I recently decided that although investing in start-ups and lecturing on “pitching to investors” is really freaking cool – it’s time to jump back into the game. Being an Angel Investor is kinda like being a lifeguard at the pool, you’re always around the pool, but you never really get to jump in and just have fun swimming.
Me and my co-founder, Rick, just launched MissionKonnect.com. We are re-purposing some really robust automated marketing software for non-profits, charities and mission groups. Our relationship management solutions create lasting, powerful relationships with volunteers and donors. Our software delivers insight into prospect and volunteer engagement, automates marketing campaigns and graphically shows the progress of every individual’s and organization’s relationship within the nonprofit organization – it’s pretty much a “marketing as a service” company at the moment, but ultimately we’ll build the company around the technology.
The cool thing is that we are only in our “beta phase” and just started testing our assumptions, and we already have additional clients that want to implement our technology and services right away. I’m sure we’ll gain more knowledge as we move through the process with our beta customer, but it’s nice to know that we’re already building a pipeline of potential clients. I guarantee, we will have several paying customers before we even finish testing our beta (I guess, I had better get that checking account set up). I plan to share my experiences and lessons learned right here on my blog.
Lesson #1 Tell others what your doing -use your personal network:
Words are powerful and change your reality. I’ve known for several months that I wanted to jump back into the start-up scene – I knew the problem that I wanted to solve, the process it would take to get there, but was missing a clear vision for the SOLUTION. So, I made up a list of things that “I knew for sure” about the problem and space we wanted to go after, and without a clear vision, I just started sharing my story with people, and one conversation led to another and one meeting led to another meeting and finally one introduction led to another introduction.
I was amazed at how many people in my network said, “I’m not sure I can help, but you should talk to this person and just gave me an email introduction”. I started taking lots of meetings and gathering all the information I could. Plus, it gave me a chance to keep dialing in my pitch and talking through different possible solutions.
Lesson #2 Find a co-founder with the same level of passion for solving the problem:
I was fortunate that one of those early conversations led to an email introduction that later led to me finding a co-founder that was just as passionate about the problem as I was. I had completed my list, formulated some new ideas and even completed the first version of my Business Model Canvas, when I was introduced to Rick. Rick and I hit it off right away and I knew after the first meeting that I had found my co-founder for this new mission. Being an investor, I know how important the “team” is to the overall success of the company, and I know if the team is passionate about the problem – we’ll eventually discover the right solution.