Posts tagged ‘Investor’

May 21, 2014

Hubris and Learning

Gowy-icaro-pradoHubris according to Merriam Webster is a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence. I meet and talk to a number of entrepreneurs and investors, I am always on the lookout for characteristics of Hubris. I am not being judgemental, but what hubris does is it gets in the way of learning. If you are super confident about yourself or pride yourself about what you know you are eager to learn. I see it mostly in those who have money, they act like they know it all, unfortunately nobody does. I have seen it even more when I used to work in the bank and when I walked into the trading room and when the market was going up, you could feel the pride and self confidence swelling in the room. Oh, yes, I have smoked this feeling too but I never inhaled (famous words spoken!).

I always remind myself to de-link my identity or my pride from the success or failure that I face. Believe me I have faced plenty of both, failure used to hurt me and success used to make me feel like I am the king of the world. I have been doing a lot of thinking and practising flipping the switch on these feelings, i.e be humble when I see success and become extremely curious, open minded and in a positive learning state of mind when I see failure, just like a scientist or explorer should. I think I am onto something here…

I have written about being humble, humble is the word that I would like to remind myself when I see entrepreneurial hubris. I find that I don’t learn when I am feeling hubris, I tend to think I know it and guess what? the Universe has a way of knocking me on my back. I have tried to learn from it but it is hard. Your ego is hurt, you start to look for escape clauses to lick your pride and start pointing fingers at everything else to absolve all responsibility. I think that is a wrong but normal human reaction. There are too many instances to write about and I will just stick to writing about my radical self inquiry around these events.

Startups or being an Entrepreneur is to be a problem solver. You cannot get every problem right, you screw up sometimes. The learnings that you get out of those screw ups is what I want to focus on. Most startup founders struggle with the 3 big milestones of starting a business and building a team. The 3 big milestones that every entrepreneur needs to focus on are:

  1. Product or Service to Market fit – the question you need to ask to achieve this milestone are, do you know the size of your market? do you know how to get in front of the market? do you have something unique, different or valuable to offer this market? Does the market value it the same way as you do? Are you able to make the market choose your offering? what is the cost of making the market to choose your offering? How long would it take to get in front of the market and in what quantity would it cover the cost of the offering? You would be surprised how many entrepreneurs that I meet who have not thought through this. The expectation is not that you have thought through everything but you need to have a clue on how to get in front of the market to experiment and find answers to the other questions.
  2. Revenue scaling – Do you know how to scale your revenue, given you have solved the first milestone problem? What rate can you grow the revenue? What is the cost of growing the revenue? How long will it take to pay for the cost of achieving revenue scaling?
  3. Internationalization – Most of the startups and entrepreneurs that I see understand the need to build products and services for the global market because you can. I have written about how cost effective it has become to start companies, but that is it… it is easy to start something but it takes considerable resources to build a company. Most entrepreneurs underestimate the capital requirement to scale businesses. I think the smart way is to know what market you are going after and what it would cost to become global. You don’t have to know all the numbers but a ballpark would help. For example, if you are building a Software As A Service (SaaS) business then it is relatively easy to estimate the cost of each of the above three milestones. And today every software business needs to be SaaS business otherwise you are doing something wrong or you are in a very specialised business which is going to take you much longer to achieve the first 2 milestones. Internationalization requires a huge amount of time invested in cultural understanding, communication and allowing international teams to absorb and volunteer their hearts and their minds to what you are doing. I have seen so many investors get so impatient with internationalization. They believe it is magic. I can assure you there are no miracles and magic in building teams. It is hard work, experimentation and building trust.

