Investors M Fayaz Taher Published 4 months ago on December 20, 2017 By Callum Laing Share Tweet Fayaz Taher believes you should just start something to get the ball rolling, then you can start learning some important lessons as an entrepreneur. What’s your story? I am from Bangladesh and I live and work here. I studied in the US at Babson College and Clark University. I started a few tech startups in the US and after University, I came back to Bangladesh to start a shoe manufacturing plant and retail brand. I started off as a young entrepreneur with a fried chicken restaurant when I was in highschool. What is your involvement with Investment? I have done several angel investments in Bangladesh early on. When the word startup didn’t even exist we took some early risks as a group of angels. Some have been fairly successful and some were not but the lessons we learned, allowed us to understand what works and what doesn’t. Now we are in the process of starting an early stage seed fund. How did that come about? It came about because of my passion for technology and also the problems in the access to capital in our country. Our country is very debt and collateral oriented which means tech ventures and talents virtually have no chance. We wanted to create alternative investment options so that the talents do not leave the country or, waste their talent. What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing? It is about long term and not short term. A minimum of 20 years in a new ecosystem. Investing in people and teams are quite important. Operate in a large market size or create a new market or service that doesn’t exist at all. What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making? Term sheets or operating like a bank or personal side venture. Many investors want quick returns and do not see how important it is for founders to be incentivised long term. What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making? Not hiring the right people on their team and working on their MVP. Too many entrepreneurs assume many things about the customers and do not start testing an early MVP to understand the insights. Also they do not focus on hiring the right team. Sometimes entrepreneurs also think that they cannot start without money and so they seek money first without validating that their concept can actually work in the first place. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? Just start. If you do not initiate something, nothing will move and you cannot learn. The best way to learn is to do it. What advice would you give to those seeking funding? Just start doing it. Test your concept, test your market and talk to your customers to understand the insights. It is about trial and error and navigation. Who inspires you? My father who is a serial entrepreneur and an industrial leader. He has been on the forefront of various industries. What have you just learnt recently that blew you away? You need to dig deep in tough times and without facing the tough times you cannot break through. Every successful entrepreneur has gone to the rock bottom and they had to ask themselves whether to continue or give up. The ones who are successful today we know that they kept trying until they hit it because they believe in themselves and the opportunity. What business book do you recommend the most? Power of Habits, Start with why? Mindset Shameless plug for your business/organisation: Startup Dhaka is a platform that develops the capacity of entrepreneurs through an accelerator program, an online platform and events as well as to connect to investors for fund raising. How can people connect with you? [email protected] Social Media profiles? https://www.linkedin.com/in/fayaztaher/ https://www.facebook.com/fayaztaher84 — 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] Related Topics:asianentrepreneurbusinesscustomersEntrepreneurentrepreneursFocusFoundersfundinginvestinginvestmentinvestorsmistakesonlinerestaurantsingaporestartupstartupsStorytechtechnologytesting Continue Reading You may like Will Financial Liberalisation Trigger a Crisis in China? Georges Tchokoua Women on Top in Tech – Chrissa McFarlane, Founder and CEO of Patientory Why Angel Investors are Shaking Up the Global Startup Scene Emmanuelle Norchet Myths & Facts about Entrepreneurship Investors Georges Tchokoua Published 15 hours ago on April 25, 2018 By Callum Laing Georges Tchokoua is connecting Africa’s fastest-growing entrepreneurs to global investors. What’s your story? My background is in statistical finance. I spent the early years of my career working in banking. After college in Paris, I started as a currency trader in London. After I graduated, I moved on to quantitative equity trading in New York, before going back to work as a financial engineer in London. I then decided to return to Africa to contribute to the economic development of the continent. After years spent in Morocco and in Cameroon, my home country, I realized, the majority of professionals are trained to be good employees, but there are not enough companies and jobs to absorb all these employees. I then went on to discover that, those venturing into entrepreneurship and innovation have limited access to coaching, mentoring, networking and financial resources. Upon relocating to New York, I started Africa Rising Invest. Our mission is to tap into the international marketplace from New York, in order to help unlock the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sub Saharan Africa, and connecting the continent’s fastest-growing entrepreneurs to investors, globally. What is your involvement with Investment? Access to early-stage investment is still mystified in many Sub Saharan African countries. Though widely recognized as the main drivers of economic growth, innovation and job creation, SMEs in many cases still remain helpless when it comes to accessing finance. They are sometimes compelled to borrow short-term (3-5 years) at 15-20% from local banks or 25-30% from microfinance institutions. Many can’t meet the collateral requirements of local financial institutions. Here is my message to SMEs: You have other options. I recently led a kick-off meeting between an SME credit fund and a West African manufacturer of plastic products looking to raise capital to scale up. In the same vein, we have signed MoUs with various institutions interested in investing in African SMEs. Finally, I am also an expert consultant with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) for the capacity building program (including how to raise cheap capital to finance growth and the development of local content in the extractive sector), currently being implemented in five pilot countries. How did that come