How Do Venture Capitalists Make Decisions?

The other day I came across one of my favorite newsletters from The Stanford Business Graduate School, and in particular the subject line “Do Funders Care More About Your Team, Your Idea, or Your Passion?” intrigued me to read on.

In a study co-authored by Stanford finance professor Ilya A. Strebulaev, “How Do Venture Capitalists Make Decisions?” The findings seem to indicate that Venture Capitalists who are considering investing in entrepreneurial ventures, are most interested in entrepreneurs who are passionate, capable, experienced, and part of a strong team.

The survey included 885 Venture Capital professionals at 681 firms, and asked the VCs to identify the factors that drove their investment selection decisions and ranked them according to importance. The abilities of a founder and his/her management team are the most important factors driving investment decisions, and even more important than the product or technology itself.

The average investor evaluates 200 companies a year and invests in just four. Each deal takes an average of 83 days to put together, which includes 118 hours of due diligence and Strebulaev says that “Venture Capitalists gauge an entrepreneur’s passion level by their commitment of time, effort, and money to their idea. “

The study was structured in a way that enabled researchers to better understand how different types of venture capital investors approach their decisions. They found that information technology investors tend to be interested in an entrepreneur’s management team, while health sector investors are more interested in products and market forces.

If indeed you have the time, I strongly recommend downloading the complete study HERE.

As usual, please email me your thoughts and comments. I guarantee you a response!

Reflections and Outlook

During the months of December 2016 and January 2017, I had the opportunity to present  “REFLECTIONS FOR THIS PAST YEAR AND OUTLOOK FOR THE COMING NEW YEAR” to over 100 people in 13 different networking groups.

In the workshop we asked each other what were our professional accomplishments as well as our professional disappointments in the prior year.

We also asked one another to reflect on the one thing to stop doing, and the one thing to start doing in the coming year to become a more effective leader in each of our own companies.

Lastly, we asked ourselves to list our three Professional Performance Objectives and Milestones for the coming year with our anticipated Specific Outcomes and Results with the Dates to be Completed by.

The ultimate goal of this interactive workshop was to create a “roadmap/top down business plan” which each individual could review as they saw fit, in order to make the new year as successful as it could possibly be.

On a personal level, it was a great learning opportunity for me, and I truly appreciated everyone’s candor, honesty and willingness to share their experiences in a group setting.

I also wanted to thank Dave Bresler, Steve Percudani, Paul Berkman, Matt Plociak and the NYC Creative Masterminds Group for enabling these workshops to take place in so many different settings.

Please visit Reflections and Outlook and feel free to download the document, and use it with your colleagues and/or employees. It’s still not too late to complete your own 2017 Roadmap for Success!

As always, I look forward to your comments and feedback

What is Fun at Work?

Shreya Gupta

 

I was perusing through the Sunday NY Times, Business section a few weeks ago and I was intrigued with the headline, “At Work, Focus on the Fun”.

(Read full article here

Reading past the headline, I once again read the statistic from a recent Gallup poll that two of three working Americans do not feel engaged at work.

Actually, I can relate to that statistic as I experienced that for a considerable period of my early work experience. And then something happened – I started my own Company with a partner, and my life and my work was never the same again.

What was it that made the difference? I think it was that I found what I did was not only challenging, but also incredibly interesting, and inevitably fun.

So what is fun at work? In my opinion, it is believing that what you do does make a difference, and that being fully engaged in the process of whatever you do does matter, and seeing the impact of your efforts, despite everything that can and does get in the way, can indeed be the difference of having fun at work.

The article makes some interesting points on how to make work fun:

  • Making friends and establishing comradery with coworkers
  • Breaking the routine
  • Shifting one’s mindset to focus on the positives of one’s jobs instead of the negatives
  • Making one’s goal the process of doing the job and completing all the necessary tasks

Most importantly, I agree with the statement in this article, “…that people feel energized when the process of doing something becomes the goal of doing it”. For me, I found this very satisfying and inevitably have made work more fun for me.

Once again, Veronica Rao was helpful in my gathering my thoughts to write this piece. And, as always, I do appreciate your comments and feedback.

Simplify the Message, and Repeat it Often

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My passion and some people might say my obsession, is to learn as much as I can about successful CEO’s and successful companies. That being said, I was quite interested in the NY Times, Corner Office interview with John Lilly. John is a successful Venture Capitalist whose job is to evaluate CEO’s whose companies his venture firm is considering investing in.

(Read full article here)

Lilly’s quest is to understand the quality of a CEO’s thought process and how he or she interacts with him. He gets this information by asking a lot of questions to test whether the CEO can “be honest and candid and still get to a productive place”. In Lilly’s eyes business is all about deciding whose team you are on, and investing in those relationships by building rapport and spending time with them.

Lilly is in a unique position. He may look at 400 companies a year and might invest in two of them. He may even meet with several CEO’s in the same day, much less several each week. He believes that the biggest lesson he has learned in his job is to “simplify the message, and repeat it often”. Perhaps that’s also the lesson to be learned for both seasoned and aspiring CEO’s!

What do you think? I’d love to hear back from you. Once again, kudos to Veronica Rao for her insights in helping me prepare this article.

It is Worth Investing in Mobile Advertising!

