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Deborah MacArthur

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Deborah is an investor who likes to “find and fill the gaps.” She is based in Africa and divides her time between philanthropy and angel investing.

What’s your story?
As an American, I started my first business when I was 18 years old in Oklahoma and my fifth business when I was 50 in Morocco, North Africa. I have had two successful exits (one private sale and one IPO), one failure and I still operate two businesses in Africa, where I live full-time: The MacArthur Company and Global-Lights, the Lighthouse for Moroccan Leaders.

I also lead the AEAngels in Africa. It is a small (less than 100) set of very private and committed investors who work alongside the $1Million African Entrepreneurship Award effort and is the most reliable bunch of people for qualified deals in Africa.

My mission in life is to “Give it all away. Again.” So, we divide up our time, talent and assets into philanthropy and angel investing across the African continent, with a home base in Morocco.

What is your involvement with Investment?
First, I am an angel investor in Africa, tickets of $10K USD – $50K USD. And I co-launched AEAngels with BMCE Bank of Africa.
Second, I lead the annual $1M African Entrepreneurship Award, powered by BMCE Bank of Africa, which invests $1M USD/year in African businesses.
Third, I invest in education projects with no expected ROI, except an educated workforce. Tickets $2M.

How did that come about?
I firmly believe there are two silver bullets to developing countries becoming developed:
#1 – education; #2 – creating businesses that create jobs. These beliefs are based on my American roots and family heritage, and lots of research!
But there is an “access to capital” gap across Africa which angels can fill. I like to find and fill gaps.

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
Go where your money is. Passive, long-distance investment rarely provides the expected results.

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
Betting on the “what” instead of the “who.”
Letting your emotions and somebody’s slick pitch override your common wisdom.

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Reading too many inspirational PR clips and believing in “overnight success.” Nothing is overnight except heart-ache.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
Put yourself in the investor’s’ shoes. What do THEY care about? Answer: making money. So, definitely know the economic cost per unit of whatever you are producing – because they WILL ask!

Who inspires you?
Those who have a little and turn it into a lot.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
People in Goma, DR Congo, live under an active volcano and the beautiful Lake Kivu. It wiped out their town in the 1900’s. What did they do? They used the lava rock to rebuild beautiful streets and fences! I believe, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” But it blew me away to see a whole city whereby, life gave them lava and they made lava lamps!

What business book do you recommend the most?
Two: The Articulate Executive and Crucial Conversations.

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
If you struggle with getting your executive and middle-management to change, call me.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

This article is part of the World Business Angel Forum media partnership with AsianEntrepreneur.org

If you would like more information about WBAF, please contact Callum Laing WBAF High Commissioner for Singapore. [email protected]

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Renata Brkić

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Renata Brkić only invests in businesses which are changing the world for the better and pushing the human race forward.

What’s your story?
I am a serial entrepreneur and investor. I am CEO and owner of a company active in licensing, consulting and the organization of worldwide supply chain operations for licensed products. Furthermore, I am strongly devoted to fostering social impact orientation in businesses with the following key words: science, women, education and children. Therefore in my capacities as President at the General Assembly at ZEZ centre and Head of the Social Impact Investment Hub Professor Balthazar, I am responsible for the revival of the Professor Balthazar character as a unique, artistic, socially responsible brand. For this specific investment, I am also the TBAA reward- holder for the best social impact investment in South East Europe. I am a mother of three and I live with my family in Zagreb, Croatia (EU).

What is your involvement with Investment?
Throughout my entire career I have passed all the necessary steps from corporate manager, serial entrepreneur, followed by the running of a science communication start-up incubator and now investor. This step by step build up led me to my present position as founding partner and starting my own investment fund with inspiring partners – theFeelsgood Social Impact Venture Fund. I invest in wonderful ideas that do not necessarily have fast payback, but that can change the world for the better and push the human race forward.

I also serve as High Commissioner to Croatia in the World Business Angels Forum – an international organization that aims to convert the world economy into a smart economy.

How did that come about?
It was from the experience of raising funds for my entrepreneurial project Professor Balthazar, that I realized I could also help many young inventors and entrepreneurs active in developing impressive spin off endeavours around it.

I have therefore established the Social Impact Investment Hub for start-ups and scale-ups and I am involved in their incubation.

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
Investing is an action-reaction iterative process between the investor and investee. For me, it is of utmost importance that we share common values. I’m an impact investor, apart from profit making it is important to me that the project matters in terms of making the world a better place. I therefore prefer a more hands on approach. And when it comes to the exit, it’s not only exit, it’s all about good feelings, before a good exit.

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
Big expectations of fast paybacks. I have regretfully witnessed recently, the stories of unicorns. Sometimes it seems that even experienced investors can’t resist them. We will see what happens at the end of their life cycles. What I see now is that they are just swallowing more and more, let’s see how bright will be the light at the end of that tunnel?

At the same time, there are many great, realistic opportunities in the market achieving the triple bottom line; people, planet and profit – and ensuring safe exits. They are the ones I would always recommend considering.

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Accepting bad money when desperate. Patience is the key to success. Hold on for a while until all your ducks are in a row. The right investor should offer much more than money; values, experience, expertise and a rolodex of distribution channels.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Persistence, endurance, resilience, patience and respect time as a safe road to clean success.

