48 hours with 500 Startups’ Paul Singh

48 hours with 500 Startups’ Paul Singh

This week, MaRS welcomed Paul Singh, a well-known venture capitalist and a partner of 500 Startups, a Mountain View, California–based seed fund and mentorship-driven accelerator program.

On Monday afternoon Paul hosted a special invite-only speaking event at MaRS titled “Moneyball: A Quantitative Approach to Angel Investing.” In this candid, investors-only talk, he described the tangible factors and economics that influence 500 Startups when deciding to invest in an early-stage company.

Paul Singh mentoring and sharing his advice with the JOLT startups

Team, execution, traction and data—these are the four key factors to consider when assessing a startup.

Paul pointed out that early-stage startups have changed, and that there is increased transparency in the market today. Investors can see more deals and place their money better than ever before.

He also talked about traction, traction, traction—startups need it and it is the new intellectual property. Furthermore, early-stage capital is increasingly commoditized (Internet startups), so it is essential to get into a deal at the beginning or, as Paul emphasized, to “trust your referrals and move fast.”

Paul Singh

Paul’s 90-minute session ended with a true Moneyball analogy: “Think of investing as a process. Rather than aiming for the fence, it’s better to aim for first base, then figure out how to get to second.”

On Tuesday morning, Paul met with the six JOLT startups to discuss the realities of pitching to potential investors and shared honest insights into the realities of angel investors and venture capitalists. He emphasized to the group that building a product and getting traction is key, and that you can only raise on vision or traction—not both. Similarly, you can only raise on vision once.

And when it comes to pitching to investors, communication is key, Paul explained. Make a compelling message, keep it simple and make your pitch memorable. “Don’t be shy about what you’re raising and don’t be scared of your ask,” he said.

After the speaker session, the JOLT teams were then fortunate enough to have one-on-one time with Paul through individual office hours for the rest of the day. They used this time as a pitch prep workshop, in preparation for JOLT Demo Day in October.

MaRS would like to thank Paul for two great days!