5 key learnings from the First Believers program

July 7, 2023
First Believers - Key Learnings

The Startmate First Believers program is more than just a learning experience; it's a journey through the world of startups and venture capital that fundamentally shapes your business mindset. It's an opportunity to immerse yourself in a dynamic community and gain insights from successful entrepreneurs, seasoned investors, and ambitious founders. This exposure to the exciting and sometimes less glamorous world of startups expands your horizons and equips you with the skills, mindset, and network to make your mark in the startup ecosystem.

Here are my 5 key learnings from the First Believers program:

1. Invest in people

The program helped me see that the driving force behind successful companies is the team, not just the idea. VCs should consider themselves portfolios of people rather than companies. It’s the people behind the ideas that navigate the pivots and market storms. It's not about the immediate win, but the long-term evolution of driven, visionary founders.

2. Always put the customer first

The program promotes a better understanding of customer needs, encouraging founders to connect with potential customers and deeply understand their problems before offering a solution. It’s important as investors and founders to always keep this front of mind to evaluate ideas and build products that genuinely add value to the end-user. 

3. Pitch deck evaluation

When sizing up a pitch deck, Christie Jenkins and many other investors look for the 'spikiness’- one or two standout aspects of the company that make it special. A super-talented team, substantial traction, a unique vision, or a revolutionary invention could be the game-changer.

4. Mastering cash flow

Understanding the importance of maintaining continuous cash flow, both from the investor and founder perspectives, was a key learning from a session with Rayn Ong. Even the most promising ideas can fall flat if they're not backed by sound financial management. Rayn stressed the importance of always having enough funds to keep the business running and continually investing in promising deals. Smart investment strategies like selling off a small part of high-performing shares can ensure a steady cash flow.

5. Diversify deal flow

The program offered unique strategies for sourcing deal flow. Rayn Ong's tactic of using LinkedIn recommendations from founders he has invested in has become a strong signal for his portfolio as they gain fame. This strategy serves as social proof and encourages others to approach him for potential investments.

Applications for Cohort 6 of First Believers are now open.

Apply here.

The information provided in this article is of a general nature and for information purposes only and should not be relied upon.  It does not constitute financial product advice, investment advice, accounting advice, legal advice, tax advice or any recommendation, solicitation, offer or invitation to acquire or dispose of any financial product, including to retail clients.  This article expresses the personal views of the listed author(s) only, and not Startmate or any of its related bodies.  Startmate makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information in this article.

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Will MulhollandWill Mulholland

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