I am usually dumbstruck when I meet Investors who invest in Startups who have absolutely no clue on how to get Startups and Entrepreneurs whom they invest in to achieve the above 3 things. They just expect magic to happen. Building a business is hard work, it takes effort, skills, perseverance and talent. I have seen investors throw the baby with the bathwater because an experiment failed. In addition, I also find Investors who are from one industry apply the principles or what worked in that industry to work in another industry that is totally different. Again it is not going to work. If there was a cookie cutter methodology to build businesses we would have figured it out and everyone would know it. The classic mistake that I see with Investors is to think that they know the business better than the entrepreneur. The truth could not be far from it. An investor needs to be a mentor, a guide, someone with experience willing to help the entrepreneur or startup founder along the way and to bring connections and networks that the startup founder or entrepreneur does not have. I have seen very few investors who fit this bill and the ones who fit the bill are usually the ones who have survived the test of time.

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February 28, 2013

Accelerator for Investors

I have been thinking a lot about how to get new breed of investors into the fold of supporting the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. I think it would be great to have a mentorship driven accelerator just like TechStars or YCombinator focused on building Investors or Investment companies. I think everyone can learn from having mentors and advisors, even Warren Buffet had Ben Graham, time box the creation of the concept and get validation on a public forum and then go on to raise the money and build a venture firm. I wrote about the documentary “Something Ventured“, it was obvious all the early investors had some mentors and advisors who did not know much about startups or silicon valley but they acted as sound boards, what if we could create that here in Iceland?graham-buffett

I think the current club of investors is a crap shoot. It is an exclusive club of someone having pedigree, a wealthy family or should have been lucky to have been a entrepreneur who cashed in or lucky to be appointed as a fund manager by the government or a pension fund or a bank. I think this model is broken. I am sure there are very qualified people playing the role of investors in all these platforms, but I think there needs to be a better way to build a new generation of investors. Waiting for the new generation to successfully exit and return back as investors takes too much time. What if we could create an accelerator that allows anyone who is willing to go through the troubles and tribulations of an entrepreneur, but to become an investor?

The reason I have been thinking about this is because of all the nays I get when I suggest that we need to have more investors looking at startups and investing in startups. The more nodes we have in the ecosystem the stronger the node becomes and what drives people to take on the role of an entrepreneur is a supporting community that provides the environment but also the capital. I have said it before I will say it again, there is enough and more capital well within the confines of Iceland. I wrote about Local Capital a while back. I have come to believe the reason people don’t want to jump and do this is because it is a lot of work and you need to be willing to become a student even though you may have some money and success.

Now that we have a accelerator for Startups in Iceland called Startup Reykjavik, I think creating an accelerator for investment firms is not such a bad idea. The intention would be to create 10 investment companies, solicit applications, pair the teams with mentors, time box it for 3 months and at the end of the 3rd month run a investor day where the teams can present the idea of how they will run the investment firm. What do you think?

January 14, 2013

Organizing Angel Capital

As we are starting the preparation for Startup Iceland 2013 (have you signed up and marked your calendar yet?), one of the elements of building startup ecosystem is to bring more investors into venture investing group. I think there are many avenues for Entrepreneurs to get started like Startup Weekend, Startup Reykjavik, Innovit Incubator and the University Startup Weekend class etc in Iceland, however, there is not a lot of activities that are centered around investors. I have been searching for  model that we could adopt here in Iceland and I finally found someone who is doing this in Seattle – John Sechrest. You can read about John here.

Seattle Angel Conference

The biggest challenge in Angel and Venture Investing is not RISK, there I have said it it is not about Risk it is about not being able to devote enough time for the amount of capital that one invests. Just to give you an example, a typical angel investor may invest from $10000 to $100000 per company and in order to really spread the investments one needs to take 3 to 5 companies. Given with Angel investing one needs to spend 6+ hours a week for every company, investors need to spend considerable amount of time for a small size of the investment. In addition, one cannot make a living doing this, again there I have said it. If you think you are going to make a living doing Angel Investing or Venture Investing, the truth hits you quite harshly across the face when you are starting out. The pay window if you are successful in Angel Investing or Venture Investing is nothing less than 5 years, you could get lucky but that is kind of the average and the returns are lumpy ie you don’t get a steady stream of returns but one or two lumpy payments if the companies you invest in gets an exit. So, why would someone go through all this pain to make a living… well, the same reason why an Entrepreneur goes through all the pain to start a company and build things of value. There is a reason it is called Angel Capital :)

