The entrepreneurial explosion is here and we’re going to see a lot of investment flowing into startups. The question is: are you really ready? I ask Saba Karim, Head of Techstars Global Accelerator Pipeline, the silly mistakes founders make, and how to get in on the mountains of cash, and investors looking for great companies.
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Saba Karim of Techstars
Prior to Techstars, Saba Karim was on the founding team of Evolve, a dating CRM that was acquired by Hubspot. He also founded Orai – an AI-powered public speaking app (backed by Comcast and Menlo). Karim joined Techstarts to help fellow founders and entrepreneurs and today he sees around 120 pitches per week.
Because a lot of investors want to drop mad cash on startups, I asked Karim how founders can benefit and grab all that cash, and take advantage of the new entrepreneurial explosion on the horizon.
86% of Techstars companies are active or have been acquired.
Big Startup Advice: Storytelling
So many founders are focusing on immediate, but investors are looking for something that is going to be relevant for the next 10 years, and the best way to raise money is to become an expert storyteller. It will take 50 no’s to get 1 yes, but that yes will change everyone’s minds.
Karim explains why storytelling is such a big deal in growing your company, but startup founders also push back on this all the time. Karim says “People are starting with the solution and not the problem.” Startups need to make the customer a hero in the story, instead of “Hey, I built this thing who wants it?”
Big Startup Advice: Know The Investor
Karim cringes when founders make strong bold statements that aren’t backed up, like “education is broken” or “dating apps are broken.” He also warns entrepreneurs about going on too long on their pitch decks or making things too complex. Investing in how to win at corporate storytelling is a big deal. He says it’s wise to keep things simple, and too complex.
Investors and startup advisors are people too. They might not completely understand your pitch or your company, so it’s on you to keep simple and keep it direct. The other thing Karim warns against is using sensationalist terms that have no real meaning like “breakthrough.”
Spend On Marketing and Product Road Map
“You can build the best product in the world, but it’s the best product in the world no one ever sees because you don’t spend on marketing.” Karim says. If there’s one thing I tell my clients all the time, it’s that the best idea never wins, the best communicator does. How to convince your board to spend on PR / Marketing is important to understand.
Karim also says not road-mapping the project, and understanding how you will iterate and move forward is a bad idea. Someone must be constantly evolving and keeping focused on project evolution.
Saba Karim Links
Sign up with code “givefirst” for the Twitter Workshop on Marketing and Branding.
- Check out Saba Karim’s website here.
- Saba Karim is really active on Twitter.
- Follow Saba Karim on Clubhouse