Welcome to Grit & Growth’s masterclass on communicating with confidence, featuring Matt Abrahams, Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer in strategic communications. Whether pitching to investors, reporting to your board, or motivating employees, Abrahams has tips and tricks for managing anxiety and making an impact with both what you say and how you say it.
Abrahams knows a thing or two about communicating. Whether he’s teaching MBAs at Stanford GSB or hosting his podcast “Think Fast, Talk Smart,” he advises entrepreneurs on the value of “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out” — which is also the title of his best-selling book.
Abrahams believes confidence and mindset can be developed to alleviate anxiety and improve almost any pitch or meeting. He’s also on a personal mission to stop entrepreneurs from beginning their presentations with “Hi, my name is _______, and today we're going to talk about_________.”
“That is boring. It's silly because you're showing a slide that has your name and your topic on it. I like to joke that every good pitch should start like a James Bond movie. No, not with sex and violence, but with action, get people participating and focused … and that's what will help people get interested in what you're saying.”
Top Seven Masterclass TakeawaysSome anxiety is a good thing. It can give you energy and focus. Abrahams suggests using cognitive reframing to use your excitement about your business and vision to manage your fear of pitching.Use nonverbal cues to convey confidence … even if you’re not feeling it. Gesture more slowly, make direct eye contact, take deep breaths to slow your speech rate down. These nonverbal cues will make people think you’re confident, which will actually make you feel more confident.Record yourself and watch it. Rather than judge and evaluate based upon your own internal dialogue, try to see what others will see in the pitch or presentation.Mindfulness can help you manage anxiety. Give yourself permission to be nervous — it’s only human. And forgive yourself if you’re nervous or make a mistake. That’s human, too.Create a compelling hook. Make sure it grabs people’s attention and is relevant. Abrahams explains, “If you do something different, you automatically stand out. You've got my attention just because you did something different.”Learn to tell your story fast and slow. Have a two-minute, 10-minute, and 30-minute version to deliver depending upon the situation.Consider cultural differences and pay attention to social status. Low context and high context cultures require different approaches. And hierarchy and social status should impact how you communicate.
Listen to Abrahams’ insights, advice, and strategies for how entrepreneurs can communicate with greater confidence and learn how you can improve your next pitch, board meeting, or presentation.
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Think Fast Talk Smart podcast
No Freaking Speaking
Meet Martin Stimela, CEO of Botswana-based Brastorne Enterprises, and Matt Abrahams, Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer and communications expert. As Martin prepares to pitch his business expansion plan, hear Matt’s tips on how to grab attention, harness emotions, and create a lasting connection with your audience. Then listen in on Martin’s actual pitch...and Matt’s feedback.
Almost every entrepreneur eventually needs to make a pitch to capture attention...and dollars. Martin Stimela is no exception. As CEO of Brastorne Enterprises, he’s looking to raise capital to scale his growing technology company to 19 more countries, starting with Cameroon, Ethiopia, Guinea, and Mali. His vision: to connect the unconnected by enabling Internet access without the need for expensive data plans or smartphones. Matt Abrahams shares some tips and then listens in on Martin’s pitch.
Matt Abrahams is a Stanford lecturer and host of the podcast "Think Fast, Talk Smart," and he has plenty of strategic communications advice and techniques for both Martin and fellow entrepreneurs. Before you even write the first word of your pitch, Matt suggests you need to think first about who your audience is and what they need from you.
“A fundamental mistake people make is they start by saying, here are the things I want to say. Rather, you need to focus on What do I want them to know? How do I want them to feel? And what do I want them to do?”
Here are a few pitch-worthy pieces of advice:
Create a good hook to capture people’s attention
“You know, 99% of people start with: Hi, my name is_______. Today, I'm going to talk about______. If you do something different, you automatically stand out as different.”
Introduce a character
“Think about leveraging testimonials, examples of how people are benefiting from your particular set of offerings. If we become familiar with a particular person and their situation, it makes it much more real for us than simply talking in generality.”
“Avoid reading word for word from a script or slides. Instead, focus on the structure of your message and the key ideas you want to get across.”
Practice by teaching
Like most things in business and life, practice makes perfect. And Matt encourages practicing by teaching.
“Something that I find very useful for entrepreneurs to do is when they're working on pitches, I invite them to actually think about how would they teach somebody else to pitch their business. So bringing on a co-founder or a colleague, how would you teach them to pitch the business by putting themselves in the role of teacher, it helps them see things that we don't typically see.”
