Blog: The Would Be Entrepreneur – Part One

By Dick Dadamo

A while ago I got a call from a student that I was working with last year. I was surprised to get the call because in our last meeting the student was unhappy with the conclusion. He had a great idea, but I tried to convince him it was just an opportunity and it didn't have the depth to be able to build a business. At that time, he said okay, I'll go away and think about it. This surprised me because many times when I have met with potential entrepreneurs, I always ask them about their product, is it an opportunity or the base for building a business. If I rejected it being a business potential I would get a response like "okay, I'll go find somebody tell me what I want to hear."

It was kind of interesting to get the call, and I asked him what can I do for you and he gave me a good question. He asked, “What do you look for an entrepreneur?” I told him okay, I'll give you my response from investor viewpoint, and I do not claim to be an expert but I'll be talking from my experience.

We've been over this before but I'll do it again. Before I get interested in investing, I want to make sure that you convince me that there is a real need out there in the market and you have a product or service that can be a solution. I can also tell you that many investors walk away from a meeting with an entrepreneur, if the entrepreneur if they can't identify how they're going to get someone to pay for that product, so it all gets down to convincing me you are there.

There are certain things, let's call them characteristics, that I try to sense from the person wanting to build a startup. These include having the would be entrepreneur be a dreamer, a risk taker, coachable, oblivious to danger, open-minded, sometimes an egomaniac and above all passionate. Now I don't expect you to have all those traits but these are traits that I look for in a person I'm listening to.

Of course I hope that the person has a vision. I call a vision to be, " A vision must be a living thing and you should eat and sleep it. It should also be the inherent basis in making daily decisions in your life. It is the force that drives the company, creates teambuilding and gives all the stakeholders a purpose for the company”.

Even in my first encounter with the would be entrepreneur, I want to make sure they validated their product proposition, and product. Several years ago a gentleman named Steve Blank, wrote a book on validating and the thing I really remember was, "get out of the building and get to interviewing" You start out certainly with the potential customers and gather all the market information what you can. When talking to customers make sure you ask them if they will pay for your solution to their need. Above all listen.

When you came to me, you had a good idea, and has formed, or what defined a company, but I didn’t think you could build a business. To meet my definition of a business is when a company reached a point when everyone involved gets a return on their investment in both cash and time, and that applies to the entrepreneur and team.

I'm really dumping on you so how about if we let you think about what we covered in this call and follow another call to go over more detail about tips, the organization, coaches and mentors and what I call the money slides that will attract investors.