Advisors · Fundraising

In what areas do you look for startup advisors?

David Feldman Data Analyst at Scribd

April 9th, 2015

FounderDating just published "The Top 15 Most Requested Expert Areas for Startup Advisors" (based on their pretty large Advisor network). Some of the list is predictable, but I was surprised that more people aren't looking for technical advisors or Product related advisors. I was also surprised Fundraising is #1. Are any of you surprised by this and/or what areas would you have expected to see?

William Liberman CEO of BookTracks

April 9th, 2015

As the founder of a start-up I can say the list seems very reasonable. The key word here is "advisors."

With technical items, you often need execution; not advice. Most start-up founders/co-founders have the technical skills required to make a basic version of their product function. Any technical skills needed can also be sub-contracted or aquired by hiring employees to fill the gaps. That's also probably why you don't see other business critical "technical" skills like lawyer or accountant on the list.

However, founders often lack the business and leadership experience required to run/grow the business, attract customers, manage their employees, etc. These key strategic business elements cannot be easily outsourced or delegated without abdicating responsibility/control of the company. Founders have no choice but to learn these strategic skills. Learning from experience alone means putting the business at increased risk; learning from an advisor helps you get to the right path faster than blundering through the process alone.

Robert Travers Founder & CEO at Bobber, INC.

April 9th, 2015

I'm also not very surprised by the findings of the study. For similar views William outlined, there are many technical founders vs.business founders in start-ups and this drive the results we see in  the post,"Top 15 Most Requested Expert Areas For Start up Advisers." Also pointed out, is the inherent need for someone in the company to be a business minded leader (CEO) that can manage recruiting, sales, marketing, funding, growth, (from both inside the company and outwardly) and how that role is not easily outsourced or delegated. I couldn't agree more. 

Technical founders will need to take on and learn these new skills, evolving them into their mission and company, or hire an adviser or full-time person who can. I myself am a non-technical founder on the path towards running a product based company (mobile app). I wake up everyday thinking about the full business, both long term/short term, strategy, consumer behaviors, product market fit, funding resources, growth strategy, hiring, recruiting and last but not least Marketing. Product is and will always be center stage, but there are other key pieces that can't be ignored. 

Now in large part, is this the mindset of your best technical person? If yes, than you're on the right path. If no, then your most likely on the the list looking for an business adviser. Perhaps look for a business partner? In regards to funding being atop the list. Same story. Funding is mostly Sales and salespeople are generally not your technical founders. Sales, like funding, takes a unique skill set/person and is full-time job in order to generate consistent success/returns.  

I originally thought the article posted results for most desired "founders" and not "advisers," which I think would have been a bit more interesting to see the results skew that way.  I wonder if we can get FD to do a back to back post with the results for the "TOP 15 Most Requested Founder Expertise's ."  Would be cool to see!

Cheers,


Rob

LanVy Nguyen Founder & Managing Director at Fashion4Freedom

April 9th, 2015

It's unfortunate that entrepreneurs & founders are fixated on the "money" (though I do understand why).  The best advice I've heard pertaining to such is:  "If you seek money, ask for advice.  If you ask for money, you'll only get advice." 

With respect to PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, it's no surprise that founders don't necessarily seek advice for that as one would risk having too many cooks in the kitchen.    Product development is more than simply developing a product; a product is designed to serve a particular purpose for a particular genre/demographic.  Without the core understanding of purpose, price, and people....asking/getting advice for product development becomes a game of (to use an engineering term)  mental masturbation.  

Joe Monastiero CEO, Founder nFlate

April 9th, 2015

The funding landscape has changed in recent years and raising early capital is much harder today than it was in 2012, for example. I do think that early stage fundraising needs to morph into a new paradigm or an unnecessarily large percentage of startups are going to wither and die.

Both the fundraising strategies of startups and the funding resources need to be overhauled. I think that the JOBS Act as it pertains to non-accredited investors is going to be key in this space.

Peter li.blueoyster~@~gmail.com] Peter Jones creates solutions for product USP, market messaging, team building, venture and other commercial capital

April 10th, 2015

I have studied the London Startup market for over two years, and in a hands on way.

The big issue is that startups don't perceive there are three stages:

1) Ideation - Bootstrapped
2) Growth - Tech Platform - £25K
3) Accelerate - Investors - £250K+

Far too many startups have a fuzzy view of the market place, and believe they only have to show up with an idea, never mind if they understand what traction is, and they will qualify for big money investment.

The market place stories of Facebook and Twitter, the less than 0.1% of all cases where this did happen, and an idea was backed to the hilt for years before it became profitable, are in fact very unhelpful.

The proliferation of accelerators has meant the market place is awash with talk of startups at stage 3, but far too little appreciation of how to bootstrap through stage 1 towards a workable opportunity that solves a real marketplace problem, offers value for money and yet is both sustainable and scalable.

The early stage startup has to learn all of that just to ge through stage 1 and achieving traction.

What we need, what I'm trying to achieve, is more discipline, structure and better marketplace education to understand and practice in stage 1, so as to successfully reach traction.

The issue for every tech team and accelerator is that bootstrappers have to work really hard to be able to fund that activity, since a product with no traction doesn't generate a sufficient income.

Both accelerators and tech providers need to do far more to support the mouth of the funnel, the ideation process, without simply raking off fees for themselves to support "current lifestyles".

Richard Branson is running a Pitch to Rich event with prizes right now, we'll see what comes of that. 

Peter Kestenbaum Advisor, Investor, Mentor to Emerging firms

April 10th, 2015

Perhaps the question is wrong... it should be in what area SHOULD you look for advisors..  We all understand money...  hate to sound like a broken record but good companies with potential (vs good ideas with limited potential because of narrow founder thinking) get funded...   Unique Go to Market strategies, securing early clients and partnerships,  different business models are of significant value..  Real time example... A firm with a decent mobile app for IOT..  Struggling for early traction and orders..  Now has their first client..  a Fortune 1000 by customizing their app and volunteering to make this "old line" company look cool in a trade show booth.  They would never perceive that client as a legit first revenue client but the fallout (PR) from the trade event built a pipeline of both prospects and investors. Thats the power of a good advisor in the go to market space.    He turned the conversation from help me sell to help me with a go to market strategy..

Alex Eckelberry CEO at Meros.io

April 9th, 2015

I basically spend most of my time doing advisory work. Inevitably, the question comes to "help us raise money". Oh well.

Tom Duffy

April 10th, 2015

fundraising and customer acquisition

Bill Kelley

April 10th, 2015

A simple formulaic answer isn't ideal, but in this context, I'll make it so:

Witht the funded entrepreneurs I deal with, its 1.) operations, 2.) marketing and 3.) managing people. 

With unfunded entrepreneurs, it's mostly about successfully chasing money and fleshing out the team. 

Tim Chater Venture Manager | Strategy | Marketing | Finance | Supply Chain | Planning | Fund Raising

April 13th, 2015

Environment for start-ups is critical. Here in UK, when I started out 5 years ago, there were no 'accelerators ', few 'incubators'  and only limited government aid. What has remained constant is poor level of advisors at this point. I totally agree that asking for advice is the best way forward to sort the wheat out from the chaff.

Hopefully, with all the new initiatives for entrepreneurial finance, startups will be easier to execute. Let the market speak post launch rather than pre launch.