Seeking venture capitalIf you’re looking for investment to expand your business, know that there are some important things to consider when seeking venture capital. First of all, not all venture capitalists (VCs) will be interested, so don’t contact them all. You’ll need to be careful when you consider who the opportunity might appeal to and you need to let them know why you think it would be of particular interest to them. Don’t go out contacting VCs at random – it’s a waste of precious time and energy. Richard Harroch, VC and author, says “It’s almost always harder to raise capital than you thought it would be, and it always takes longer. So plan for that.” It’s important that you don’t rely on investment too heavily and always have a backup plan. Another famous VC, Guy Kawasaki, has also written a book containing useful advice about pitching your idea. It’s called ‘The Art of the Start’ and offers a step-by-step approach to not just launching great products, but tackling the industry with creativity and determination. VCs are also using their own creativity to launch exciting new initiatives that budding technology entrepreneurs can benefit from. For example, UK-based VC Saul Klein recently founded SeedCamp.com, a coveted competition that anyone serious about growing a technology-oriented business should consider entering. If, after all of your hard work, you do get a pitch opportunity, make PowerPoint slides visual, compelling and not too long. Make sure you answer any questions in full and don’t exaggerate about what you think your company is worth – be realistic, acknowledge your rivals and deliver a realistic pitch that the investors will respect you for.
Listen to expertsThere are many ways in which you can get up-to-the-minute insight into the tech sector, but Twitter is a quick and easy way to get regular snippets of data and advice from the ever-changing world of tech. As an all-round tech entrepreneur himself, Brent Hoberman is a great account for getting data-focussed articles and leading-edge information about the tech world, particularly through retweets. He’s even followed by the prime minister, so that’s got to count for something! Tech goddess Julie Meyer is a mentor for entrepreneurs. She’s a regular tweeter and provides some great insights for entrepreneurs on start-ups, making her well worth following. Michael Acton-Smith is also worth having on your list. As founder of Mind Candy, Acton-Smith has some great insights to offer. He tweets regularly and even makes the time to respond to tweets from many of his followers, answering questions in the tech field and advising fellow entrepreneurs.
Know the competition…and keep an eye on what they’re doing! That doesn’t mean stealing their ideas (originality is key) but it does mean knowing your USPs in comparison to their brands. What do you offer that they don’t? Are you speaking to a slightly different audience? How do your business plans reflect that? Dr James Hickie, a Lecturer in Enterprise at Manchester Business School, says: “What is essential when developing a technology business is to ensure that you have a product that customers want. Brilliant inventions do not always make great businesses. Do your market research and continually make sure there is a market for your technology product as you develop it, and plan carefully how you will take it to market. Also, research carefully what investment options are available, as you may need funding in order to develop and manufacture your product.” The tech world can be a baffling place for the budding entrepreneur, but if you keep your ear to the ground, plan ahead and always have the courage of your convictions, you’re already half way to success.
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