Informative & Scope WYN

Two viewpoints: startups and investors

by Samar Al-Montser

The fact remains that startups and investors must marry ideas, effort and funds so that their business can become a lucrative enterprise. Here are their viewpoints on what can make that happen. WIEF’s IdeaLab is a platform where this can happen and where they get to work out business opportunities together. This year, it’ll be in Goa positively affecting the Indian startup ecosystem.

Going on its fourth edition, WIEF IdeaLab 2018 is expanding beyond the ASEAN region to focus on early stage startups in Goa, India on 16 – 17 October 2018 at the Goa Institute of Management. One of its many objectives is to promote entrepreneurship by addressing actions and policies needed in order to help build a startup support system in the next five years.

It’ll also explore the Indian startup ecosystem vision for 2025 and how startups can better engage with its ecosystem players. This gives a chance for angel investors to uncover how startups can find them.

Stories of success, failure and lessons learned will be shared to help explain how startups have managed their businesses. There’ll also be pitching platforms where upcoming startups will learn how to improve their pitches and appeal to investors and many workshops for startups to study the basic strategies for designing business models and more. Talented artists will also get a chance to display their talents while participants network and go about developing their business matters at IdeaLab 2018.

It takes a lot to build bridges and connections between ideas, startups and investors but they can converge on their own terms. Like two sides of the same coin they need each other without doubt.

From a startup’s point of view
For startups, pitching their idea to a panel of judges or investors is a dramatic experience but it helps better shape their startup ideas. Investors and judges ask questions like, what problems are you solving, how much do you want to be invested in and how will you use it, need to be thought out by startups thoroughly to ease their journey. This makes their ideas more attractive to investors.

For startups, pitching ideas to investors is very important as it not only gain them funding but also help them grow. Furthermore, even with previous pitching experience, to pitch their idea again and again can help develop it.

However, startups have to learn to improve and develop their skills and knowledge about their field. Investors would generally like to see startups who have brilliant ideas have an equal share of in-depth knowledge about their startup subject matter and how to develop it. Ashran Dato Ghazi, who is CEO of the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) said that this shortcoming could be bridged, facilitated or accelerated through a network of cooperation. That’s exactly what WIEF IdeaLab aims to do.

Though we’d like to think that ideas can always be improved no matter how many times they fail, failure does really happen. According to startup founder of TheLorry, failure is real, especially when the product or service fails to generate traction or accumulate customers to make it a success. This could be because of wrong strategies, wrong market segment targets or just poor management and no real market need. This is when major recalibration is required.

Five startup tips for pitching
The instant decision made about a startup pitch is like the life and death of a relationship so every tip and advise counts. The first advise is to know your audience. Silicon Valley investor, Guy Kawasaki advises in a talk with the Stanford Graduate School of Business, ‘If they [investors] say, “We’re only interested in technology and market and competition,” and then you address those three, they cannot complain’.

The second tip is to manage your time and keep it short and precise. The article The Abridged Guide to Pitching Your Startup  in Forbes tells startups to question, ‘Are the numbers you have exceptionally good relative to the amount of time you have been working?’ Basically, knowing what the numbers mean to your startup and how to convey that will help make better decision for the future for startups and investors.

The third tip is to practice. Startups don’t usually get it right from the first pitch and they get better at it. Social entrepreneur and lecturer at the Stanford Programme on Social Entrepreneurship, Kathleen Kelly writes in the StartupNation, ‘Don’t be discouraged if your first pitch didn’t go how you’d planned. It’s important to practice and work hard to learn the techniques of storytelling and public speaking’. Another good tip she mentions is, ‘Let that passion come through in your elevator pitch.’ There’s never too much dazzle to excite a pitch for a company.

However, don’t forget the key principle and the fifth very important tip is honesty. Samir Housri, principal at Rho Ventures, told the media and tech company, Mashable, ‘Don’t massage your numbers, [or] omit critical information that will impact the business or exaggerate the extent of your business partnerships.’ Being honest and thoughtful is key to any relationship.

From an investors’ point of view
If startups were hunters, what they hunt for will be the elusive investor, a venture capitalist or an angel investor who supports and administers funds to small businesses at either starting or expansion point. Basically, startups desiderate venture capitalists who hold their future in the palm of their moneyed hands.

However, these coveted creatures in the entrepreneurial sphere don’t simply wave magic wands to make funds appear. They do need a few tricks to raise them and their main one, of course, will be reaching out to their own network of investors.

In a past In Focus article, it was mentioned that, a fundamental problem in the startup world — especially in early financing — was that investors and startups were often referred to as being on opposite sides of the table. Ideally, they should be on the same side because investors should be prepared to roll up their sleeves and participate in building the product and developing the business model. However, this wasn’t the reality a couple of years ago, at least in Southeast Asia.

Due to their normally compact organisational structure, startups are already aware of their capability to innovate rapidly while corporations are the ones who have access to markets. Thus, synergistic linkups between the two will, obviously, be beneficial. Therein lies the vital role IdeaLab plays through being a meeting place for the two entities. It’s as if, metaphorically speaking, IdeaLab is the jungle in which beneficial explorations take place.

Last words
To summarise, investors look to invest in businesses that fit their decree specifically, and entrepreneurs they can work with, to develop the business. Furthermore, in this day and age of circular economy, there’s an increasing number of investors who include social purpose as a criterion. Social purpose certainly lends a meaningful tone to a business, thus the increasing success of social enterprises today.

This is not to say that money isn’t on their mind. Social purpose does bring in value of a different sort and both investors as well as startups should keep that in mind. So, don’t forget to coat your pitch with a healthy dose of passion and make your product or service’s story motivational because these will help build a compelling business.



IdeaLab, an initiative of WIEF Foundation’s Young Leaders Network (WYN), is a distinguished startup conference that cultivates entrepreneurs and assists in the development of startup ecosystems. IdeaLab’s relevance is from its assorted features that spur key players in the global startup ecosystem to network, share experiences, find ways to sustainably scale up and explore business collaborations. After three successful editions in Malaysia, IdeaLab is expanding beyond ASEAN with its first regional edition to be held in Goa, India, on 16 – 17 October 2018 with a primary focus in early stage startups.

To register your interest for WIEF IdeaLab 2018, click here.

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

24 Aug 2018
Last modified: 27 Aug 2018
share this article