Listen to Matt’s advice and Martin’s pitch to learn new strategies and techniques to improve your own pitch.
Think Fast Talk Smart podcast
No Freaking Speaking
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Welcome to Grit & Growth’s masterclass on crisis management and mindset, featuring Baba Shiv, Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor of Marketing. From mental to physical preparation, Baba provides insights on cultivating an innovative mindset to help you survive and thrive in challenging times.
Professor Shiv is an expert in neuroeconomics and decision making. He works with entrepreneurs—from Silicon Valley to emerging markets—on the practice of innovation and how to build a risk-tolerant mindset. Which he believes is especially important in times of crisis.
Baba explains that there are two types of mindsets. Type one is a fear of failure or risk-averse mindset. Type two is a fear of missing out on opportunities or risk-tolerant mindset. In times of crisis or stress, it’s harder to switch between the two if you haven’t prepared.
“What the rational brain is good at is simply rational...listing what the emotional brain has already decided to do, which means if you're stuck in a risk-averse mindset, the rational brain will come in and say, these are the reasons why you have to be risk-averse. These are the reasons why you should not innovate, etc. Whereas if you're in a type two mindset, the rational brain will come in and say, here are the reasons why you should take some chances.”
And Baba believes that taking chances, especially in times of crisis when your competitors aren’t, is how leaders and companies can succeed. Baba has seen firsthand that entrepreneurs from emerging economies are particularly innovative, “they’re facing constraints all the time and as a result are more resourceful, not in spite of their situations, but because of them.”
Top Six Masterclass Takeaways
1. Sleep. Without it, you’re more likely to wake up feeling risk-averse...the antithesis to innovation.
2. Calm your mind and the rest will follow -- develop a meditation, yoga, or tai chi practice to make your breath and brain more resilient to stress.
3. Pay attention to your heart—actually your heart rate variability—so you know if it’s a good time to make an important decision.
4. Innovation = creativity multiplied by execution divided by constraints. Don’t forget to think about your constraints in the design process.
5. Focus on building your collaborative advantage (not just competitive advantage) by developing meaningful connections with suppliers, customers, partners, even competitors. You’ll make more progress with relationships based on trust than just transactions.
6. Instill an innovative mindset throughout your company — survival is going to come from teamwork.
Listen to Baba’s insights, advice, and strategies for developing an innovative, risk-tolerant mindset and how working together can help leaders and their teams handle and overcome crises.
ResourcesLearn more about Professor Baba ShivThinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel KahnemanStanford Seed
Meet Kwami Williams, co-founder and CEO of MoringaConnect, and Brian Lowery, Stanford Graduate School of Business professor, to learn how one Ghanaian entrepreneur overcame fires, floods, theft, and COVID to build a more resilient and successful company.
Kwami’s path to co-founding a social agriculture venture in Ghana based on the native Moringa tree was anything but straightforward. As a Ghanaian-American MIT graduate in aerospace engineering, his first love was flight. But on a trip back to Ghana, after 10 years in the U.S., he decided to focus his life on improving the lives of the people in his home country and continent.
Five years into running the business, they were helping smallholder farmers plant Moringa trees and then adding value to the raw materials with a flagship consumer brand. Everything started to unravel in 2019, starting with a wildfire that burned over 15,000 trees, then a factory fire, floods, and a robbery. 2020 only added fuel to the fire with COVID.
Kwami knew he needed help to tackle these back-to-back crises, and chose honesty over pride.
“If I could give one piece of advice to an early-stage entrepreneur, I would tell them to build an amazing team of people who they could go to war with because the hard days, the bad days, the battles will come.”
“I just acknowledged the fact that I have no idea how to bounce back from this. So I just committed to vulnerability from the get-go. And I committed to communicating as much as possible from the get-go.”
Brian Lowery agrees that vulnerability is vital to both personal and professional growth. As a Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, he is an expert on the psychology of leadership and training future leaders like Kwami. According to Brian:
“The leader is not the person with the answers. The leader is the person who brings people together to help figure out what the best answers are around a range of issues.”
Kwami and his team found ways to overcome adversity by taking one slow, intentional step at a time and asking themselves:
“Why is this happening? What can we learn from it? Let's also pause and ask ourselves. Okay. What can we start? What can we stop and what should continue? And once those ideas materialize, we just say, what is the smallest version of that we can commit to and be consistent with?”
