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Lessons From EntreFEST: Seeing Through Investor Eyes

This post is the first in a three part series of my own creation, based upon a session with angel investors I attended at EntreFEST 2015 in Iowa City.

The session took place in a medium size room in a public library. The lovely people of EntreFEST had water and snacks for us. I had arrived early and noticed a group of guys huddling in the back of the room; I quickly identified them as the panel members. This made me nervous so I grabbed a water and a snack and did what people do when they’re feeling nervy. I got my phone out.

I browsed the #EntreFEST hashtag on twitter to see what other conference-goers were sharing. I checked my Startup Peoria email. I checked Instagram to make sure the last few photos I posted were portraying the personal brand I want the public to see. You know, Millennial stuff.

Lesson One – Seeing Through Investor Eyes

I was right about the small huddle. After the room filled up, the panelists took their place at the front of the room. The moderator introduced the panel–two entrepreneurs and two angel investors. And so began the hour long crash course (for me, at least) on angel investing in Iowa.

Here are the things that I wanted to share the Greater Peoria startup community:

  1. From the moderator – “It helps to look at your business through the eyes of an investor” – while this may sound obvious, founders often get so deep into the woods that they begin to see only trees. But investors want to know about the forest, so it is good to set periodic times during the business building process to step back and assess the forest, and use this assessment as a compass of sorts.
  2. From an investor – “I’m looking for a puzzle with most of the pieces put together” – angel investors learn from each other [more on that in the next post] and in doing so, they extend their network of business resources, so investors can help founders find some of the missing pieces to each unique puzzle. In fact, they enjoy doing so, as long as the founder demonstrates resourcefulness and responsibility.
  3. From an investor – “When I invest, I invest in both the product and the team, which is sometimes just one person” – we all know that ideas, in and of themselves, are worthless until acted upon. Angel investors want to see founders show their passion and competence, not just a good idea.
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