In the complex world of venture investing, some advice from someone who knows the game can go a long way. We asked our VC Catalyst alumni for one piece of advice they would give to active investors, or someone who’s starting out and wants to take the next step.
Solai Valliappan, Tech Investor, Actuary, Sydney-based Family Office
For someone starting out, there is a lot of material out there – books, blogs, podcasts, so it has definitely become more accessible to understand the stakeholders involved, what information you should look for and anything specific for particular sectors or industries. What I think is incredibly important when starting out this journey is to understand the entire value chain, because it doesn’t just stop once you send your cheque to the founders. You can read as much theory as you want, but nothing really beats learning from actually doing!
Chris Gray, Director, Agnes
Find an area you are interested in, or a problem you want to see solved. If you align your intellectual, social and financial capital to this area, you will remain curious and engaged, whilst creating economic and personal returns. With this integrated approach, you’ll be rewarded in different areas of your life to get what I like to call blended value.
Srikanth Muthyala, CEO, SHAVIK AI
If you’re just starting out, I highly recommend creating a personal investment thesis to keep you on track with your goals, joining a few syndicates to learn from others, and getting practice screening potential deals that come into the syndicates. You can always learn more working alongside others. If you already have some experience as an investor, keep investing, get a mentor and make sure you’re learning your lessons so that you get better at assessing potential deals.
Elena Kelareva, CEO & Founder of GippsTech
Don’t try to figure it out on your own. Being part of a community of active investors and learning from those who have been doing this for a long time is crucial for refining your own strategy and approach to investing.
Amanda Coombs, Director and Investor
For active investors, remember that it’s a privilege to be invited into a company’s journey – accept calls for help, but don’t hover. It’s also essential to understand the exit. Who’s upstream for this company? Review industry multiples and scorecard metrics of VC partners, and also make use of more than one forum or angel group to seek out diversity of experience and investing styles. And remember, if it ain’t your type of fun and doesn’t feel purposeful to you, don’t do it! If you’re just starting out, you’ve got to understand your investment thesis. Know your objectives, investment size and no go zones, and start small. Good deals can only be done with good people, so if the values and drivers don’t match, walk away.
Pino Demaio, Founder, Local Peoples & Matters Journal
What change do you want to see in the world? I find it helps to think about the impact you want to help support through the companies that you are investing in. Investing is ultimately voting with your dollars. Better than that, you can bring your expertise and network to help support the success of a startup and being part of the journey is really something special. And like all good things, investing in startups requires a little experimenting with what works for you. Many people who get into early stage investing have experience in other areas – so think about how can you bring that knowledge to support the team you are investing in and how can you help make them successful.
Wendy Bonnici, Director, Advisor, and Investor
My advice for active investors is to take the time to gain a macro perspective of the Venture Capital landscape both locally and globally, become part of the ecosystem by way of participating in networks, and iterate on your own investment thesis with this knowledge. The VCC program at Wade Institute provided such rich education of the VC space and enabled wonderful lasting connections and networks. I feel more confident in my investment thesis and am grateful for the learning.
Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship is a leading centre for entrepreneurial education. We deliver programs to accelerate learning, creation and connection.