Tuba Terekli is an inspiring professional who recently set up an investment crowdfunding platform, Lead Angels. Her broad experience has paved the way for an interesting professional life and her tips and advice on investment are extremely valuable.
What’s your story?
I come from a computer science and system design background and I have worked in many other sectors including, being the first female involved in hospital operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. After 15 years of a successful professional life, I ventured off to find the most successful startups by supporting the establishment of the Saudi Fast Growth 100 list. The aim was to discover the stand-out entrepreneurs who contributed to innovation and the economy. However, after three consecutive years I discovered that no new additions to the list were apparent. So, I dropped everything and founded the first private sector led entrepreneurship foundation, Qotuf. I discovered that, 90% of all initiatives were government led, which is commendable but we, as the private sector have to support entrepreneur efforts as well. With Qotuf, we established the first tech accelerator, the first tech seedfund and partnered with many international organisations, such a GEN, GEW, CBC and others for whom we became the local host.
What is your involvement with Investment?
I began by studying the venture capital ecosystem as we didn’t have any back in 2009 and I discovered it was because, no defined pipeline of well valued startups existed and there were no credible exits so people leaned towards higher investments with lower risk, mainly P.E. firms. As an ecosystem architect, I needed to make sure that there were different levels of funding available, so I began advocating heavily for the creation of seed-grants, angel networks and their training, attracting VC money and building an equity investment crowdfunding platform.
How did that come about?
First, we realised the communication between the entrepreneurs and the individual angels were missing, and thus did a training program for angels. From this, I realised they moved in packs and the real issue is actually raising the Series A and B. Thus with my partners, we founded a unique syndicate investment platform. The tech and the legal took us about 18 months but we’ve finally launched www.leadangels.com.
What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
The dialogue between the investor and the investee is the most important factor, board meetings aren’t enough in my opinion. The investee needs to reach out and seek support on many different levels, so an investor is also a mentor and/or a business lead. Meanwhile, keeping up with Fintech is crucial. Our region is full of opportunities and entrepreneurs need to acquire the necessary bootstrapping skills rather than rush to seek investment at a very early stage. I find that investors, including myself, are easier to convince if a revenue generation model is in effect and the investment cash is purely for growth hacking as the efficacy of the business model is proven.
What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
Coming in too early in the game and expecting a fully structured and properly governed company and not having enough experience in the culture of new age companies is always a common mistake. The second case is taking too big a piece of the pie early on. Investors don’t realise they affect the overall valuation and the morale of the founders and end up being more liable towards operational success than they should.
What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Trying to become millionaires too fast, focusing on the cash stories of others rather than focusing on their own outcomes, customer management and growth with no investment. Investment shouldn’t necessary be at the very beginning unless they need to expand or grow their sales and money is needed to acquire more talent, location and marketing. They should focus on bootstrapping, before they decide to give away a piece of their company to a stranger. You can’t divorce an investor!
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Focus, keep your networking alive, stay close to the futurist trends.
What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
Decide why you need funding, do a very proper ironclad valuation, make a list profiling the investors you are looking for and money shouldn’t be your only aim while looking for one, and of course learn the art of investor management; communication is everything!
Who inspires you?
Sayyida Khadija Bint Khuwailid. She was the strongest and richest tradesperson in all of Arabia at an era when women were deemed unnecessary and girls were killed at birth. Imagine the power she had in trade to maintain such a position in such a discriminatory society. We as women in our field of technology and investments still face too many levels of discrimination and I advocate for change where it’s the quality of work that matters and not gender.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That my youngest daughter is asking me to invest in bitcoin, and I had to explain to her in simple terms about Bitcoin not being Shariah Compliant yet. I learnt that whatever we do the youth are watching us.
What business book do you recommend the most?
The Art of War and Outliers
How can people connect with you?
Through my personal email [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]