On February 11, I attended, Uppstart, my first start up event in Stockholm. It was quite a unique experience as it was held at the Uppsala castle; I have never attended a business event at a castle before.
The event started off the panel of investors introducing themselves and giving some useful tips for start ups. There were quite a few insightful points mentioned.
First of all, the panel informed us that the investment environment is much different from 5 years ago. Investment rounds are now longer and investors are willing to fund longer projects. The investment environment is less hostile overall. Many investors will still continue investing even when some start-ups are not making profits for a period of time.
One important tip for start-ups is to get funding when you can, not when you need it. The panels said that they have seen too many start-ups missed funding opportunities because they felt that they already have enough funding. Some came to regret it later. It is always better to have extra funds as the road of a start-up is very unpredictable.
Another tip is to demonstrate what can a start-up do without or minimal funding. Investors are more impressed with what you can do in your current state than what you plan to do if you have the funds. Being able to do a lot of little funding demonstrates a start-up resourcefulness.
The panel at Uppstart said that they look at 4 main criteria when investing in a start up. Team, Attraction, Market and Barriers.
Team: A team should have the right talent to pull off the project.
Attraction: The idea should be attractive enough to the investor
Market: The market should be ready to adopt the product or service
Barriers: Barriers to entry to the industry is a critical factor. This includes current big players and the network effect. Some apps are only useful if they have a large number of users(network effect), even if the app is really better than the competitor, without the network effect it may not take off.
3 companies pitched during the start up event which I felt were not very good ideas. In fact, they did not make much of an impression such that I do not remember much about them. One of the ideas to regulate the temperature of the heaters in the house to save energy, another one was an event manager app, I can’t remember the third one. The panel discussion was much better than the start-up pitching.
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