Last week’s CIBC Presents Entrepreneurship 101 featured a funny, often brutally honest panel of VCs discussing how entrepreneurs can get money from VCs. Peter Tolnai (Founder and President of the Orchard Capital Group) moderated a panel with two entrepreneurs-turned-VCs including Bryan Kerdman (Partner at EdgeStone Capital Partners) and Rick Segal (who was formerly a VC with JL Albright and the BlackBerry Partners Fund but has since returned to being an entrepreneur with his start-up Fixmo). I loved hearing from those who have lived both sides of the VC-entrepreneur coin.
One of their most salient messages was that entrepreneurs shouldn’t drink their technology Kool-Aid and think that a fantastic technology will be the magic key to VC investment. When asked about the top factors they looked at when evaluating a deal, technology wasn’t on the list. The number one factor they look for? Great people: a great team with deep domain expertise is essential. Next in importance is the market opportunity: Is there an actual problem being solved? Is it a really big problem? Is it an international problem (i.e. Is the market opportunity international?) Basically, is there a real business there?
Rick went further: “Anyone who goes after technology for technology’s sake is going over a cliff financially. What’s the business? What’s the problem? What’s the market size?…. Technology enables the business –” not the other way around. For example, the technology for Twitter is hardly new as SMS technology has been around since the 1970s. The innovation was the use of the technology, the new execution of it to create innovative user value.
Watch the video to hear:
Candid thoughts from VCs
Want to hear what some other VCs out there think? Don’t miss these blogs:
Downloads and resources
Weren’t able to attend the class? Need some notes or want to look something up? Click below for all of the goodies from the lecture. Watch the video and the slide presentation below.
CIBC presents Entrepreneurship 101 2009/10 – Week 22 – How to Get Money From a VC from MaRS Discovery District on Vimeo.