And, despite facing a 90% reduction in revenue, the team stayed true to their mission of giving back to the community with give-back campaigns supporting COVID health workers and racial justice organizations. Today, the TrueMoringa brand has taken off and is poised to raise its first equity round in the second half of 2021. And most importantly to Kwami, they’ve planted over 2 million trees and are serving over 5,000 women and family farmers across Ghana.
Listen to Kwami’s inspiring story and Brian’s insights to learn how to build resiliency in yourself and your company so you can handle whatever life throws at you.
Resources:Know What You See with Brian Lowery Podcast on Apple PodcastsKnow What You See with Brian Lowery Podcast on SpotifyThe Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
Welcome to Grit & Growth’s masterclass on the ins & outs of mergers & acquisitions in Africa, featuring Victor Basta CEO of DAI Magister. From attracting potential buyers to navigating due diligence, Victor provides practical, tactical advice based on 30 years of experience shepherding M&A deals in Europe, the Middle East and across Africa.
Victor Basta has facilitated deals and strategic exits for founders of fast-growing, tech-enabled companies across Africa. And he truly considers it a privilege to be a part of these life-changing events for entrepreneurs, companies, and the continent as a whole.
“Everything we work on is more than an inflection point, more than a pivot point for a company. It sometimes is make or break whether they survive or not. ”
Investing in frontier markets like Africa has both increased perils and possibilities. Which is all the more reason why Victor advises founders to prepare from day one for that eventual life-changing deal. Because, as Victor says, you don’t really get to choose your moment, know when the exit window might open, or control the events.
So, what does success look like? According to Victor it's having to make only small compromises in the final stages of the deal because you’ve prepared and listened during due diligence to know what’s most important to the buyer. “When you have the least leverage possible, success is that you know it, and you live to fight another day. What I try to do is plan ahead for compromises that seem bigger than they really are.”
Top Seven Masterclass TakeawaysSet your sights on being bought -- not sold.Develop strategic relationships with likely buyers years ahead of when they actually might buy.Get on the radar screen by proactively broadcasting your message and demonstrating your expertise and viability.Support your own team's growth so you can show buyers that you’ve got people who are ready to take the reins.Always behave as if you’re open to discussions with potential buyers, even if you’re not emotionally ready to sell.Before due diligence starts, make sure your entire senior team has rehearsed the message.Prepare to make compromises at the end stages of the deal -- the smaller the better.
Listen to Victor’s insights, advice, and strategies to help prepare for your own successful merger or acquisition.
Meet Caroline Wanjiku, cofounder of Daproim Africa, and Victor Basta, CEO of DAI Magister, and learn how one intrepid Kenyan entrepreneur overcame adversity to transform her bootstrapped social enterprise into a strategic acquisition.
Caroline’s entrepreneurial journey began like most other ambitious founders. She and her business partner (and eventual husband) created Daproim in 2006 with a vision to make Kenya a destination for IT outsourcing. A chance encounter with the Rockefeller Foundation in 2011 led to a grant and a realization that the business they were building was also a social enterprise. Caroline explains:
“We were employing friends, women, mainly people who were from underprivileged backgrounds. So, when we bumped into Rockefeller Foundation they were quick to tell us that what you are doing is actually called social impact. You know, we didn't have a word for it until then.”
A few years and 500 employees later, a tragic turn of events changed everything. On the day she was giving birth to her first child, her husband and co-founder also entered the hospital with a life-threatening disease. Caroline had no choice but to take on the role of CEO.
“My first reaction was like, I can't do this. And one of my mentors came and visited me and told me, "You know what? You need to do it for your child. Find a way to gather yourself, take as much time as you need, but the goal is to make sure that this business continues."
Victor Basta also believes in the power of mentorship, especially in an ecosystem like Africa where “hardly anybody’s done an exit...the playbook hasn’t been written.” Victor helps fast-growing, tech-enabled businesses like Daiprom do everything from raising capital to acquisitions. And when Caroline was approached by StepWise, an American outsourcing company, she sought out mentors again to help her understand the deal on the table and keep her emotions in check.
Victor advises “don't talk to very many people about it because you are going to be in sell mode because of the lack of experience. It would be useful to be able to find somebody in your broader orbit that has actually gone through it. You know, they may help you at least avoid going what I would call guardrail to guardrail with your emotions.”
