“This program has opened up doors of opportunity that we never knew existed or just hadn’t thought to pursue” –Mike Jozwik, Hanging Gardens, LLC
The Scalerator recently wrapped up the second week of class, this time with Babson College faculty member and entrepreneurial finance expert, Les Charm. The focus for session two included the following:
- Understanding the resources you need to acquire to grow your venture
- Developing and practicing the skills needed to get those resources
- Using advisors and building boards of advisors for your venture’s benefit
- Developing the mindset and confidence to implement these practices
On the first day, Les gave no pause before having the businesses jump into presenting their executive summaries i.e. “the pitch” to the rest of the group so they could provide each representative with feedback based on what they didn’t understand and what they thought would have been included in the pitch. Throughout the session, it was stressed that you must capture your listener’s attention in the first thirty seconds in order to successfully engage the potential customer, as well as the importance of identifying what “pain” your product or service could potentially solve for them.
After finishing the executive summary presentations, Les highlighted what he believes to be some of the most important things for any entrepreneur to determine:
- Opportunity: Identify the market, the size of the market and where the competitive advantage is
- Team: After identifying the opportunity, it will take the right team to close the deal; make them fall in love with the company and the product
- Resources: It’s NOT dollars, it’s resources! Entrepreneurs must understand what they need money for, but more importantly what resources do you need to obtain that money.
The group also discussed the reality that financing won’t always be readily available and it will often be necessary for entrepreneurs to “knit together” sources of investment; whether it be customers, angel investors, grants or personal investments. There will rarely be just one source of capital, but if a business can lower the risk a potential customer/investor might find, they can and will be successful in finding the capital.
On the second day of class, Marie Moody, President and Founder of Stella & Chewy’s, was the guest speaker, discussing her the growth of her company and the successes and challenges she experienced while finding investors for her now multi-million dollar pet food company. Moody offered everyone valuable insights,”…surround yourself with the best people for your team; this includes not only your employees, but your attorney, your accountant, your banker. Always be willing to get advice, get help, be willing to recognize what you don’t know and find someone who does know. People can be very generous with their insights and expertise.” Listen to Marie’s message to growing businesses here.
Following this session, Brian Schupper, Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Director of Policy and Scale Up Milwaukee team member, hosted a Google Hangout with two of the Scalerator participants to hear some of their reactions to the program so far and to discuss how they think it will (or already has) impacted the growth of their businesses. Check out the conversation with Michelle D’Attilio of sosh and Todd Richheimer of Visual Impression below!
Stay tuned for more Scalerator updates after Session Three on October 10th and 11th with Vincent Onyemah!