A Deloitte Fast 50 and 5 times INC 500/5000 ranked serial entrepreneur, Suresh Kumar is an engaged-scholar deeply immersed in entrepreneurial practice, research, learning, and policy. He is the key-founder of 3 high-growth technology startups- all of which he lead to successfull exits- and Angel Investor in 5 early stage startups. Suresh completed his doctoral degree in 2011 with a study on high-growth Asian American immigrant entrepreneurs which has been widely presented and published. Suresh has presented papers, conducted professional development workshops, and mentored at the Academy of Management Annual Conference, the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference, the International Council of Small Business, the Australian Center for Entrepreneurship Exchange, the Startup Weekend, and INC. He is an advisor to several social sector organizations that are focused on large scale social change including Ashoka, South Asian Americans Leading Together, and TIE. Suresh currently serves a Professor of Practice - Innovation and Entrepreneurship at New Jersey Institute of Technology, NJ and as Senior Advisor to Board of Directors at 8K Miles Software Services - a Silicon Valley based Secured Cloud Solutions firm. Previously he served as Lean Startup mentor at the Eugene Lang entrepreneurship center at Columbia Business School and at SBDC Rutgers Business School, NJ. As a result of his expertise in practice, experiential learning, research, policy advocacy, and his engagement with emerging global mega-trends in the field of entrepreneurship education, Suresh has unique insights into designing sustainable entrepreneurship eco-system.
Very important question that is often overlooked. I think empathy and emotional support are critical factors. Entrepreneurship especially the startup years, can sometimes feel very lonely. During this time u want to have a partner who understands you even without a detailed explanation.
Also critical is someone who can ask tough questions but will stay the course with you especially during tough financial decisions such as taking out money from a retirement account or a home equity to pay for employee salaries, etc.
My research into high growth Indian American immigrant entrepreneurs showed clear evidence that spousal support was a key factors that helped them stay the course during tough economic conditions.
Let me know if I be of further help!
BTW let us know how it goes :)
Great advise from Tom and David. After you have validated your idea using some of the suggestions listed above. you may want to identify an industry expert as a co-founder or
partner. The combination of an outside who can see an opportunity from a fresh perspective and an insider who knows the challenges and key levers of the industry has the potential of solving problems.
Good luck !
As someone who has been down this road a few times, the good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Although it may sound like a cliche, the fact is that adversity that often creates loneliness and self doubts - also builds character and confidence. In my case it forced me to go far beyond my comfort zone as a entrepreneur and as a result I ended up learning lot more and achieving lot more than I ever though possible. So when you feel lonely go learn a new sport, join a online course, attend a conference, do some social networking, and post a few question on Clarity. You will find many friends here. Good Luck!
This is the Billion $ question for which there could be a Billion answers. I can share my personal experiences based on some the mistakes I made during my early startup days (post 911). First, I am concerned that you have built an enterprise software solution without a 'First Customer' or even 'First Few Customers'. I am aware that you or members of your team may have industry insights, but it always helps to work WITH your initial few clients as you design and develop an enterprise application, so that you have the opportunity to interact with the client and make changes and enhance the solution to meet the real needs of the client.
Given that you now have an application and a potential client, your key task now is to research the client needs and issues in great depth (not just the industry in general) so that you are ready to pivot your presentation in response to the client needs. However great you think your application is, I can assure you that if it is not tested with several potential clients during the design, development and testing stages- you should ready for some surprises.
Coming to the question about concessions, it depends if you are coming from a position of strength or weakness. Needless to say, you are always better off when you have a tested solution that addresses the most critical needs of the client and you are OK walking away from a bad deal. If you do not have a customer and badly need the 1st so that you can showcase them to other prospects, I believe that it is OK to allow them some concessions such as a 30 day free trial, a performance guarantee, some extra licenses, free training or upgrades for 12 months, etc as long as they allow you to use their name in for marketing and publicity. Access to the CEO/Founder is a big deal to the Customer - so offer it if you can.
One final advice- instead of a formal sales presentation, tell your story in a way that is emotional and compelling. Talk about the wealth of professional experience of your Founders, show that your firm cares deeply about the customer, how your product can help improve their business. Weave these into one seamless narrative that is authentic and honest. Be confident but also be humble- remember that you are the startup. Start by asking questions and let the client talk about the issues.
Let me know if can be of any more help.
There are several factors you need to consider such as what other resources you have available for the business, the current gross/ net profits, are there other founders taking salaries, what are the available opportunities for you to defer your salary and put it toward growing the business, etc
In my case being the key founder in very tough economic cycle I had no choice but not to take a salary for the first few years. Even after my venture was cash flow positive I took half my normal salary and showed the balance as deferred comp - so that it was reflected on the books - and available for me later to take as salary or put towards equity
You used the term Potential 1M revenue firm so I am not sure where u stand now - happy to give more insights if u can give me more 'Clarity' !
In all my 15 years as a founder, I never engaged an advisor based on a cover latter. So I suggest that it is waste of time. You can get much better results by doing some indept research about the prospect and their pain points, and thinking thru how you can add value with specific strategies/ideas. Think about all variables and multiple options. Then use your social and professional networks to get to meet the key decision makers. Finally make you case. If you do a good job you will get hired!
Having been at the table for a few M&A deals, I will like to add couple of reasons among many others First is the patience shown by the WhatsApp leadership in finding the right strategic buyers as they rapidly scaled by the numbers of users - and second excellent negotiation skills by the WhatsApp management team - most folks would have been ecstatic to sell a company for 1.6 B - but it is apparent that WhatsApp team knew they get much higher valuations if they found the right strategic buyer. I am sure it was not an easy decision and but turned out to be a great call !