What I Look for in an Entrepreneur Before Investing

Find Investors Who Can Help Your Raise Funding

Founders really need to be choosy about how they start their journey.  When you pick an accelerator or pick somebody to help you, you should be talking to them about how they can help in raising a seed round.  That is what they should be doing.  I never really got the friends and family fundraising because how do those friends and family help you raise more money?  Generally they don’t.  So you should raise money from an Angel who actually knows what they are doing.  Who has for example 7 other VCs they will personally introduce.  Your investor should be your biggest champion in investing your next round.

Avoid Cold Emails

I have never done a deal because of a cold email.  That does not mean things that come in are not interesting.  As an investor, if I get a cold email, I already know the founder does not know what he or she is doing. If they knew what they were doing, they probably would not have time to construct these cold emails because they would actually be using their network to get to the right people and actually getting proper meetings.  This shows that they probably don’t know how to raise money which is part of your startup journey.  Having to raise money.

Get Some Experience Under Your Belt

If you are going to be an entrepreneur you need to know what you are doing.  Not everyone can be or should be an entrepreneur.  A question I ask founders is if they have worked for a company before.  If you are going to go straight from school to a startup, just know that works for a very few people in the world.  So the first thing I say is to get some experience at a P&L.  Get some experience managing people.  Get some experience in actually running a business before you actually go out and try to start your own business.  If you did do that you would know then how to build a team, you would know how to manage your P&L, you would know how to craft a strategy.  So I think if people are wondering how to do that, they probably shouldn’t be doing a startup.  I would suggest they take that job at a series A or series B funded startup for a couple of years and get some learnings under your belt then go do your startup.

Educate yourself on how fundraising actually works.  I always like to suggest a book called Venture Deals by Brad Fells.  Generally, if a founder is talking to me about fundraising and hasn’t read that book, they are already in a certain category for me, because it probably means you don’t understand the mechanics of what you are trying to do.

Michael Smith Jr
Michael Smith Jr

Michael is a Partner at SeedPlus and has helmed technology-led expansions across the region from HOOQ (SingTel), Spuul, Yahoo! and BEA Systems (later acquired by Oracle). At Yahoo!, Michael served as Director of Global Tech Initiatives. He managed the Asian developer network and oversaw the acquisitions of start-ups and partnerships with companies across Southeast Asia.

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