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Trevor Folsom Opens Up on His Experiences as a Start-Up and How His Journey Has Taken Him into Becoming an Angel Investor
By Julie Lam
Welcome back to another episode of the “Perfect Pitch Show” where Brandon Burns, Head of Community – Runway Virtual, interviews small business founders / entrepreneurs about the secret sauce to their successful start-up journey.
Today we sit down with a guest who has accrued an extensive and varied career within the industry, Trevor Folsom. Until recently he was the chairman of The Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal. His most recent venture sees him as the co-founder and chairman of Investible.
Investible is an early stage investment group with a founder-focused approach. It supports promising founders with the financial, human, and intellectual capital needed to scale. At the same time, Trevor’s goal is to minimise the risks that their angel investors face by using data driven processes that de-risk early stage investment. Investible’s approach is to source, screen, secure and support potential entrepreneurs in their endeavours.
What Makes A Founder Investible?
Trevor places greater importance on the investability of the Founder as opposed to the business idea. He admits that businesses that have gone to market are generally more attractive investment options, as this establishes whether there is truly a tangible need for the product or service in the market. However, Trevor describes that it ultimately comes down to the Founder. Trevor lists the many personal factors that he considers, this includes how the Founder approached the set-up of their business, the quality of the advisory team, the knowledge and skill of previous investors, the strength of the Founder’s background, their experience, and the personal connection they have to the problem that the product is attempting to solve.
It can be difficult for Founders to qualify for Investible Funding as it is a competitive market. Trevor advises entrepreneurs who are interested to also keep in mind how they reach out to Investible. He describes a case study of a local business that was building a network of babysitters. The startup initially invited him to test out their service. Despite his disinterest, he had a positive experience. Although he rejected their offers multiple times, they were persistent. They fostered a relationship with Trevor and treated him as a ‘future investor’.
Through the regular updates they were providing him, he could see the business’s growth. As a result, they were ultimately able to bring on Trevor as an investor.
If possible, Founders are recommended to set up warm introductions with Investible.
Signs That You’re On The Right Track
The early stage entrepreneur often takes on many roles, including the salesperson. They must learn to sell their product to customers and potential investors. While it may not be comfortable, the Founder must be willing to take on the roles they may not be excited about. Trevor establishes that it is crucial to approach tasks with meaningful effort as it sets a benchmark for future employees. He elaborates that entrepreneurs should be supportive of the team, rather than trying to be ‘the boss’.
The Investible Games
Trevor would like to invite regional founders to participate in The Investable Games. This is an event regularly held in Sydney and presents a great opportunity to meet the investment team and other South East Asian investors and corporates.
Interested startups simply need to undergo a fee-free application process. Although Trevor cannot guarantee that all startups who partake in the program will be able to procure an investment, he has received feedback from previous participants that it is an invaluable experience.
Trevor’s Personal Experience As A Start-up
Trevor has personally undergone the same challenges that business owners and entrepreneurs are faced with when trying to raise capital for their business. Ironically, when he began his own startup, he was not able to secure capital.
When Trevor looks back on his experience, he is now able to pinpoint the mistakes he made in his pitches. To put it simply, he did not understand what investors valued.
Trevor advises startups who are currenting in the stage of raising capital to not be disappointed if they cannot raise capital immediately. This is a normal step in the process. Entrepreneurs should instead try to learn from their experiences and improve their approach with each iteration.
Good business from Good people
The advice that one should surround themselves with good people is commonly understood. Trevor believes this also applies to clients. Specifically, that good clients lead to good business. He recalls the early stages of his business. They had a large client who regularly paid their fees late, continuously tried to drive down prices, and did not value the business’s services or resources. Ultimately, Trevor made the decision to let them go. To this day he feels he made the right decision. He recommends other entrepreneurs to consider carefully who they choose to do business with.
To learn more about Investible and Trevor, check out the following links: