Startup investing can be rewarding both financially and personally. By investing in a startup you are contributing to job creation and capital formation. The influence of entrepreneurs has shaped the U.S. since before its founding and the contribution with such innovation its absolutely immeasurable.
Even though picking winners is not an easy game, making a home run by investing in startups means that the returns could yield between 5x to 100 times returns on the initial investment. However, it is crucial to conduct the appropriate due diligence on the business, market, competitive landscape and founding members to mitigate against risk.
At the company I co-founded for instance, RockThePost, an investment platform for startups, we help with the due diligence process by only showcasing highly vetted startups. Each entrepreneur and their high level officers have to pass through background checks in order to even be considered, in addition to pitching the business venture to our investment committee, which is comprised of four financial experts, and led by the former Chief Financial Officer of E*Trade Financial, Robert Simmons.
Below are some of the most important tips when considering making an investment in a startup company.
1) Invest in a domain you know. One of the best ways to reduce risk is to understand the market that startup operates in. This will provide you with a better sense when projecting the potential success of the venture. Make sure that the business has a scalable model so that it can grow to a level in which you will be able to get your money back as an investor.
2) Drill into the track record of the founders. The people behind the company are the most critical factor, especially for early stage companies. This is mainly due to the fact that products need to be iterated several times until they are able to find where they fit in the market. Just like Jim Collins’ book “From Good To Great”, it is all about having the right people sitting in the right seat. Eventually they will end up finding the right direction. Here you want to focus on their background story (previous companies, education, etc.) and what type of value they bring to the table.