due Diligence

Image via LeadChangeGroup.com

Image via LeadChangeGroup.com

If you really want to impress a startup founder as a potential employee, or you want to be a smart investor, you need to know the right questions to ask. These are the questions that get past the hype of a founder “vision to change the world,” and into the realm of real business strengths, weaknesses, and current health.

Some founders try to deflect these questions by talking incessantly, so you often need to be calm, patient, and persistent to get the answers. My advice to founders out there is to not volunteer too much, but be open and honest in the face of direct questions like the following: Read more

Martin Zwilling , Founder and CEO, Startup Professionals
December 8th, 2013

Where do I find serious non-tech local investors?

The problem with this scenario is that you are describing an oxymoron, and wondering why you can’t find a hot ice cube, or a tall hole, or a submarine that can land at ATL. You write:

“Where can I find intelligent and serious investors who aren’t looking for a cash cow, but are willing to use their funds to contribute to an emerging market and make a lot of people happy?” Read more

What are some good ways to get to meet with VC’s without introductions?

Actively build, maintain and make use of the amazing social networking tools that are available. Right now, there are over 11 million people who can provide an introduction to me through LinkedIn (and I am far from an open networker.)

If you can’t figure out how to get one of those eleven MILLION people to recommend you to me, that’s probably a good indication that you may not be quite ready yet to be a successful entrepreneur in the US.

*original post can be found on Quora @ http://www.quora.com/David-S-Rose/answers *

Up-to-date Investors Want Social Proof from Startups

I just read Social Proof Is the New Currency on the Social Media Today blog. Author Daniel Lay writes: 

Whether you like Mark Zuckerberg’s mug or not, the social web is here to stay, and businesses that can integrate social proof into their marketing efforts seamlessly will join this new “socially rich” class. We mean richness in fans and followers, not number of zeroes in your bank account. Social proof is the new currency of credibility.

I don’t agree completely — I think a fat bank account is a really good thing too — but I do think it summarizes an important truth: All startups looking for investment need to deal with what that post is calling social proof. To me, the underlying reality is that startups and their founders are traceable on social media. There are footprints to track, or — far worse — no footprints. 

Take it to the pitch moment, say a startup pitching a group of angel investors, which is a scene I see often. Startup founders will be judged by their social media footprint. The startups themselves, as businesses, will be judged by their social media footprints, alias social proof. A founder basing projections on social media marketing will look good if she has thousands of Facebook likes and Twitter followers, bad if she has none or only a few. The social proof, or lack of it, is evidence. Up-to-date investors understand that.  

Social proof can’t be manufactured from one day to the next. It takes time to create a credible footprint. It’s one of the first activities to start as you get rolling. Somebody among the founders should have a stream established from a few years back; and the company itself should have a stream that is at least a few months old, with credible updates, and something to show for itself. 

Tim Berry , Founder, Palo Alto Software
December 3rd, 2013

Corporate Perks Will Doom Your Entrepreneur Dreams

Image via ExecutiveSky.ch

Image via ExecutiveSky.ch

I hear many executives and professionals in large corporations talking about their dream of jumping ship, and starting their own company. What they don’t realize is that the longer they wait, the more big-company habits they are acquiring, which will make their eventual decision harder and entrepreneurial efforts less and less likely to succeed.

Certainly, the longer they wait, the greater the variety of excuses they will find for why now is not the time. Common examples include; need to work on my resume, broaden my experience, enhance my skills, save my income, and maintain a stable family life until my children are gone. Most will then NEVER make the step, and remain unsatisfied through much of their career. Read more

Martin Zwilling , Founder and CEO, Startup Professionals
December 1st, 2013

What is the difference between a vertical and a horizontal market?

vertical market is one in which all of your customers are in one particular industry, regardless of where in the food chain they are. For example, the siteNoodle.org is a vertical search engine for the education industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a kindergarten class, an Ivy League college, or an adult education polka dancing course, it covers its industry top to bottom. Read more