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
Use the thorough approach. Work on your professional presentation and pitch. Invest in attending industry conferences and start-up competitions. Have a record of first sales, at least pilot ones. Adjust the model to the development level and nature of the project and know who is the best match for you – business angel, crowdfunding campaign or venture fund.

Who inspires you?
Inspired people who create a symbiosis of science and business in the effort to come up with solutions for making the world a better place on a global scale.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Honestly, it’s a discovery of the wonders of the astrophysics that blew me away only now that I’m reaching my middle age crisis!

What business book do you recommend the most?
Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
http://professor-balthazar.weebly.com/

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Social Media profiles?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/renata.brkic.37
Twitter: @renata.brkic
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/renata-brkic-7b47822/

This article is part of the World Business Angel Forum media partnership with AsianEntrepreneur.org

If you would like more information about WBAF, please contact Callum Laing WBAF High Commissioner for Singapore. [email protected]

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Norris Krueger

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Dr. Norris Krueger talks to everyone, especially people on the “elevator.” He believes networking is key when growing a business.

What’s your story?
I’m a recovering Caltech physics major and tech entrepreneur, who turned into a leading entrepreneurship academic. I’m now an ecosystem builder and experiential educator. I spent the last 15 years in glorious Boise, Idaho while getting to travel and speak at various events across Idaho. I’m a senior subject matter expert for OECD and EU on entrepreneurial learning and on entrepreneurial ecosystems.

What is your involvement with Investment?
Today, I’m primarily coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs but I started out with an investment banker focus on portfolio strategy and forecasting.

How did that come about?
I went to grad school to study forecasting and got recruited by Ohio State’s chair in entrepreneurship, the legendary Al Shapero. I interned with a local VC firm. Soon I was immersed in a semiconductor production equipment startup, helping my technical cofounder by revising his 200 page business plan [back when business plans were a thing] to something readable. That landed a key angel investor. I kept critiquing business plans with a certain knack of finding the fatal flaw. I returned to academe, building an entrepreneurship program that won 6 national and 2 global best practice awards. Now I help entrepreneurs to grow.

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
The need to educate both sides. I am not terribly amazed when entrepreneurs simply do not understand how to purse money (and when) but I am often amazed by veteran investors who also do not understand the process as well as they should. Moreover, many other key players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem are also under- and ill-informed. Simply educating everyone on what makes entrepreneurial investment work for all concerned, is something that we all need to do more of.

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
“Never confuse brains with a bull market.” Something I learned in equity markets applies equally here. A successful investment need not mean I’m terribly smart. I see veteran investors always rethinking their methods. In short, we don’t learn from our mistakes and we don’t learn from our successes – unless we work at it!

Similarly, the data on angels in North America suggests that it is all too easy to get hung up on trying for that 10X hit. Pushing entrepreneurs too hard is counterproductive. On the other hand, there is no shortage of US angels who seem to be playing at angel investment. There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of fun but you owe it to your investees to be serious.

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Biggest mistake, not bootstrapping. Getting outside equity may be sexy and growth accelerating but was it worth giving up equity early? (Inc. magazine’s annual list of the 500 fastest growing firms always shows that almost all of them are bootstrapped.) Number two, not understanding that once you take someone else’s money, it’s not really your company any more. A close number three, why don’t entrepreneurs do their homework on the people helping them, whether mentors or investors?

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Never settle for just one piece of advice? If I did pick one: “Always talk to people on elevators.” It’s not a cliche, you really can learn from everyone and you never know who they know. It’s no longer “6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon”, it’s more like 3.

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
DO YOUR HOMEWORK! On your customers. On your industry. On your mentors. On your investors.

Who inspires you?
The resilient. I’m persistent but am I just stubborn? I admire anyone I can learn from… and that’s pretty much everyone.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Changes daily! I follow many science/tech blogs and something incredible pops up almost daily. I read a great deal of science fiction in my younger days; now I’m living IN those stories. If I had to pick one: LIGO. LIGO is the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory… The people who discovered/proved the existence of gravity waves. This is beyond awesome.

What business book do you recommend the most?
The one I write! Seriously, though, Peter Drucker’s 1993 Innovation and Entrepreneurship is one I give people. It’s a good place to start. Brad Feld’s 2012 Startup Communities is my other go-to gift book. But I’d also recommend the websites out there that curate the best stuff: the Kauffman Foundation’s entrepreneurship.org, Stanford’s EdCorner (videos galore), Alex Osterwalder’s Strategyzer.com.

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
Nobody knows more about how to grow entrepreneurs, whether it’s by growing the entrepreneurial mindset through deep experiential learning or whether by growing a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem that’s bottom-up and entrepreneur-led. There are plenty of people who know as much, though and, yes, some do know more; but many are my friends and I know almost all of them.. And I keep meeting new ones on the elevator!

P.S. I am also working with the incredible Joe Bonocore (4 Silicon Valley startups, 4 significant exits) and I am learning so much from him. Check him out on LinkedIn!

How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]
Phone/WhatsApp/WeChat: +1 208 440 3747
Skype: norris.krueger
My blog: http://bit.ly/NKblog2a
My presentations: http://bit.ly/NKpres

Social Media profiles?
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/norriskrueger/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/norris.krueger
Twitter: https://twitter.com/entrep_thinking

This article is part of the World Business Angel Forum media partnership with AsianEntrepreneur.org

If you would like more information about WBAF, please contact Callum Laing WBAF High Commissioner for Singapore. [email protected]

Continue Reading

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