In February 2020, the day before the lockdown, StepWise acquired Daproim. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing and Caroline admits to mistakes and misunderstandings, namely assuming that she would remain as CEO after the acquisition.
“So in my mind, I thought automatically I'd remain as CEO. So, I didn't have any doubts. I didn't think I needed to bring it up until later. I'd advise anyone to just make sure you talk about everything and not to assume.”
When Caroline eventually decided to move on from Daproim, it was not without the advice of her trusted mentors. Listen to Caroline’s amazing story and Victor’s insights to learn how to prepare for the unexpected and avoid potential pitfalls—before, during and after an acquisition.
Welcome to Grit & Growth’s masterclass on the investment landscape in India, featuring Sandeep Singhal, Managing Director of Nexus Venture Partners. A pioneer of venture capital in India, Sandeep shares practical tips for entrepreneurs seeking early-stage funding.
After working in Silicon Valley and at McKinsey, Sandeep cofounded one of India’s first incubators in the 1990s. Over the last several decades, he has witnessed the tremendous growth of entrepreneurship and investment in India. Today, he works at Nexus Venture Partners, one of the first India-US venture funds that invests in global technology products and technology-led businesses for India.
In this episode, Sandeep explores the evolving market trends in India, and shares how he evaluates investment opportunities. He also discusses the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make during early fundraising stages.
Top Six Takeaways:The Indian market is evolving from a value or discount based market towards one of convenience.Familiarize yourself with the investor ecosystem: identify potential investment partners and their areas of interest in advance.To attract early-stage investors, you need to demonstrate passion and a strong focus on product-market fit with a scalable go-to-market strategy.Don’t go-to-market stating a valuation expectation ― have the market tell you what it thinks is a fair valuation.It’s important to have clarity on the risks your business faces.To attract strong partners, you need to demonstrate real insight into the competitive landscape of their market.
Listen to Sandeep’s advice to help you raise capital and grow your business.
Resources:Nexus Venture Partners: https://nexusvp.com/ Stanford Seed: http://stanfordseed.co/Grit
Meet Aditi Shrivastava, Cofounder and CEO of digital entertainment company Pocket Aces, and learn how the company identified investors to support them on their journey to entertain hundreds of millions of Indians in a rapidly shifting media landscape.
Early on in 2013, Pocket Aces identified a huge gap in the market: content specifically designed for India’s youth, where they wanted to consume it—on a smartphone. Fast forward to 2021, and the company is now one of the country’s largest mobile content producers and distributors, with popular media brands FilterCopy and Dice Media, shows like Operation MBBS, and partnerships with the likes of Netflix and Facebook. How did Aditi and her cofounders build such a successful digital entertainment company, so quickly?
It wasn’t easy—Pocket Aces was raising capital where capital hadn't been raised before, and some investors either didn't understand the opportunity or were not confident that the supporting ecosystem would get there.
In this episode, learn how Aditi and her cofounders found the right partners to grow the company, from their first angel investor to seed, Series A, bridge financing and Series B rounds. You’ll also hear from a few investors about how they assessed this opportunity, including Sandeep Singhal of Nexus Venture Partners, and Pranav Pai of 3one4 Capital.
Pocket Aces: https://pocketaces.in/
Nexus Venture Partners: https://nexusvp.com/
Stanford Seed: seed.stanford.edu
Meet Elo Umeh, Managing Director and CEO of Terragon Group, a Nigerian digital marketing and data insights company, and Andreata Muforo and Ido Sum from TLcom Capital, and learn how to make the most of your fundraising efforts to successfully grow your business in Africa.
Elo never intended to formally raise money—he initially relied on friends and family to launch Terragon. But as the business grew, so did his vision, and he needed to find an investor that understood the enormous opportunity in a rapidly growing sector. Since 2016, he’s led Terragon through two funding rounds: a $5 million series A round and a bridge round of $4 million. Now a leader in Africa’s data and marketing technology space, Terragon is currently raising another $16 million for its Series B.
Elo shares his fundraising journey, explaining that it’s not just about the money, but who provides the capital is also key. He ended up working with Andreata Muforo and Ido Sum from TLcom, a venture capital firm with experience investing in tech-enabled businesses across Sub-Saharan Africa. Their relationship demonstrates how the right investors can help your business grow and actually enhance—not dampen—the quality of your decisions as a CEO.