Back to practical matters, John shared with me a template for a conference that he has organized in Seattle, called the Seattle Angel Conference. I think it is a sensible model that could work to bring new investor groups into the world of Angel investing and Venture investing. For everything we need a few good women and men, and John has assembled that group in Seattle. I have invited him to come and share his experience in Startup Iceland. The gist of Angel Conference is pretty simple:

  1. A group of Angel’s come together form a Limited Liability Company (LLC or ehf in Iceland)
  2. Each of the members commit capital ie $5000 each
  3. LLC Manager is elected
  4. 6 to 10 weeks of due diligence is conducted by the group that came together
  5. 5 to 10 companies are picked to pitch during the conference
  6. A subset of the companies are funded by the LLC and all members can participate as mentors or advisors to the companies that were picked

This is an incredible value for Angel investors, a seasoned group can guide new Angel investors into the world of venture investing. This model is very similar to the Mentorship driven accelerators that have become so successful. Of all the things that have been said and done, everyone can learn when we collaborate and work together. I am big believe that bringing diverse group of people together and throwing a challenge to them and providing the right incentive can facilitate solution to any problem. I think Iceland needs a better class of Investors, other than the posers! we need someone really committed to building the startup ecosystem. koma svo!

September 4, 2012

Guest Post: Ragnar Fjölnisson Founder of

We have a guest post from Ragnar Fjölnisson, the founder of Datatracker.  Datatracker helps business professionals gather disperse online data and convert it into a structured dataset which then can be integrated with business intelligence software for further analysis. Our solution makes it easy for sales and marketing professionals to automate the collection of competitive data. Datatracker is one of the Startup Reykjavik companies and have been receiving good amount of media attention. They have now been selected as one of the finalists for the Artic15, a competition for startups in the Nordic and Baltic countries. Here is Ragnar’s experience of applying and being nominated for the award:

Arctic15 here we come!

Image Source: Arctic 15 The annual conference for Nordic and Baltic growth entrepreneurs

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon, a technology news site which focuses on tech startups and growth companies in the Nordic and Baltic countries. The site is targeted at startup enthusiasts and reports on product launches, funding news and investor events similar to but with focus on Northern Europe territory.
Since I discovered this website I have added it into my daily web surfing routine. Eventually I found out about their annual investor conference called Arctic15, where they select 15 startups to present towards potential investors based in the Nordics and Baltics.
After watching the Arctic15 trailer from 2011, we at Datatracker didn’t hesitate to apply. Because we had been preparing for our pitch in StartupReykjavik it took roughly 10 minutes to throw together a application to fit their format.
This morning we received news that we had been nominated as semi-finalists in the Best Enterprise Startup category. There are 14 categories, including Best Product Launch, Best Consumer Startup and Best Gaming Startup and the winner of each category, which is decided by public vote and a supporting decision by a secret jury, will get to pitch on stage at Arctic15 on October 18th.

We are absolutely thrilled to have been nominated. Arctic15 is the premier industry event for Nordic and Baltic startups and growth companies. The conference was organised for the first time last year with some 400 people attending, and last year’s Arctic15 finalists raised $12.85 million in 10 months following the conferences.

We did not have high hopes that we would be considered for this event, but it goes to show that you never know unless you apply! Now we are determined to win the public vote and we encourage all Icelandic startup enthusiasts to go to the Arctic15 website and vote datatracker as the best enterprise startup. This conference needs Icelandic representatives, don’t you agree?