about? My tenure in Africa was a wake-up call. Over 95% of Africa’s economy is driven by SMEs and entrepreneurs. However, there are only 29 exchanges on the continent, representing 38 (out of 54) nation’s’ capital markets. Access to early-stage investments is nonexistent in most countries. Therefore entrepreneurs face many funding gaps during their journey. With few crowdfunding platforms, nascent incubation and acceleration centers and almost no technoparks, many are left over-relying on government grants. But these grants are limited. The amount of money in world capital markets are virtually unlimited. Thus, my partners and I founded Africa Rising Invest to connect entrepreneurs from Africa to investors from anywhere in the world. We hope to make it easier for young techies in Silicon Mountain (“Africa’s next tech hub”) in Buea and Cameroon for example, to seamlessly tap into resources coming from Boston or Singapore. What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing? Humility is extremely important. Investing in general, and investing in startups in particular, is a continuous learning process. It’s very tempting to overestimate your startup selection skills and think you have a special touch. But remember, technologies evolve much faster than feedback loops in venture capital. Artisanal gold mining – Shire, Northern Ethiopia What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making? Many less experienced investors expect a quick return based on good looking business plans forecasting profitable exits within 3-4 years. But behind every startup failure, there are good looking slides and spreadsheets. The reality is usually different. Angel investment is a long-term commitment. Some less experienced investors invest in early stages with no additional capital for follow-on rounds. As the startup expands, it will require more capital. By participating in the subsequent rounds, it’s an opportunity to set the company valuation. Otherwise, as an early investor you will be diluted and end up in a position too weak to control the terms of the deal. What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making? Most entrepreneurs tend to think VCs invest in technology. Wrong. VCs invest in businesses and people they believe can deliver; they don’t invest in ideas and technologies. Your technology is only one of many critical elements required to build a successful business. They tend to focus on what maximizes their ownership more than the drivers of enterprise value: Valuation, not your percentage of ownership is everything. You will have to be diluted if you want to raise capital. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? Remember the last time you were preparing a presentation to speak before an audience. How long did you devote to polishing your body language and refining your voice as opposed to perfecting the words? Did you know, 55% of the meaning, people take away from any communication is based on body language, 38% on voice and only 7% on the actual words spoken? Mastering your communication skills, especially the three Vs of communication: Visual (what people see), Vocal (how it sounds), and Verbal (the actual words spoken) is key. To echo the President Gerald R. Ford, “If I went back to college again, I’d concentrate on two areas: Learning to write and to speak before an audience. Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively.” What advice would you give to those seeking funding? Fundraising is a complicated process. Have a plan, arm yourself. Be open to listen and adjust. Invest in your financial education. Research and diligence of your target investors, just like they diligently research you. Summarise your info memo or your business plan in: (i) a 10-15 page presentation, (ii) a one pager, and (iii) a 2-3 minute elevator pitch. Investors usually don’t have long attention spans. It takes time and resources to read a 50 page business plan. You may not need it. Who inspires you? Tony Elumelu, a Nigerian economist, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa (UBA), Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to drive Africa’s economic development by enhancing the competitiveness of its private sector. As a premier pan-African-focused not-for-profit institution, the Foundation is dedicated to the promotion and celebration of entrepreneurship and excellence in business leadership across the continent, with initiatives such as The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP). I still vividly remember what he told me during the African Development Forum in Casablanca, Morocco last year: “African private sector has to be the generator of the continent’s economic development.” What have you just learnt recently that blew you away? The concept of agglomeration: This is a unique type of collaboration where a group of SMEs from the same or similar industries can join forces and list publicly on a global exchange. It is a huge opportunity for small businesses to grow faster through using the public markets. As a “co-operative of entrepreneurs,” it is a unique innovation that can be leveraged by African SMEs to leapfrog their development curve. It can be extended to lending, microfinance, nano finance and more. Cooperation and collaboration, not competition is a crucial concept in how we download and redistribute the limited financial resources available in this world. I am eagerly looking to source potential candidates on the African continent. What business book do you recommend the most? “From Business Cards to Business Relationships: Personal Branding and Profitable Networking” by Allison Graham. It is well known that your network is your net worth. Most professionals (including entrepreneurs) are usually not well equipped to take advantage of profitable networking. The whole process of attending events, getting business cards and building successful business relationships is an art, which can be intimidating if not mastered. It is almost never taught in schools. But how do you build that network? This book teaches you the practical way of realising your dreams by effectively connecting with the right people, at the right time. Shameless plug for your business/organisation: We are committed to helping the next generation of African entrepreneurs to access global finance and to scale their business to realise their vision. We structure innovative financial instruments suitable to our global network of investors. Sub-Saharan Africa is our market. The global financial marketplace is our capital reservoir. We are sector agnostic. Examples of startups we assist include the multi-award-winning EduAir (Formerly Kwiizi): An innovative solution designed to offer access to high