Andreata and Ido of TLcom also share what they look for in a company and provide tips for how you can approach your next fundraising round.
Listen to Elo’s journey and Andreata and Ido’s insights to learn how to maximize the value of your firm’s next fundraising round.
Terragon Group: https://terragongroup.com/
TLcom Capital: https://tlcomcapital.com/
Stanford Seed: http://stanfordseed.co/Grit
Meet Adam Abate and Tayo Oviosu from Paga, and Victor Basta, CEO of DAI Magister, and hear about the hurdles and high points of an East-meets-West African fintech acquisition.
Adam’s entrepreneurial journey began when he and two fellow Ethiopians started Apposit, a consulting firm building technology that would work in African contexts — low bandwidth, low human capital, and affordable. Turns out that was exactly what Tayo needed to create Paga, now the leading payments platform in Nigeria. What started as a simple consulting agreement turned into a long-term, strategic relationship and ultimately paved the way for Paga’s acquisition of Apposit in 2020.
Victor Basta says while this isn’t the norm for acquisitions, it’s a wise strategy to develop relationships with the people you might acquire or be acquired by. Victor helps fast-growing, tech-enabled businesses like Paga do everything from raising capital to acquisitions. He says one of the keys to getting bought, not sold, is “developing relationships with companies that are likely buyers years ahead of when they actually might buy. You can always go search for companies, but people buy people they know or people they've heard of, and there's a degree of comfort and confidence with that.”
The two entrepreneurs learned a lot in the process about the importance of trust, talent, and having a shared vision that will make both sides of the acquisition feel right about the decision.
According to Adam “A lot of it came down to gut and how you really felt about it inside. Did all the pieces fit together? Did you wake up every day thinking, yes, this is the right decision despite the difficulties in negotiation? Even now, almost two years down the line with all the little problems we faced along the way I often asked myself, "was it the right decision?" and overwhelmingly it comes back to yes because the fundamental principles of why we got into discussion in the first place...are still there. They haven't changed.”
Listen to Adam and Tayo’s story and Victor’s insights to learn how to set your own business up for buying or selling to the right partner.
Welcome to Grit & Growth’s masterclass on the complexities and opportunities of running a family business, featuring Peter Francis, Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer. Peter provides practical strategies, tactics, and firsthand experiences of effective family business management.
Peter Francis’ expertise in family businesses goes far beyond the theoretical — he invests in them, teaches a class on them, and is also the former CEO of a sixth-generation family business. So he understands both the advantages and complexities that come with families working together and transitioning from one generation to the next.
Peter believes, and the statistics confirm, that family businesses have some significant advantages over their public counterparts, namely patient capital, speed of decision making, the ability to pursue unconventional strategies, and pride of ownership. But the complexities of family relationships and emotions can be challenging.
Creating a culture that encompasses both family and business is essential. “ It's not what you say with your mouth, it's what you do with your feet. And so early on family leadership needs to make it crystal clear that that's the way it's going to operate, and then they need to operate that way. And I will tell you, what you do will outweigh what you say.”
Top Six Masterclass TakeawaysMake sure to understand your ownership model, clearly defining who are your active vs. passive owners (you want more of the former.)Education, transparency, and communication are the top three “universal” antidotes for handling many of the issues that show up in family businesses, especially during times of transition.Separating business and family is essential — don’t bring business problems home and try to solve them in the “family room”.Bringing in an outside voice/advisor can be a huge help in matters of transition, especially when things get emotional. Which they almost always do.Getting independent directors is key to growth and success. Actually listening to what they have to say is even more important.Thinking ahead, before you’re actually ready for a transition, will be a big help, especially in the event of an unintended consequence, such as the death of a founder.
Listen to Peter’s insights, advice, and strategies to help manage everything from success to succession in your family-run business.
Meet Naomi Kipkorir and Annette Kimitei, the mother-daughter team leading Senaca East Africa, and Peter Francis, lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and hear about finding success and navigating succession in a family run business.
Family dynamics can be challenging, not to mention, emotional. But when you add in a business, things can get even more complicated. Especially when the entire family is involved. That’s the story behind Senaca EA, a private security company headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. Founded by Naomi’s husband, an ex-policeman, the business started in 2002 as a side hustle and now it’s a full-time, all-in-the-family-of five affair.
