Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Five More Tips for Starter Uppers

In the first part of our conversation, Vanessa Wilson, who after a long distinguished career as an equity analyst on Wall St, became an angel investor with Golden Seeds and also teaches entrepreneurship for  the Athena Program at Barnard College, outlined some first steps for emerging entrepreneurs to consider as soon as they get started.  In the second part of our conversation, Vanessa warns entrepreneurs about not taking on too much too soon. Below is an edited summary of her advice:
  • Actively seek out customers; don't wait for customers to find you
  • Don't try to scale too big too fast
  • Simplify your product; less can be more
  • Create an Advisory Board to Fill Out Your Team
  • Maintain an up to date shareholder register 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Primer for Starter Uppers

Vanessa Wilson
    Whether you are just starting a new venture or have been working on one  for some time, it’s important to go through some very basic exercises.  Recently, angel investor Vanessa Wilson, who teaches entrepreneurship for the Athena Program at Barnard College, shared some of those first steps, based on her experiences with new entrepreneurs.  Before becoming an  investor, Vanessa had a distinguished  Wall St. career at several blue chip firms; as an equity analyst she participated on teams  which led  15 initial public offerings; she was selected a member of Institution Investor’s All Star Research Team for 10 years. Currently, as an investor, mentor and  teacher, Vanessa observes that  all start ups face one overriding issue: accomplishing a lot with  scarce resources.  Below are her five  recommendations, which emerged from the interview on  how to get started on the right foot.

  • Organize a realistic  Personal Plan before you do a Business Plan.  Many  entrepreneurs start up with  great ideas, tons of enthusiasm,  but also with $50,000 of student loans and no plan for how to pay for food and rent!  Start-ups rarely reach cash flow break-even in the first 2 years --- particularly if they are big ideas which may grow quickly.  For an entrepreneur to make the 110% commitment required to get an idea up and running, they don’t have time to worry about how to pay their rent.  Don’t count on outside funding early on; even seed funds often require proof of concept.