For investors and entrepreneurs interested in attending the conference, don’t forget to check out the program schedule here:

August 21, 2012

Whats Next – Start Selling

We have a guest post again by Ashwin Bhambri on what the next things the teams should focus on now that Startup Reykjavik is over. I think he has good points and strategies on moving again. It is hard after all the hype and now it is real life, the teams needs to get on the road, meet customersand try to do what I call the hardest of things to do… SELL. I have included the new Startup Curve, which is what typically happens after a big rush of media blitz, everyone wanting to meet with you as the founder and everyone saying how you crushed it in the presentation (guilty as charged!) etc but the reality is that the teams are still in their infancy and they need to go through the Product to Market Fit phase and then through creating a Repeatable Business Model phase and while doing all this they need to build a team culture, develop processes, maintain customer interest and solicit investors if the teams are starting to run out of money. Did I mention that doing a startup is HARD!



Startup Rekyjavik has been an amazing experience and it’s now come to an end.  As startup founders we are faced with the question where do we go from here and what should be our next move. This is a typical scenario faced by every startup exiting an accelerator around the world

Startup’s move on with investor liaison, completing the product and the tons of other things start-ups do nevertheless there is a one thing that is a must do for every startup exiting an accelerator program. Start meeting customers and focus on sales, I repeat start selling whatever you have built in the last three months irrespective weather its good, bad or ugly

Sales and getting customers is the reality that’s hit me in the face today. I am still hesitant about our MVP and think it’s not refined enough however I do have to take into account that I have just few days left in Iceland and if I dont make an attempt to sell this is going to be a lost opportunity. Secondly, talks with investors are going to be futile if you cannot demonstrate customers interest and last but not the lest you wont believe how big a motivator getting customers is. Taking a page out of the ‘Do more faster’ book authored by Brad Field & David Cohen refer to the ‘Be Tiny Until You Shouldn’t Be’ chapter where a startup failed to raise funding but started selling and got cash flow positive

I have a few sales tips that could work for whatever its worth

  1. When you meet investors, ask them for sales leads. This would build their confidence in your startup
  2. All start-ups share the noting that their product is not ready so engage potential clients by asking for feedback and you can sell to the interested ones down the line
  3. Invite potential customers to attend focus groups. This might be a tough one to pull off but works amazingly well
  4. Contact you mentors and ask them for references
  5. Email marketing works
  6. Don’t forget approaching friends & family
  7. Use LinkedIn, it’s amazing

Would it not be amazing to connect with an investor with the alibi ‘we got customers and need money to service them’ maybe you can help us with that.

August 19, 2012

Startup Reykjavik 2012 – Done!

I was so pleased to see the participation of the investor community in the Investor Day of Startup Reykjavik 2012. It was a fantastic pitch day, all the teams did a great job… it showed how well they had prepared, their message was powerful and there was passion in their presentations. I am also biased because I was one of the mentors and supporter of the initiative, but that should not take anything away from the teams. The organizers Innovit, Klak and Arion Bank really were committed and it showed. I was very proud in the after party to see everyone enjoying themselves… the community came together. A couple of them were suggesting that I should be the first marathoner to run Reykjavik Marathon hung over! I passed on that fabulous and probably painful idea. Now that the program is done, the teams have been having meetings with the investor community. I am eager to see how the local investor community steps up to the challenge. It is quite interesting that I am reading Brad Feld‘s Startup Communities book right now and he categorizes the Investors community as Feeders in the Startup Ecosystem.

Source: Startup Communities

At the early stage, raising money is hard, figuring out which deals are good is hard, and everything else associated with getting a company up and running is hard, so what’s the big deal? Rather than struggle with this, investors should recognize that they are feeders into the startup community, play a long-term game, and work hard to help support the development of their startup communities.

