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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]

Investors

Easy to invest. Impossible to exit?

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Investors are living through the most exciting time in 400 years!

Is Entrepreneurship about Invention or Innovation?  If you watch any of the Dragons Den type shows on TV you would be forgiven for thinking that the way to become an entrepreneur is to invent a new product.  Look through history and it is littered with inventions that have changed the world.  As Emerson is reputed to have said ‘Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door’.   Yet not only do we no longer live in the sellers market that Emerson did in the in late nineteenth century, the reality is that just like a ‘better mousetrap’ entrepreneurship is about refining what has gone before to create even more value for others.  Any investor that is waiting for the perfect invention, is in for a long wait.

In February 2018, over a thousand of the top entrepreneurs and investment professionals from around the world are going to be gathering in Istanbul, Turkey for the annual World Business Angel Forum.  This years topic is Innovation.  While innovation is most definitely at the core of entrepreneurship it is an area that has been sadly lacking in finance and investing.

Fortunately that is changing and we are in the middle of probably the most exciting changes in investment and funding since the Dutch East India company decided to sell shares to the public in the 1600’s.  This means that listening to and learning from the best thought leaders in this area from around the world will be critical to seeing where the market is going next.

Innovation typically takes 3 forms.  Incremental, Disruptive and Radical.  As far as investment for startups and early stage companies, the last few years has most definitely touched all three of those areas.  Whether it is crowdfunding, the rise of Angel investing, or the recent flood of money into Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s), the world of early stage investing has changed beyond recognition in the last 10-20 years.

Yet there is also change at the other end of the equation.  No longer are companies in a hurry to go public.  IPO’s are down 50% from 20 years ago meaning it has never been easier to invest in a company, yet conversely it has also never been harder to exit.  Secondary markets and innovations like Agglomeration have popped up to serve both the entrepreneur and the investors who wish to support and profit from them.

Governments, policymakers, and key players of the equity markets will gather for WBAF 2018 and will be focusing on building partnerships, fostering connections, and discussion of democratising access to finance.  Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an Investor it is time to get innovative and get yourself to Istanbul.

Where:  Istanbul, Turkey
When:  18 – 20th February 2018
How:  Tickets at http://wbaf2018.istanbul/

World Business Angel Forum is an official partner of AsianEntrepreneur and supports Entrepreneurs around the world.

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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Are ICO’s the death of Angels?

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Killing Angels. Are Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s) the death of early stage investing?

Imagine a startup that aims to build a decentralised cloud storage network, essentially disrupting platforms such as Dropbox and Box. The startup, not having a working product or any traction yet, decides to raise funding.  It does this very successfully raising $257 million. In the past year, this and stories like it have dominated the funding discussions thanks to Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Yet most traditional Venture Capitalists (VC’s) and Angels missed out on these ‘opportunities’ and have started questioning where their role sits moving forward.

At the annual World Business Angel Forum coming up in February, you can be sure that amongst the normal topics of macro trends, impact investing and philanthropy, that ICO’s are going to be the amongst the hottest conversations both at the conference and in the hallways and bars afterwards.

With ICO’s overtaking early stage Venture Capital it is a topic that everyone is keen to understand

As opposed to equity/debt financing, ICOs are events where a startup raises funding through issuing tokens to the public. These tokens do not represent a stake in the company; rather, it primarily serves either as a securities or utility token. Securities tokens attempt to provide investors with returns for holding them while utility tokens act as “gas” for using the system the startup builds. Either way, investors aim to profit off these tokens on the various crypto exchanges. According to data from ICObench, ICO proceeds increased 141-fold, from $9.7million in Feb 2017 to $1.3billion in Dec 2017.

With more than 180 new ICOs scheduled to launch in 2018  it is easy to see why it is dominating conversations.

Of course, it is not just just early stage investors that are watching this space closely,  governments too are beginning to notice. Late last year, South Korea joined China in banning all forms of ICOs.

But for every South Korea and China, there is Switzerland or Estonia, the former known as Crypto Valley for its political stability and support for ICOs , the latter recently announcing to launch est-coin in its bid to be the global ICO hub.

The question for investors and for governments is whether this is another unsustainable bubble or whether it is some much needed innovation in a sector screaming out to get more funding into the hands of those creating value.  The lack of regulation certainly presents potential investors with another risk factor.

For those looking for a safer way to get involved, one option might be funds such as Polychain Capital and Fenbushi Capital. They specialise in blockchain vertical only portfolios. These funds also do invest in pre-sales, enjoying discounts on token prices and occupying an advisory seat on a startup’s board. This in turn provides the startup with more credibility, boosting demand and eventually prices of the tokens. It doesn’t hurt to diversify into blockchain startups if it falls within an angel’s or a fund’s thesis.

Proper Governance Models; Angels and VCs may look to invest in startups before they raise ICOs once milestones are met or come in at a later stage post-ICO when traction is gained. Alternatively, funds may be locked up in a cold wallet and voted to be released as milestones are reached. This model has not been explored yet but it could offer stability and trust.  However, looking beyond the core business and seeing who is on the Board, or what partnerships are already in place is also very important.

Either way this is a fascinating time to be involved in the scene.  If you want to be involved in the conversation then it is well worth heading to Istanbul to join the World Business Angel Forum 2018

Where:  Istanbul, Turkey
When:  18 – 20th February 2018
How:  Tickets at http://wbaf2018.istanbul/

World Business Angel Forum is an official partner of AsianEntrepreneur and supports Entrepreneurs around the world.

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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