Did you miss our Ask Me Anything with Bradley Miles? Catch up on his insights and wisdom here and stay tuned for our next Ask Me Anything!
Q) Can you obtain funding if all you have is the idea and a business plan, but no current funding, product or customers?
Tomorrow, I'll have my first official pitch for my product with the local Center for Innovation Technology (CIT) in Virginia. It's for a grant to assist with submitting a proposal for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding through the National Cancer Institute. I have received good feedback on the idea from local cancer center nurse navigators, cancer survivors as well as oncology experts at Northwestern University. Your response will help in fielding the "customer" question during the pitch.
A) Great question. If you're a non-technical founder, the best thing to do is get "letters of intent" (LOIs) from potential customers. If you came to an investor with 100 letters of intent from potential customers, it shows you're willing to work harder than most entrepreneurs starting out and you have some validation on your initial idea.
Q) What are some practical strategies for finding a tech co-founder?
A) Great question! Start with your network. If you have friends who've started companies before, they can be great resources when tapping into technical talent. Make sure you have your pitch down as well. If you don't have any friends, who've started companies, head to meetup.com and start finding events to network. There are also a few platforms that focus on the topic of "founder dating." Don't be afraid to google around or use one of my favorite sites, Quora.com!
Q) Bradley Miles do you have a particular focus on what companies you look for?
A) That depends on what area in which you are you most interested; Slowly navigating towards opportunities in emerging technology like blockchain, drones, and autonomous cars. The reason being that there's no clear operating system like Microsoft, Apple or Google in these markets because they're too small. When you think of the "operating system for autonomous cars" or drones, no company really comes to mind. That's a good thing! If you're interested, check out this report I authored for CoinDesk on blockchain technology: www.coindesk.com/6-top-trends-coindesks-2017-state.../
Q) Right now I am interested in areas involving video because of the recent work I have done in that area. Drones and Autonomous cars are interesting areas because they involve video/images and computer vision. I can see myself getting into those areas if it makes sense. Blockchain technology is interesting as well, but I do not know that much about it. I have heard there other uses besides just trading though.
A) Yeah, at the end of the day I got into blockchain because I ended up writing reports like the above. I'm working on some things that aren't so public right now, but a lot of the opportunity came from publishing research. If you're passionate about video, stick with it, and you'll find some great opportunities
Q) thank you for joining us this evening. What do you look for in a founding team?
A) I look for failure. You can only really define an early stage founders by their failures. Everyone thinks they can make it, but the reality is that only a small amount ever do. If members of the founding team have tried their hardest, failed in the past and want to start another company, then I know what they're like at their lowest point, and I know they can make it through the hard times. No one ever really talks about the hard times, but it's honestly what defines an entrepreneur.
Q) Do you have any suggestions for those who don't have family and friends who can help them out with the financial capital they need to get their start up going?
A) Yes! I'm close with some accelerators in NYC, and I love the model. For all of you based in DC, make sure you talk to Samson Williams at in3dc! https://www.in3dc.com/
When I was writing my first book, I didn't know too many people in venture capital. If you know what you're talking about (market size, product offering, competition, marketing strategy), people are generally nice and willing to help you.
And of course, if you didn't have a chance to read #BreakIntoVC yet, pick it up and let me know your thoughts! amazon.com/dp/B06XWP5N4B/