There are many questions that entrepreneurs have to face when looking to build and fund startups such as when to raise funds, how much to raise and where to find investors.
To address some of these questions, NCET held a panel discussion luncheon titled Introduction to Startup Funding on Wednesday, March 8 at the Atlantis Resort Casino Spa. The event allowed local experts and investors to share insight on funding for scalable startups — in terms of this article, scalability is a company’s ability to maintain or increase its level of performance or efficiency when tested by larger operational demands.
Panelists at the event included Kathie Priebe, an angel investor who is activity involved with Reno Angels, Sierra Angels, Summit VMS and Golden Seeds, Craig Macy, an attorney with Fennemore Craig, Kevin Lyons, co-founder and CEO of Governance Sciences Group and Doug Erwin, vice president for entrepreneurial development of EDAWN, who served as the moderator at the event.
Priebe explained that most entrepreneurs cannot grow their company to a significant size and take a significant role in the market solely with their own revenue stream and investments from friends and family. Additional funds from investors allow entrepreneurs to be able to scale their business.
While gaining investors can help scale a company, there are also disadvantages to angel investors.
“It comes with a price,” Priebe said. Bringing in outside investors often means having to give up some control of the company. “So it is kind of a trade off that might not be for you or it might be.”
The panel also gave some insight into what investors are looking for when they are pitched ideas. It is important to be able to show that there is a demand in the market for the product or service.
“If you think you have a great idea, my first response (as an investor) is going to be how do you know?” Lyons said.
Priebe agreed. She explained that angel investors are using their own money, unlike venture capitalists, therefore they look closely in terms of risks and rewards before making an investment.
“At least 50 percent of any investment has to do with a team,” Priebe said. “ … The other 50 percent, for me, is the market.”
Angel investors know that at least 50 percent of the companies that they invest in will lose money.
“The investor wants to make money so you need to make your company irresistible,” Lyons said.
However, Macy said that investors think about more than just return on investments. They also weigh factors such as tax credits, potential for future acquisitions, a personal belief in the startup they invest in, etc.
Erwin stressed that entrepreneurs need to make sure that their vision for their business also aligns with the people investing in their company. It is also important to look for angel investors who have some knowledge or interest in the market they are in.
“Because you are getting essentially married to the investors, it is really important to understand your motivations,” Erwin said.
It is about more than just money when finding investors. Startup founders need to consider an investor’s expertise, their connections with other people within the industry and how they can help in acquiring additional capital in the future.
When asked the best way to research investors, the panelists agreed that networking is key.
NCET will host a second panel discussion to the Introduction to Startup Funding, and additional networking opportunities, at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 3 at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. For more information, visit www.ncet.org.