Culture Shift Labs has been working very diligently to make sure there is a common meeting ground for changemakers of color. Recently they held their 8th Annual event in New York City that consisted of a weekend of conversations on technology, innovation, social impact, and most notably venture capital investment.
There was a plethora of power players in the house including Troy Carter, CEO and founder of Atom Factory; Mark Ein, founder of Venturehouse Group; Kwame Anku, founding principal of the Black Angel Tech Fund; and NBA all-star Alonzo Mourning.
Black Enterprise was in attendance and there were five key takeaways that we went away with.
1. Most investors say no. You have to work to get to a yes. Nine times out of 10 an investor is going to turn you down. Make sure that you are persistent in a way that’s progressive. If you are returning to an investor who you’ve already asked for money, make sure there is a measureable improvement or else you are wasting their time.
2. Avoid spending time with people who aren’t giving you money. Look for investors who are in your space and excited about your product. That way they come on as strategic partners and are not just giving you money.
3. The difference between a Studs versus a Duds product/company is leadership, determination, and resilience.
It takes tenacity to become an entrepreneur. A product isn’t birthed overnight. You have to stay focused but, additionally, you need to know when to pivot. Working on something too long that’s not working in the market, even if determined, is a waste of your time.
4. You learn when things aren’t going well. So, don’t stop. Fail and fail fast. It’s not a loss. It’s a learning process.
5. When speaking to investors ask, “What’s your timeline?” You need this information to manage your expectations. This way, you don’t become the person with the interesting product, to the person who’s now bothering them. Remember, you aren’t the only one looking for investment.