quality digital education to schools and universities where there is no internet connection. The solution designs portable and open media libraries in the form of Boxes, giving access to a heap of educational content and offering an integrated communication system where learners can make video calls within the local network deployed by the Box. How can people connect with you? Website: www.africarisinginvest.com Email 1: [email protected] Email 2: [email protected] Social Media profiles? LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/georges-tchokoua — 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 Investors Emmanuelle Norchet Published 2 days ago on April 24, 2018 By Callum Laing Emmanuelle Norchet works with Golden Equator Capital. Her focus is on technology investments across the southeast region in the online travel, media and entertainment, digital health and financial tech sectors. What’s your story? I am currently working as an investment professional with Golden Equator Capital, a private equity and venture capital fund manager, with a strong focus on technology, headquartered in Singapore. I joined the firm to look at technology investments across the Southeast Asia region, with a focus and interest for sectors such as online travel, media and entertainment, digital health and financial technology. The firm currently has 11 investments that are active across 2 technology funds. Our portfolio can be found here: https://www.goldenequatorcapital.com/portfolio-2/. Prior to joining Golden Equator Capital, I worked with Nest, an early venture capital firm focusing on B2B technology plays in sectors such as healthcare, financial services, automotive and insurance. In my early days at Nest, I gained operational experience acting as general manager for Investable.vc, a first-to-market equity crowdfunding platform in Hong Kong set up to help early stage companies get access to financing through a community of over 800+ accredited investors and subsidiary of the Nest Group. I started my career working at a Chinese law firm in the field of inbound and outbound direct investments. I hold a Bachelor of Law, a MSc in Finance and I have been admitted to the Bar of Quebec, Canada. What is your involvement with Investment? As part of the investment team, I am involved with sourcing, identifying new investment themes, due diligence on new potential investments, presenting those opportunities to our investment committee, and finally working closely with portfolio companies to help them with their expansion strategy, corporate partnerships, customer acquisition and fundraising post-investment. How did that come about? After working with a startup and an early-stage venture firm, it made sense for me to move to Golden Equator Capital and focus on the technology sector in the Southeast Asian region. It is the right timing to focus on the region as we are starting to see more successful companies raising larger rounds from international players such as KKR, Expedia, JD.com and Alibaba. What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing? There will always be some risks and some hurdles along the road, but ultimately, you have to believe in the team you are investing in and their ability to adapt as they continue to grow the business. As the technology sector is evolving quickly, our founders also need to have the ability and drive to move fast and adapt to the new market needs. A clear vision and good synergy between the founding team is important. What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making? They have usually seen enough companies, founders and business models to be able to see the big picture, trust their instincts and not doubt their decisions. What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making? One of the biggest ones that I’ve observed with early stage companies is for the founding team to focus or spend too much time on fundraising, resulting in less attention and focus on business and product development. The other mistakes would be the lack of focus, inability to delegate and building a clear organisational structure, resulting in the inability to do one thing well and affecting the execution. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? As cliche as it sounds, I would go for, “focus on what you can control.” What advice would you give to those seeking funding? Don’t use buzzwords in your deck or presentations Be clear about the vision and the focus of the company Keep presentations short and to the point, leave most of the time for Q&As Enquire about the fund mandate to ensure alignment (geography, sector, stage) Don’t focus too much on the valuation in the early days Speak to the portfolio companies of your potential investors to better understand their personal experience working with them Who inspires you? Many of the local entrepreneurs that have managed to build amazing companies from scratch. Some examples are: Ching Tse-Tseng, founder and CEO of Vault Dragon Joseph Phua, founder and CEO of M17 Entertainment Lingga Madu, founder and CEO of Sale Stock Ethan Lin, founder and CEO of Klook Rosaline Chow Koo, founder and CEO of CXA What have you just learnt recently that blew you away? All of the challenges that JD.com had in their early days to get their company off the ground. I would recommend the book, “The JD.com Story.’ What business book do you recommend the most? The one I mention above and also, some other interesting reads are: https://www.amazon.com/Hard-Thing-About-Things-Building/dp/0062273205 https://www.principles.com/ https://www.amazon.com/How-Create-Mind-Thought-Revealed/dp/0143124048/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1519272960&sr=1-2&refinements=p_lbr_one_browse-bin%3ARay+Kurzweil Shameless plug for your business/organisation: If your company is looking to join our business club at Spectrum (https://www.spectrum.global/), please contact [email protected]. If you are a startup at the Series A or B stage in the region, please feel free to contact us at [email protected] How can people connect with you? [email protected] or [email protected] Social Media profiles? https://www.linkedin.com/in/emmanuelle-norchet-b2001ba/ — 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 Latest Popular Entrepreneurship15 hours ago Will Financial Liberalisation Trigger a Crisis in China? Investors15 hours ago Georges Tchokoua Entrepreneurship1 day ago Women on Top in Tech – Chrissa McFarlane, Founder and CEO of Patientory Entrepreneurship2 days ago Why Angel Investors are Shaking Up the Global Startup Scene Investors2 days ago Emmanuelle Norchet Entrepreneurship3 weeks ago Women on Top in Tech – Melissa C. 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