So I am going to start lobbying with the investor community to take the plunge just like all the entrepreneurs did, write checks without expecting anything back and see how this turns out. I am confident that this will transform the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Iceland. We are starting to implement the strategies outlined in the book by Brad. We did Startup Iceland a conference focused on Entrepreneurship and Startups, I am committed to make this a yearly event. We have Startup Reykjavik, which is a mentorship driven accelerator program to build new companies. We also have regular Hackathons which was initiated in Startup Iceland and in October we will have Music HackDay. I have reached out to the Reykjavik University and they are very motivated to support more Hackathons. Another weekly event that I would like to initiate is Entrepreneurship Book Club, we discussed the Lean Startup book at the beginning of the year and I want to continue on that tradition to start another book discussion. I believe if we consistently do this with a long term vision in mind we will create an ecosystem that thrives on itself. It takes commitment, vision and participation from all the stakeholders. There are many strategies that I have listed here, each could be a blog post. I would encourage everyone interested in building an sustainable startup ecosystem in Iceland to read the book Startup Communities, as Brad covers the story of Startup Iceland and he was generous enough to allow me to write a couple of pages in the book. Here I leave you with the video of Startup Reykjavik Year 1.

August 13, 2012

Startup Reykjavik – Investor Day

Today we have a guest post by Kristján Kristjánsson, one of the organizers of Startup Reykjavik and CEO of Innovit. I am going to the Investor day in Startup Reykjavik, if you know of an Angel investor in the Icelandic investor community, they should participate in the Investor Day or if you have been thinking about becoming an angel investor here is your chance to get into the deal flow, you should get a chance to meet with other angel and venture investors to build your network and start investing in your community.

StartupReykjavik Investment day – August 17th, go? #Friday

StartupReykjavik is Icelands first and only accelerator program. Ten teams were picked out of 200 applicants, given 16k, housing and mentorship to go as far as they could with their businesses in ten weeks. Every day they have showed up for work to listen to roughly 50 mentors giving advice in business models, networking and pitching, with hope to get their business going to create value.

Next friday (August 17th, 2012), all these teams will pitch in front of an audience of investors seven minutes each, hoping to find the right investor, explaining why that would make sense and showing of their final products that they have worked on during the period.

There are two ways to attend the event.

1. Reception at Arion-Bank headquarters, Borgartún 5, 101 Reykjavík
2. Online live stream from the event.

If you are an investor and would like to attend or view online streaming, don’t hesitate to ask for an invite and we will send you the invitation and live stream link.

Other reasons you should attend?
1. Are you a runner? Icelands biggest Marathon is on Saturday, August 18th. Sign up here
2. Do you like culture? Culture night 2012 is the country’s largest one-day culture event, with thousands activities for tourists and locals alike ending with big fireworks on midnight.
3. The country has some of the most amazing landscapes known to man. If you like the pure atmosphere, in your in for a treat. (video made by one of the participants

The teams:

When Gone
First and foremost. WhenGone services people who face premature death, people that are losing their health and people that face risks in everyday life. Through when gone, everyone can leave their loved ones their greatest stories, memories and words in person. Thus allowing people of all ages, races and economic level to leave their legacy for generations to come.

Startupville is a place for investors and start-ups to play the investing game. A social game where investors make virtual investments in real start-ups for virtual equity and in the process they interact, get to know each other better and have fun. It’s also about the investor – startup relationship transcending to a real one where an investor gets to be proactive in the progress of a startup

Mymxlog is a professional online software service for airline, operators and technicians. They enable management of licences, certificates, training and experience necessary to maintain aircraft in accordance with european regulations.

Cloud Engineering is a developing advanced techniques to extract data from a wide range of web-pages and other data sources quickly, reliably and robustly, without requiring any specialised knowledge of programming concepts, HTML structure, or regular expressions. And all within your browser ö no installs required. Our customers will be able to extract online market intelligence which will give them a competitive edge in an ever more competitive world.

Designing Reality
A solution based company specialising in Imaging technology and custom solutions. Offering highly accurate and realistic looking three-dimensional models from photographs.

Live Shuttle
Live-Shuttle is a service for smart phone users to share their experience live. The service allows the user share live footage from his travels around the world and friends and family to stay updated on his current location. Upon returning from a trip the user has a photo or video map of his travels. All incoming media is geo-tagged and sorted to provide the world with live footage from every possible location simultaneously which allows Live Shuttle to broadcast live from interesting events like Music Festivals, Natural Disasters or protests to name a few.