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Just two months ago, after receiving Advertising Age’s 2016 Mobile Marketing Fact Pack I wrote a blog commenting, “that there is no escaping that the mobile world is not only here to stay, but is overtaking every other traditional form of communication.”(Read previous article here)

So when I received Advertising Age’s 2016 Marketing Fact Pack in mid December 2016, I was not surprised to see once again that mobile advertising made up 42% of all online advertising in 2016, and that is expected to raise to 49% this year, 57% in 2018 and 61% in 2019.

If you’re a marketer of consumer products and services, you should be paying close attention to investing your marketing dollars in mobile advertising.

Another fascinating fact is that predicted spending for U.S. media and marketing in 2017 is $1,333 per person. If you’re a business owner already investing in advertising, it might be a safe assumption to increase your investment inevitably increasing your reach for your target audience.

The Fact Pack is chock full of stats well worth looking at in greater depth. (Fact Pack) One more thing that stood out to me was that Millennial households make up 44% of households not subscribing to cable/satellite TV. Once again, if you are a marketer of consumer products to young people between the ages of 18 and 34, you should seriously be considering mobile advertising in 2017 and beyond.

Last October, I also wrote marketing, advertising and sales are changing as fast as I could write and publish that blog entry. Once again, I can only repeat that if you’re a marketer and want to stay in business, you better get on board and ride with the change – it’s now!

BTW, thanks to Veronica Rao for her research and insights in preparation for this article.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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CEOs Set the Tone

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As you probably know by now having read my posts in the past, I am fascinated about how business people become CEO’s, and what they must focus on if they are to succeed at doing their job.

The other day, I was reading Adam Bryant’s Corner Office column in the New York Times, (read article here) and I really resonated with Blake Irving’s (CEO of GoDaddy) comment that “…when you’re the C.E.O., you get to set a tone from your seat that’s different than if you’re working within an organization. That ability — to actually shape the culture, talk about the things we’re going to do, how we’re going to treat each other, what we want our values to be — is different. I didn’t realize it until I was in the seat.”

Creating a culture that motivates, and inspires people to drive the business forward may be equally critical to driving revenue if the CEO is going to be successful in increasing the value of the business, which should be the goal of every CEO.

As always, I look forward to receiving your thoughts and comments.

97+ Experts on Driving Small Business Growth

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Check out my article “Growth Means Turning an Entrepreneur Into a CEO”  alongside dozens of other expert contributors in Recalculating 97+ Experts on Driving Small Business Growth.  We were each asked to write special 1000-word contributions for the book based on our expertise.  Topics covered are: Leadership, Finance, Marketing and Sales, Human Capital, Operations and Technology.

You can purchase the book on Amazon in either Paperback or the Kindle edition HERE.

As I have often said in my talks, and as I conclude in my article, ” In my experience with hundreds of clients, I’ve found that whether one chooses or not to grow the business, the principles of systematizing, being deterministic, and increasing value for the business still hold true for any business, and becoming a CEO may not be a choice after all.”

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

The Long and Winding Road

 

Jon Reinfurt

As many of you know, I often talk about small business owners becoming CEO’s, so I was quite intrigued when I saw this article in last week’s Sunday New York Times Business Section (read full article here) focused on what it takes for a young person starting his or her career to eventually become a CEO in the corporate arena. In particular, I wanted to see if the long and winding road to the CEO’s job in the corporate world was all that different than the long and winding road to the CEO’s job in the world of small business.

No one doubts that hard work, brains, leadership ability and luck are key factors for climbing the corporate ladder, but new evidence shows having experience in as many business’s functional areas as possible and building relationships within an industry may now be just as important.

Data from a new study by LinkedIn of almost a half million onetime management consultants showed that experience in one additional functional area improved a person’s odds of becoming a senior executive as much as three years of extra experience. Burning Glass, a firm that scours millions of job listings to determine labor market trends, found a surge in demand for hybrid jobs, that incorporate expertise in different fields such as both technology and finance.

If as as Guy Berger, an economist at LinkedIn says that to be a C.E.O. or other top executive, “You need to understand how the different parts of a company work and how they interact with each other and understand how other people do their job”, then indeed the same is just as true for a small business owner who wants to become a CEO. There really is no difference!

I urge you to read the full article and let me know what you think.

Silicon Valley Apocalypse: Near or Far?

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In March of 2016 earlier this year I had written about how “Startups Remain Believers Despite the Warning Signs (article here), so I was enheartened to see an update by Katie Benner in the NY Times, August 28, 2016 Technology section that talked about how start-ups in Silicon Valley are beginning to narrow their focus (article here).

Seasoned venture capitalists warned that many start-ups would eventually suffer the plight of a very cold winter, and the worst was yet to come. However, despite these apocalyptic predictions, most start-ups are still here, but many of them have definitely made adjustments including layoffs and accepting smaller and more realistic valuations. Ms. Benner writes, “Entrepreneurs who once talked about how fast their start-ups were growing are now spouting from a bible of fiscal responsibility.”

Venture Capitalists are still sounding the alarms, and given the economy, the pending election, and world events, who knows what will happen to the stock market, and what that will do to the flow of funds for start-up ventures? However, as an entrepreneur, a business owner and a management consultant who has experienced the ups and downs of the marketplace many times, I am pleased to see that start-ups are paying attention and are more receptive to taking fiscal responsibility. My advice continues to be to take the time to understand your market, make adjustments where you need to, and also make smart investments where you need to as well.