After a failed merger with a European company, the family literally came together to pull their company back from the brink. Thinking about family succession came next. And as Annette learned, “succession is not one event, it’s a process.” Formalizing corporate governance is key to that process, which for Senaca begins with introducing advisory board members that have skill sets the business is missing, and eventually independent directors.
Peter Francis fully supports that plan. And he knows from experience; his family run business has been going for six generations. Peter uses that firsthand knowledge to teach a class called The Yin and Yang of Family Business Transition at Stanford. Because issues that arise in a family business can often turn emotional, Peter advises seeking outside expertise, and relying on education, transparency, and communication to handle tough issues.
“If you're having a conversation about the business at home you might say, "you know what, we're home, we should be wearing our family hat, not our business hat". And then communication... I don't mean just communicating, but also learning how to communicate. That is a muscle that we can strengthen in the family.”
Listen to Naomi and Annette’s family story and Peter’s business insights to help think about your own company’s succession and governance plans.
Senaca East Africa: https://senacaworld.com
Annette Kimitei: https://www.linkedin.com/in/annette-kimitei-70594249/?originalSubdomain=ke
Peter Francis: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/faculty/peter-t-francis
Stanford Seed: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/seed
Poza, E. & Daugherty, M. (2014). Family Business, 4th Edition. Mason, OH: South-Western Centage Learning,
Gersick, K., Davis, J., Hampton, M. & Lansberg, I. (1999). Succeeding Generations: Realizing the Dream of Families in Business, Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press
Ward, J. L. (2004), Perpetuating the Family Business: 50 Lessons Learned from Long-Lasting Successful Families in Business, New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan
Montemerlo, D. & Ward, J. (2011). The Family Constitution: Agreements to Secure and Perpetuate Your Family and Your Business. Family Business Leadership Series, No. 20, Marietta, GA: Family Enterprise Publishers
Hear the story of Dr. Shuchin Bajaj, a doctor, and entrepreneur who set out to provide affordable, quality health care in rural India and found himself on the front lines of the pandemic through his network of 15 hospitals. From encountering multiple supply chain disruptions to motivating his team and building a 1,000-bed, no-cost, Covid treatment center in a matter of weeks, Dr. Bajaj has moved mountains to save lives. Leaders across India and in emerging markets globally will find his reflections valuable, both now, and when/if they find themselves at the center of a second or third wave.
Volunteer for Project StepOne: https://projectstepone.org/join-us/
Donate to Project StepOne: https://projectstepone.org/donate/#
Volunteer with Ujala Cygnus Healthcare Services: https://ujalacygnus.com/volunteer/
Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health: https://globalhealth.stanford.edu/covid-19/resources-for-the-covid-19-crisis-in-india.html/
Stanford Seed: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/seed
Welcome to Grit & Growth’s masterclass on raising capital, featuring Zach George, general partner at Launch Africa Ventures and co-founder of Startup Bootcamp Africa. Zach provides honest, practical advice on what founders really need to focus on to attract and secure the right investors.
Zach George has been investing on the African continent for over 10 years, but his advice to entrepreneurs at any stage of the funding journey — from pre-seed to Series C — is universal.
After earning a master's at Stanford University, a short holiday to see the World Cup in 2010 led Zach to make Capetown, South Africa his home. Today, he is a general partner at one of the largest Pan-African specialist seed venture capital funds with $15 million in funding and investments in 50 - 60 of the largest or most prominent tech founders in the continent. So, he understands what investors are looking for and what makes founders stand out from the crowd.
Top Six Masterclass Takeaways
1. Ask for advice early, while you’re building the business. As the old adage goes: if you ask for advice you may get some money; if you ask for money, you may get some advice.
2. Know your market and your competition really, really well.
3. Articulate your value proposition. Before you even think about asking for money.
4. Perform due diligence on potential investors. Know their mandate, strategy, portfolio performance, and how you can add value.
5. Look for investors who add significantly more than just capital, including help with customer acquisition, recruitment, and talent sourcing. “Smart founders have learned to say no to investors that don't add any of that value.”
6. Spend more time on operations than raising funds. Especially in the early rounds.
Listen to Zach’s investor insights, founder advice, and capital-raising strategies to help grow and fund your own company.