RemindMe is an automatic medical dispenser. For medication to be effective people have to take them according to their doctors advice. Unfortunately only 50% of people take their medicine correctly. Remind me intends to increase medical compliance and people’s quality of life by using a new reminding service for the elderly and forgetful.
Provide high quality lyrics, lessons and guitar tabs to users. One stop shop for lyrics, chords and lessons.

No one is more aware of his health than the individual himself. People should therefore have the opportunity to access their own health related data and be able to make informed decisions regarding those matters. will be the portal where you can request your data to be sent to, where you can add your own information and analyse and compare your health situation to others. Heilsufar is about modernising the area of personal healthcare information

Stream Tags
Stream Tags make more value out of the movie experience by giving viewers the opportunity to tag movies and provide information and buying opportunities relevant for the viewer.

August 12, 2012

2 ways to get an Investor Meeting

Jan Schultink is in Iceland on holiday, he contacted me a couple of months back and asked if he could spend some time with the Startup Reykjavik Teams to mentor them for their presentation for the upcoming Demo Day. I obviously said YES! and connected him to Kristjan. For those of you who don’t know the first batch of Startup Reykjavik will present to a invited list of investors on Demo Day on August 17th. Jan has blogged about it here. I wrote about pitching to an investor. Jan used to work for McKinsey, a strategy consulting firm and I have been very impressed with the firm and the work they do.

Idea Transplant: The Art of Pitching VCs

The fact that he wants to teach us some of the tricks of the trade is huge and I am taking advantage of that. I am planning to be there. Startup Reykjavik organizing team has made it into an open presentation, so if you have an hour and want to participate show up at  Armuli 13 around 11:00. I think we will learn something. I truly believe one has to take time to build beautiful presentations but it is a balance. I have seen enough pitches to know which ones stick and which don’t. The usual format of a demo day is 6 to 7 minutes for a startup to pitch their idea, product and traction. Although it seems like 6 to 7 minutes is not a lot a time, believe me it is more than enough to get an investor to want to meet with you. I have been telling every entrepreneur who would listen that the key to the pitches is to get a follow up meeting. Investment decisions especially in a startup is a lengthy process, you as the entrepreneur need to make sure that you are providing all the decision point data to the investor so the cycle gets shorter. Having someone like Jan help you get that message and content organized properly is extremely important. Check out some of the presentations that he has prepared. They are impressive.

Idea Transplant: Six minute startup pitch

Oh, I forgot to mention what the 2 ways to get an investor meeting… if you have figured it out by now then you get 10 points! otherwise read on:

  1. Presentation has to be beautiful and professional ~ Memorable
  2. Pitch the problem, sell the problem and leave the audience with a bit of your solution and why they need to talk to you more ~ Make them want more

There are obviously many micro strategies to implement the above two big ideas, I am hoping to learn a lot listening to Jan tomorrow.

July 18, 2012

Angel and Seed Investor Awards – Guest Post

This is the first post of the “Welcome to Post on Wednesdays!” blog post in Startup Iceland. This post is a follow up post by Ashwin Bhambri and I think he has a point on trying to bring awareness, attention and glamour to the early stage investors. I am seriously thinking of including an award show as part of Startup Iceland 2013… what do you all think?

Image source: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Isn’t Angel Investing underrated or more so undervalued? The impact it can have on the global economy today is under estimated, as almost every third startup or small business requires to raise pre-revenue finance that banks or other organized institutions would typically not fund. Seed / angel investing is the only alternative left to the entrepreneur.

Angel investing is underrated simply because as a concept it is underutilized. There are just not enough proactive angel investors or money in angel / seed asset class for this activity to be considered mainstream or a serious factor in the building of economies.

