Entrepreneurs, ideas people, startup types looking for investment – you’d best get to know the person who could be signing your cheque. This is one of them.
Rory Stirling is Partner at BGF Ventures, the largest ever venture capital company dedicated to earlier stage UK technology companies. BGF has up to £200m in its coffers, so Rory is on every UK entrepreneur’s radar.
Rory has been one of the most active venture capital investors in the UK. After six successful years at MMC Ventures, Rory is now investing in Britain’s best entrepreneurial talent through BGF.
We talked about:
• What Rory looks for in investments;
• Good ideas vs. good people;
• The qualities an entrepreneur needs to make it, at home and at work;
• Redefining the term ‘sales’;
• Rory’s advice for entrepreneurs on choosing the right VC;
• Why it’s important to get advice from unsuccessful founders;
• And the importance of the VC/entrepreneur relationship.
*In the podcast, we make a few observations about the market – if they seem a little off, keep in mind we recorded the episode in Autumn 2015.
The traits of a successful entrepreneur:
The first is what I would call grit, or just resilience, and that is because the odds are so stacked against you in building a brand new business. And the other ability I think is … I don’t want to call it sales but it is the ability to bring people on the journey that you are going on. That applies to everyone. It applies to your early employees, it applies to your own family as a founder, your investors, your suppliers, your customers. In building a business you are selling from day one.
Choosing a VC:
We acknowledge that the best entrepreneurs do have a choice… research individuals within the fund and do your diligence on them upfront about which other entrepreneurs they have worked with and, again, because of the online networks we now have access to, you can reach out to and talk to other entrepreneurs that have been backed by those VCs.
The intention of venture capital:
Venture capital exists to scale companies much faster than they would otherwise be able to. (But) that is not the intention or even the right thing for the majority of companies created.
His ideal board:
My favourite board is probably two founders of a company. Myself as the lead investor and probably one other, and that other could be an angel investor who has invested in the company and knows the industry very well and therefore brings sector expertise. That would probably be my dream board.
The importance of speed:
I do think in early stage businesses the ability to make, 90% of the time, the right decision is better than taking much longer and making the right decision 95 or 99% of the time. I think speed is critical.