Are you extracting the maximum value from your Board? Do you know how to efficiently go-to-market in B2B SaaS? Are you approaching investors in the best possible manner?
In Episode 3.2, Luke Smith pulls back the curtain on early stage venture capital and start-ups.
Luke Smith joined Forward Partners from REV Venture Partners, a corporate VC, where he was responsible for deal origination, investment due diligence and portfolio reporting. He was previously a consultant with the strategy consultancy Oliver Wyman, where he worked across the retail, aviation, healthcare and FMCG sectors. Luke originally planned a career in science and he holds a PhD in biochemistry. His focus at Forward Partners is on sourcing and executing new investments.
Forward Partners is a UK-focused pre-Seed and Seed fund with cheques from £200k up to c. £2m. They focus on Applied AI, e-commerce and marketplaces, with growing interest in Web3. One of their USPs is their "studio" (operational support) team including developers, product, design, growth and PR experts - almost like a non-profit agency that work on the portfolio. They are publicly listed so there's less pressure on exit timelines.
Main topics and learnings:-
1. Getting to market in B2B SaaS:
1.1. Tier 1 customers take all your time and resources. Perhaps focus your efforts on tier 2s.
1.2. When selling to enterprise, understand the stakeholders and what they want. Find the biggest user pain possible because then the internal champion inside the company will move mountains to onboard you.
1.3. Expect to wait 6 months for a signature and a further 3-6 months for your cash.
2. Extracting the most from your Board:
2.1. The Board is there to hold management to account and set the strategic direction. Board meetings are not a reporting session but rather 80% forward looking.
2.2. Boards should be small at 5-7 people. Find sector experts.
2.3. Get your Board pack out a week early and cover off initial questions via email. Use the Chair the liaison between management and the Board to keep things optimised.
2.4. In time, your Seed investors may roll off your Board and cap table. This is normal and healthy.
3. Fundraising 101:
3.1. Have a great deck to start with (VCs are quite lazy!). You can start without a deck but that's risky. Do the work and be targeted. Either do good cold inbounds or look for intros. Avoid automated emails.
3.2. Treat Q&A as an opportunity to build credibility and trust. Make sure you understand who is covering what question.
3.3. Red flags for investors:
3.3.1. Worrying inter-founder dynamics.
3.3.2. Founders with ego or who appear untrustworthy.
3.3.3. Wildly optimistic forecasts.
I certainly learned loads from Luke and hope you did too.
If you'd like to get in touch with Luke, email him on email@example.com or find him on Twitter @LukeSmith402 and Medium with LukeSmith402.
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