I am a fairly easy-going person. My feathers don’t get too ruffled that often. I like to think it’s because I’m somewhat logical, and usually can see the forest for the trees. My friend, who is a specialist in Meyers-Briggs personality testing and analysis, tells me it is the ENTP in me. People of that “type”, she says, are typically future oriented and optimistic about it. If something is of interest to me, my general philosophy in life is: “Let’s do it! We’ll figure out how to make it work.”
So, when I decided to make a significant (for me) investment in two separate start-up companies earlier this year, that way of thinking was put to the test. Both of the business ideas met two of my most important criteria: 1.) potential for doing well financially and 2.) potential for making a better world. You know, impact investing. More on that in other blogs.
When I met and discussed both of the business opportunities with the respective founders, I knew both businesses were ones with which I felt a strong connection. That gut feeling and ability to distinguish great ideas and people that also fit your core values is key. However, that’s not enough. A great idea is only as great as the execution of the idea. So, I found myself in the position of conducting extensive due diligence on both of the businesses, the founders and current employees. This was a big chunk of my life savings after all.
I did some research online to better understand the industries (online virtual world kid’s games and edu-tech) that I was looking to get involved with. I met (sometimes in person, sometimes via Skype) and discussed the ideas with several people in the respective industries. I talked with other investors in these companies to understand how their relationship with the founder had been to date and their thoughts on the direction of the company. I talked to people that were currently working for the company and had a big impact on whether it would be a success. I met some amazing, inspiring and highly successful entrepreneurs and business people that I do and will continue to connect with on a regular basis.
Through all of this, I learned a lot and eventually decided to make the investment. In the end, it still came down to my gut, however. I am at the very beginning of this adventure with both companies. I have decided to take the role of CMO with the first and as an advisor for the second. This will allow me to stay close to what’s happening with the start-ups and to have a direct impact on their future. And, yes, because I am an optimistic ENTP, that future spells success no matter what the outcome. So, stay tuned!