Are you really too early? Or do investors just not like you? Golden Gate Ventures’ Jeffrey Paine gives us the scoop at Echelon Central Asia
“You are too early.”
That’s the favourite phrase of investors especially when they have to reject entrepreneurs’ requests for funding, said Jeffrey Paine, Managing Partner, Golden Gate Ventures.
The entrepreneur and venture capitalist was speaking to attendees of Echelon Central Asia, a two-day event being held in the centre of Almaty, Kazakhstan.
So what does “you’re too early” really mean?
Sometimes, entrepreneurs can actually be too early — meaning that they’re unsure of their own ideas, which remain unproven in the market.
Other times, “you are too early” is a way for investors to excuse themselves from investing without hurting the entrepreneur’s feelings. The real reason is that the investors do not like the entrepreneur, but saying so will only hurt their own reputation in the startup ecosystem.
“They cannot tell you that they don’t like you,” said Paine.
Reasons for not liking the entrepreneur can range from not being able to trust the latter’s ability to execute to not liking them or their personality. Investors, especially ones putting money in the early stages of a company, need to be able to work with the founders.
“They don’t get you, they don’t understand what you do and they don’t like you,” he said. “And that’s okay.”
But for Kazakhstan, a country not exactly known for entrepreneurship and tech companies, not being liked by a potential investor might influence who gets funding and who doesn’t. To solve that, there should be more investors so that each entrepreneur will get a fair chance of snagging some money. “The more investors you have, there is bound to be someone who will like you,” he added.
He also suggested that there need to be more mentors helping Kazakh entrepreneurs. “Meet people who have been there and done that,” he said.
Government support matters
For many of the markets Paine invests in, government support is crucial. Golden Gate Ventures works closely with the Singaporean government to invest in local companies. “Government is very important for any early ecosystem,” he said.
However, governments might not always have the best solutions, even though they might have good intentions. “If the intentions are correct, put up your hands and help them get it right,” he told the audience.
At the end of the session, Paine noted that he’s interested in investing in startups based in Kazakhstan.
Join us before the end of 2015 at Echelon Central Asia! Held on December 2-3, Echelon Central Asia is a two-day conference held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, aimed to create a bridge between Central and Southeast Asia.
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