Nevertheless, the potential of angel / seed financing and the overall impact it can create is colossal. If Peter Thiel had not to take a chance on Facebook it may not be the Facebook we all know today. Time and time again, those investors who took a leap of faith and invested in Angel rounds dramatically changed the course of history for many rockstar companies today starting from Google to Facebook to Twitter.

To be fair, Investing is also about capitalism and the simple theory if one does not see a return one will not invest applies. Arriving at an ROI from a pre-revenue start-up is not exactly pragmatic and an angel investor takes a huge risk here – What makes them invest is

a. They like the startup team, want to help and give back in the process
b. Their gut feel prevails over logic and tells them to go with a start-up.

Investors who repeatedly make angel / seed investments build the startup ecosystem and should be honoured with recognition and accolades for their contribution. There should be an attempt to glamorize angel investing and this could be the rocket fuel that catalysts more investors to join the angel bandwagon and can lead to more investment activity.

How do we do this?  For starters there can be the Grammy and/or Oscar equivalent for investors or the Angel & Seed Investor Awards where active investors making investments are nominated and awarded,  as investors are the early heroes of any startup ecosystem.
Glamour is also an amazing communication medium to a large audience and could convert traditional investors who typically invest in established listed companies to become angel investors.

Iceland could be the world’s accelerator of this initiative as the time & environment is optimum. Thus far I have not come across any Investor Awards event that is mainstream and it’s about time someone takes the initiative and makes it happen. If it fails it fails, if it succeeds it could do for the rise of angel investing what y-Combinator did for the rise of startup accelerators and that’s definitely a risk worth taking

June 25, 2012

Calling all Angels

I have been focusing a lot on writing about Entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship and what does it take to succeed as a startup. I think one of the key links in the sustainable startup ecosystem is a steady flow of capital into the startup ecosystem. Typically, in other regions an entrepreneur who has an exit invests the money back into the startup ecosystem and I think that is the sustainable way, so how do you do this when there are no successful exits? or if a region is just starting up or has had a collapse like what we have experienced in Iceland? We need a some Angels, who are willing to invest in a team and are willing to work on making that team succeed. I believe that is what Me and my partners did when we first invested in CLARA in late 2009. I met the team when they did not have a product or a market fit and I mentored them to be investment ready. The jury is still out if they will survive the onslaught of the market but I believe we have a great team and a good market that we have found a fit for our product. Now we just need to execute a repeatable business sales model. Anyways, I digress.. the key is to get new investors into the game. How do we do that? Just like we need new teams to jump into the startup bandwagon we need new investors as well. We cannot always rely on the usual suspects, i.e the Angels who have invested before and continue to participate.

New investors jump in only when they trust a system that is conducive for investing and has a clear education and track record, which according to many people is not the case in Iceland. I disagree but then again I have a long term view of the world so I tend to see things in a lot broader horizon than most people. Yes, there are a lot of challenges, the foreign currency control is a drag, the new bureaucracy in a pain, getting access to capital is even harder than it usually is et cetra et cetra et cetra… but I reject all these notions. They are only important if you are speculating in the short to medium term, I think we need to involve a new breed of investors in Iceland who take a long view i.e 10 years or longer and are not afraid of investing in that time horizon. It does not mean you invest, lock the box and throw away the key for that time period. We need active participation of the investor group in the companies that they have invested in making significant progress in the short term, medium term and long term. We need a community of Investors who can share, learn and contribute to improving the investment climate in the region they are part of.

There are a number of examples of how one put this community together. I got connected in Facebook to John Sechrest who has organized many Angel Conferences and formed Angel Investor groups to invest in a startups. I want to organize an event that is focused on Angel investors. There is a lot of debate on whether rise of Angel investing is bad or good for the startups, all this is heresy. I believe there is a role of Angels and VCs and everyone in between to make a sustainable startup ecosystem to function. What do you think? do you have any ideas or suggestions on how we can get new investors to participate in investing in Startups?


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