Launch Africa Ventures: https://www.launchafrica.vc/
Zach George: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zachariahgeorge/?originalSubdomain=za
Crossing the Chasm (book): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_the_Chasm
Stanford Seed: http://stanfordseed.co/Grit
Meet Likitha Maddukuri, CEO and co-founder of Terra Greens, and Baba Shiv, Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor of Marketing, and hear how unprecedented adversity can create incredible opportunity … when you have the right mindset.
Running an organic produce business in India could be seen by many as challenging enough, but the pandemic of 2020 had other plans. With a national lockdown, supply chain disruptions, and a limited labor force, Likitha had to quickly figure out how to create a culture that would motivate and inspire her employees to not just survive, but to thrive.
Creating a culture of gratitude, constant communication, and showing up for each other were her keys to success. “For the first time I had to sell the business and the vision to my people and make them believe that we will emerge stronger.”
Professor Shiv, an expert in neuroeconomics and decision making, discusses how Likitha’s innovative mindset made all the difference — approaching challenges with a desire for opportunity rather than a fear of failure. Listen to Likitha’s story and Professor Shiv’s guidance and get inspired.
Terra Greens: http://www.terragreensorganic.com
Stanford Seed: http://stanfordseed.co/Grit
Meet Faraz Ramji, founder of Norda Industries and Mindfulness Coach, and Dr. Leah Weiss, Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer, to hear why mindfulness and emotional intelligence should be part of every entrepreneur’s skillset.
In 2017 a factory fire changed everything for Faraz and his team at Norda, a snack food company based in Nairobi, Kenya. Rebuilding the business required more than Faraz ever imagined, most importantly bringing his personal mindfulness practice to work.
“I don't want to make it sound like mindfulness is a panacea for everything. I just think it helped me personally, as a leader to be more grounded, to be more objective, to genuinely acknowledge the emotion which was coming up and not suppress or deny it, but genuinely feel it and then be able to use some of that data to drive my decision-making.”
Dr. Weiss spends a lot of her time thinking about mindfulness as a researcher, lecturer, consultant, entrepreneur, and author. She teaches “Leading with Mindfulness and Compassion” at Stanford Graduate School of Business and is founding faculty at Stanford’s Compassion Institute. But Dr. Weiss advises that mindfulness isn’t’ simply about meditation, it’s about the intentional use of attention which is essential for leaders. Listen to Faraz’s story and Dr. Weiss’s guidance so you can breathe easier.
Faraz Ramji: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faraz-ramji-01700a25
Stanford Seed: http://stanfordseed.co/Grit
Meet Arun Iyer, CEO of Alpha Direct Insurance Company, and Zach George, general partner at Launch Africa Ventures, and learn what it takes to transition your funding from friends and family to angel investors and venture capital.
Like most entrepreneurs, Arun relied on friends and family to get his Botswana-based insurtech company off the ground. But bringing insurance to the masses — both within Botswana and across the region — required more substantial sums. And thinking small was preventing him from making it big.
“I believed that only these three people would finance my business. Today, I'm raising money from funds that are located across the world. You know, part of our pre-series A was a fund from Switzerland, Launch Africa Ventures is in. So, now the whole world has been opened up. And technically you can do that at any stage, there's nothing preventing you. The only thing that was preventing us from doing it was my mindset. And once I removed that self-doubt, now the world became my oyster.”
Arun learned that building relationships based on mutual trust is key to securing capital. And Zach George agrees … along with what he calls the ‘napkin test’. Zach looks for founders who can explain in just a few minutes how they plan to get to $100 million. “The majority of founders can never do that. They fail miserably at it, or they'll say, "hey, can I open up my spreadsheet or I'll talk to my CFO". If you give me the, 'let me talk to my CFO', you've lost me.”
Listen to Arun’s capital raising strategies and Zach’s investor insights to help fund and grow your own company.
AlphaDirect, Botswana: https://www.alphadirect.co.bw/
Stanford Seed: http://stanfordseed.co/Grit
Introducing: Grit & Growth with Stanford Graduate School of Business
In this new podcast from Stanford Graduate School of Business, travel across Africa and South Asia to meet some of the region’s most intrepid and inspiring entrepreneurs as they share stories of trial and triumph.
Host Darius Teter also interviews Stanford University faculty and global business experts who provide insights, guidance, and practical tips to help you succeed on your own entrepreneurial journey.
Learn more at: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/seed