Venture Capital

I recently hosted a Tablecrowd dinner with speaker, Simon Menashy from MMC Ventures… and boy did I learn a lot!

Here are my favourite remarks about the fantastic world of venture:

  • Remember that VC’s also have to fundraise for their fund
  • Venture Capital is not right for every founder and business.
  • The fund has to return profit to investors despite the majority of start-ups in the portfolio failing, so VCs are on the look for companies that are:
    • SCALABLE: Can increase it’s business without increasing the operational costs
    • ACCELERATABLE: If the VC puts $1 mil into the business, it should grow faster and deliver more return than if the $1 million investment wasn’t there.
    • 10x RETURN – VCs are looking for exits that sell the company for 10x the original evaluation (a few need to reach the potential to support all the failures)
  • This stuck with me the most: Every time you take capital, you are limiting your options. For example, Simon mentioned that if you take money from him at a $5-15 million evaluation, you are agreeing to ONLY build a $100million company (no smaller growth or earlier exits).
  • Always plan and alight your current funding round and evaluation with future rounds and evaluations. As in, what can you realistically achieve with this money? And then, what are you going to need and look like?
  • VCs want to see what guidance founders will need in the future and if the founder has mapped out the journey ahead.
  • Series A is a larger fundraising round and later in the company lifecycle. Simon mentioned a huge gap between seed and Series A in the UK marketplace at the moment.
  • Series A investors are looking for: tenacious founders, solid teams, consumer traction, revenue growth, and ROI from their companies.

I’m slowly learning more and more about the funding side of start-ups (whereas I mainly work with their advertising and product development). A great resource if you haven’t discovered it yet is the podcast 20-minute VC! Each podcast interview today’s most successful and inspiring venture capitalists, delving inside the funding game in an easily digestible audio format. I must admit, I’m a little bit in love with its founder Harry Stebbings.   

Mr. Stebbings also started a blog recently, so if you’d prefer to read over listen, check out Mojito VC.

And now, I’m off for a white Christmas in Bulgaria! X

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‘Mentor A Female Entrepreneur’

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The program continues with our second event tonight – focused on decision making in business environments. But as an art project, we also took all pictures of all the women and asked them ‘what’s the best decision you’ve made so far?” Generally, the answers fell into three buckets:

  1. I’m happy I moved to London/the UK.
  2. I’m happy I pursued a career  that I’m passionate about even though it was different from my university  degree/previous job.
  3. Deciding to get married/have a family

For me, I wrote: Investing time in learning other languages

Why? Because I now realise the power and cultural awareness that comes with being able to speak to people in their native language rather than always relying on English. The Bulgarian language is fundamental to my identity and my ability to connect with friends and family back home. Meanwhile, French was a great push into a language that I chose to learn for my own curiosity and passion.

Couple interesting articles discussed at the event:

MAFE…

… stands for ‘Mentor A Female Entrepreneur’. It’s a program that pairs managers and directors in our media agency with women who have founded a start-up. My inspiration for our opening session was Sheryl Sandberg:

“Presenting leadership as a list of carefully defined qualities (like strategic, analytical and performance-oriented) no longer holds. Instead, true leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.”

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Our mission statement builds off this idea of leadership and raw conversation:

Create a prolonged authentic conversation between two women that are similar enough to relate, but different enough to inspire each other and fill knowledge gaps.

Intrepreneur or Entrepreneur

I got recommended the blog of Australian business man Les Hayman... and it’s a great source of knowledge, insights and stories for the world of business and management.

He also uses WordPress – so it’s slightly comforting that I might be doing something right in my life.

Great expert from his blog:

“what I missed most by being in a small company was the interaction with my peers and those around me who would stimulate, challenge and even oppose me, and I believe that this is one of the key differentiators between en- and in-individuals. True entrepreneurs are self-sufficient and tend to measure themselves mainly on personal success, whereas I have tended to measure my career success mostly by how many successful managers and leaders I have helped to build.

True entrepreneurs can go it alone, which is something I readily choose not to do, so I am obviously not one myself. I have always needed to be able to mix with smart, energetic, capable, enthusiastic, slightly cynical, optimistic, success-driven, non-political, life- loving, eccentric and ambitious peers in large numbers in day to day, equal to equal relationships. This is one of the reasons why in my retirement now I choose to be involved mainly in non-exec board roles so that I can keep satisfying this need of not doing it on my own.”

Read the whole thing here. 

BEST NINE-YEAR OLD IDEA.

When I was nine years old, I had the best idea of how to efficiently find ones car after constantly getting lost in large parking lots with my parents. Growing up in Southern California meant that this happened on a weekly basis and the “searching-by-pressing-the-button” method just wasn’t working. So I thought that every car should have a personalised balloon that is inflated out of the antenna using your remote key. (Each balloon would be a special colour and have the license plate number). Since the balloon will float up, it allowed you to visually locate your car rather than listening for the beep. After you arrive to your car, you pop the balloon and simply reset the antenna for the next time. My younger else was convinced in this innovative approach; so nine-year-old me wrote to Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Ford, and Dodge.  It was an informative letter with my idea, some hand drawn diagrams and a personal signature. My parents helped me find the company’s addresses and mail off the letters. To my delight, three companies wrote back saying that they loved my concept, but were not allowed to take ideas from outside sources. However, I did receive a handwritten message, a Honda Keychain, a Nissan mug, and a little bit of inspiration. Nowadays, I understand the impracticality of the idea, but I still believe that the curiosity, initiative, and modernisation behind the balloon-from-antenna made it the best idea ever.