Perspectivas Globales sat down for a chat with Hemant Taneja, an investor, founder, and author. He believes in mission-driven companies and has a knack for picking out successful startups. He is also the managing director of General Catalyst, a venture-capital firm that focuses on investing in early-stage startups. Read more about him and his work in our Blog Post here.
In our time with him, he shared some very useful insights for people who are starting a business or those who are thinking of starting one. Here are some key takeaways from our conversation with Taneja, including tips on how to answer questions from investors plus some extra insight that is sure to be helpful in your entrepreneurship journey.
1. Find a Reason to Start a Business
One of the most important things stated in our talk was the importance of having a good answer to the question: “Why did you start your business?” Hemant goes on to say how your reason for starting a business should not be because everyone else is starting one. Every entrepreneur has a reason for starting a company or business and those reasons are unique to each person you should have a good answer to this question before presenting it to an investor.
So what is a good answer? According to Hemant, your driving force should be the passion you have for this idea and the core insight behind it. It should be born from passion and you have to be committed to the journey you will undertake. This good sense of purpose will attract and lead you to talented people who will want to work with you on growing and later expanding your business.
2. There is Importance in Learning and Researching
Hemant states that he likes asking about how the founders learn. What he means by this is that the research conducted by founders is a very important part of understanding where the founders got their idea from. The kind of research Hemant is looking for normally includes delving into the history of companies who have succeeded and knowing how the industry they are in works. Other things include policies, regulations, and asking “how can I disrupt this market?”
Your answers and the depth of your knowledge will tell investors such as Hemant all they need to know about how much you have thought of the future of this company if there is a market for it and whether it seems like a worthy investment.
3. Understand Why You Hired The People You Hired
While pretty self-explanatory, it is important to know why you picked your team. In Hemant’s eyes, this means that the team you have must prove that you are resourceful and that you can inspire a group of people to believe in your company as much as you do. Every company needs a good starting foundation. Therefore, you need to attract great people to work for you from the get-go to help you succeed as an entrepreneur.
4. Even With Great Timing and a Great Team, It’s Not Always a Guaranteed Success
There are many ingredients when it comes to a successful business. It is mentally taxing to think about all these ingredients at once. So what does Hemant suggest? He recommends that you have patience, perseverance, and above all, consistency because of the passion you have for what you’re building. This means you could fail at first but you should never quit trying.
5. Great Companies Can Come Out of Anywhere
The pandemic has been a hot spot for innovation and globalization. The pandemic brought a surge of online companies and created a higher need for online meetings. This in turn heightened globalization to the point where it does not matter where you come from, you can build a company from anywhere and employ people from all around the world.
Hemant believes that this rise in globalization will make it hard to predict the next big companies. It is no longer a matter of simply investing in Silicon Valley or in companies that started in big cities like Boston or New York. Rather, the next big companies will come from all around the world.
6. If You Are Starting a Company in Tech, Find Partners
Hemant suggests that in the particular case that you do not have a technology-based background and you want to start a business in the industry, having a co-founder would be a good idea. This person should compliment you so you have people at the core of the operation that understands the idea and the market and has the ability to execute that idea. Without someone tech-savvy at the helm, it starts you off with a disadvantage against other tech companies.
So, What Have We Learned?
Entrepreneurship can be a struggle, but you are not alone. Remember: do not fear failure, do plenty of research, wrangle yourself a good team and always remember why you started in the first place.
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