- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 28 June 2012 04:11, Updated 05 July 2012 04:16
How did you get into venture capital?
I ran two companies that were both funded by angel investors. When the second one was acquired and subsequently went public on the Nasdaq, I became an angel investor. Part of my motivation was a desire to give back. My companies’ successes would not have been possible if not for the funding and support of our angel investors. I wanted to play that same role for entrepreneurs. I subsequently joined a US venture capital firm, SeaPoint Ventures.
What was your best investment?
Clarisonic (aka Pacific Bioscience Laboratories). I invested in this company when they were pre-revenue at a $3 million valuation. The company was recently acquired by L’Oréal for $500 million. The company had a savvy entrepreneur who previously successfully sold a company. The product (a face wash brush) is amazing but at the time I made the investment, there was no proof that it would be well received by the market. So, in this case, my decision to invest was 99 per cent about backing a great entrepreneur.
What was your worst investment and what did you learn?
There are quite a few. This is a hits-driven business/hobby and it only takes one winner to make up for lots of losers. The vast majority of angel and venture investments will return zero capital.
What makes a great pitch?
Passion for the product, knowledge of the market and an entrepreneur who is willing to listen and open to suggestions.
What are some common mistakes entrepreneurs make when pitching?
Being too scripted. While an entrepreneur should know her pitch cold, it is much more powerful when the delivery is more like a conversation than a lecture.
What kind of companies or sectors are you keen on right now?
As an angel investor, my portfolio is all over the map. My two most recent investments could not be more dissimilar but they have at least one element in common: a great team that is passionate about the business and clever about how to approach growth. Brasserie Bread is an artisan bread company and One Big Switch is a company that facilitates group buying power for major household expenses.