On Wednesday, August 22, we were fortunate to have Dragons’ Den star Bruce Croxon come in for a special JOLT speaker session. Bruce co-founded the popular dating site Lavalife and recently founded Round13 Capital, a company that invests in digital startups in Canada.
Each JOLT startup had a chance to give their company elevator pitch, which launched into an in-depth question-and-answer session with each team. In true Dragons’ Den fashion, Bruce challenged them on varying aspects of their businesses and asked them about their competition and where they saw their companies going in the years ahead.
Bruce was curious about the development stage of Venngage’s software, questioned SlingRide’s revenue model, asked Greengage Mobile if they had considered the valuation of their users, told the tout.it team to stay focused and keep their platform simple, inquired about eProf’s user experience and asked how ShelfLife differentiates itself from other online sites such as eBay.
The teams had to be quick on their feet and defend their ideas, strategy and target audience to a seasoned investor passionate about technology startups.
“Having access to successful and seasoned entrepreneurs like Bruce Croxon has been invaluable for SlingRide,” said Bryan Hurren, VP of products for SlingRide. “Even though on the surface there’s little similarity between dating and ridesharing, he shared common business design patterns that we’ll benefit from and common pitfalls that we’ll avoid.”
After the sessions with the companies, Bruce spoke about how the life of an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone and how it’s not an easy road to choose. For every 51% you move ahead, you seemingly move 49% back.
Given this challenging lifestyle, investors want to see that the entrepreneurs are in it for the long haul, through the ups and downs. “Enjoy it, find reserves, have a good support system and pick the right partner—partnerships are great,” said Bruce.
Bruce gave the group some insights into his experience building Lavalife from the ground up, and there were some laughs as he related some of the companies to Lavalife—SlingRide users could also meet potential partners on the rideshares!
His expertise and passion came through in his candid advice to the teams as they grow their businesses: “Focus is choice. Everything sounds great but stick to one to three main priorities. Focus your limited resources on priorities.”
In terms of beating the competition, in reality the top two to three companies take all, and your cost per user goes up as competition emerges. Metrics appeal to investors—show investors how your product can scale beyond a given region and prove your revenue model.
“Raise as much capital as you can, as quickly as you can. Figure how much you want to raise, and double it.” Spoken like a true Dragon.