Top tips on building a successful business from an accomplish tech advisor
Interview with Marc Oiknine – Partner at Alpha Capital Partners
What makes Alpha Capital different?
It is a London-based advisory company, mainly focusing on tech entrepreneurs wanting to raise their serie B or C round and make investments as business angels. We also advise on mergers & acquisitions, particularly for internet and technologies. The other specificity of Alpha Capital is that we’ve also been on the other side of the table, we’ve been venture capital investors in the US and in Europe. I worked for Atlas Venture and 3i where I helped lots of entrepreneurs go international, become pan-european or take on North America.
One thing I would say about fundraising is that timing really is everything. You can have a great company, great team and great product, but if you go to the capital markets too early or too late, you may not meet your objectives.
Have you already needed to use this higher level of trust to achieve your goals and build key relationships?
It goes without saying that a prerequisite to trust is credibility. I’ve been advising technology entrepreneurs for over 17 years and what I keeping seeing is the importance of being able to evangelize. You have to be able convince people that your vision is the right one and that it’s worth paying for. For that to happen, credibility and trust are key.
When you’re a technology entrepreneur, you have to build trust at different levels. At the start, you have to build trust with your co-founders or would-be co-founders, so that they share your vision and are willing to take risks. The second level relates to your customers who you want to buy your products. Here, you need to do A/B testing. Then, when you start hiring, you also need to attract and retain talent.
How do you “screen” trustworthy entrepreneurs?
When it’s the right match, there’s chemistry. You have to ask yourself if you want to work and spend the next 5 years with the person. I’ve met thousands of entrepreneurs – there are very solid, reliable entrepreneurs, but also daydreamers. Part of our business is selecting the people we want to work with.
When do you think it’s valuable to use VV expertise?
My understanding is that VV is a non-tech service for the tech world. Sometimes resources are limited and your service sets out the clear-cut mission that entrepreneurs often lack, in terms of contacts, networks and media.
Do you perceive trust as key in business?
Without trust, there’s no deal.
Do you think VV expertise could add value to a larger market?
Nowadays, big companies are investing in startups to get more exposure in the new digital world. We welcome their investment, but we also encourage them to invest in VCs, to create incubators and start new initiatives in the ecosystem.
What VV brings is unique and very focused, and therefore very valuable for anyone who wants to reach out to a specific crowd.
Lots of entrepreneurs ask, “why do I need those people?” VV brings entrepreneurs from point A to point B to maximise their chances of getting what they want.