ELIAN D. ALVAREZ

- VENTURE CAPITAL - ANGEL INVESTMENT -
- ENTREPRENEURSHIP - LATAM - INNOVATION -
- INVESTMENTS - PRIVATE EQUITY - FINANCE -

Struggles of Entrepreneurs Based on Investors’ Perception

Oct
12

The first quarter of 2017 was closed with a total financing of $27 billion worldwide and the hot sectors in the world of Venture Capital (VC) have been fintech and technology. Despite the booming industry, VC has its own ups and downs.

 

Overlooking Entrepreneurs

Innovation has always been at the heart of the United States and the country has always encouraged entrepreneurship, yet, the ideas are often overlooked when it comes to immigrants and women in the sector.

Jerry Nemorin, the founder of LendStreet, is a fine example of that case. He initiated a company to support individuals who find it difficult to pay off their debt. He looks for people who are struggling with loan repayments, buy and consolidate their debt and refinance it at a fair rate of interest. Despite such a brilliant idea, he struggled with raising funds. According to him, investors recognize a defined pattern and the chances of funding the idea of a black person who is out to solve poor people’s problem are very low.

However, he is not alone. There are a large number of entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas who have been struggling with raising funds. Less than 1% investment in new startups goes to people of color, whereas, 10% investment goes to female entrepreneurs. Only 15% of the Unicorns that are making over $200 billion have made it to the real-world industries for day to day dealings.

 

Blind Spots – Another Cause Behind the Struggles

In an economy that promotes innovation, a lot of the best ideas are left out of the conversation due to blind spots.

  • Bias

Bias is the first blind spot that they face. Although, investors don’t do that intentionally, yet, it happens. Investors tend to invest in the ideas that come from people like them.

A study was conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research in which it was identified that applications that read ‘Greg’ got more calls as compared to the résumés that had the word ‘Lakisha’. This is not surprising, because only 5 percent of the partners in VC firms are female, whereas, people of colors are significantly lesser than that, i.e., less than 1 percent. Hence, the distribution of funding is largely based on the decision makers who are investors in this case.

  • Availability Bias

This is another blind spot that comes in the way of funding the brilliant ideas. Investors tend to invest in the ideas that are closest to them, or the last good idea they heard, versus the best. Almost 80 percent of the money goes to the firms that are situated within 30 miles of the investors.

  • Two-way Thinking

Lastly, most investors have two-way thinking when it comes to funding the ideas. Many people believe that they should focus on making a profit from a business, regardless of whether it is good or bad for the society at large, while engaging in philanthropy and nonprofit activities for the benefit of the society without paying much heed to financial sustainability.

Jerry’s idea supports this ideology, i.e., making a profit from a business that helps people in paying off their loan.

 

Overcoming the Blind Spots

Although, these blind spots are deep-rooted, yet, people can overcome these obstacles if they make an intentional effort to welcome new ideas. Kapor Capital intentionally invested in LendStreet to support Jerry’s idea. As a result, an initial investment of $500,000 turned into a portfolio of 40 million dollars, which enabled Jerry to refinance the financial statements of thousands of families in the U.S.

 

These ideas are available in abundance, but investors have to look closely and more carefully to fund new startups based on the merit so as to reap substantial benefits.

Wave of Change in the VC Sector

Sep
01

Every day many venture capitalists invest in startups with the hope that it will be yet another unicorn. Venture capitalists are a type of investors who are also futurologists. They invest in new businesses with an anticipation that it will turn out to be the next Facebook or Uber and their investment will multiply several times.

A perfect example of such investment is the one made by Mark Tluszcz in Skype. In 2001, he invested $2.5 million and now is worth $250 million.

Investors have the chance of winning big or losing all of their investment. Tluszcz also shared his experience stating that 50 percent of the startups they invest in, end up as a failure; 20 percent of these investments only make as far as returning their investment money and another 20 percent increase their stake three times. It is the remaining 10 percent that makes it big, he added, and keep the venture capital (VC) firms going.

 

A Wave of Change in the VC Sector

Keeping all of this in mind, it is an undeniable truth that VC firms have undergone massive changes over the last two decades.

In the UK, the amount of investment by venture capitalists has increased from £453 million to £1961 million between 2011 and 2016. A number of these firms are filled with entrepreneurs who are passionate about building a business and not just a career.

 

Lack of Diversity

Despite all the changes, there is still a lack of diversity in the sector. Debbie Wosskow, a VC investor who was once an entrepreneur, came face to face with the harsh reality that 95 percent of all the investments made by venture capitalists go to male-led startups and most of these investments are made by male venture capitalists.

According to a research in Harvard Business Review, when it comes to female entrepreneurs, the focal point of venture capitalists is always toward potential losses, but with male founders, they look at it from the perspective of potential gains. Regardless of what the reason is, things have started to change in the VC sector.

 

Wind of Change — A Step Toward Revolutionizing the VC Sector

According to a venture capitalist, Suranga Chandratillake, said that those who present their ideas before a group of investors have to sell their idea of making it big. He further said that investors need a convincing idea that has a potential to generate good profits and not a presentation that just talks about becoming another unicorn like Uber. Investors need to see that entrepreneurs are not just into organic growth; in fact, they should be willing to take risks of revolutionizing the entire sector with a proper plan and potential to bring the right people in their team.

 

Self-awareness — A Trait of Successful Entrepreneurs

Another venture capitalist, Jillian Manus, believes the best ideas come from those startups where one partner has a sales and operation background whereas the other one is into technology. They come together as a team to sell their idea along with a well-devised plan of how they will achieve their goals. She added that a founder must be honest with exciting ideas as the most important question she asks the entrepreneurs is to tell how they failed. Those who say they have never failed are either hiding the truth or they lack self-awareness.

To secure an investment, a founder of a new startup should show that they have learned from their mistakes and be honest about it as it enables them to identify a problem ahead of time. All in all, venture capitalists do believe that honesty is the best policy when it comes to investing in new startups, because if an entrepreneur needs a venture capital, he or she must tend to scale up and expand their business quickly.