“If we don’t like you, we won’t invest”

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The personal affinity between a startup and potential investor is one of the key factors influencing the decision to invest or not, according to panelists speaking at the recently concluded AHUB.

Speaking at the second annual AHUB – co-located with the AfricaCom event – the panel of comprising experienced investors revealed the main factors which guide them when making investment decisions. The consensus what that the relationship with the entrepreneur is the crucial element.

“Most of my investments are based on relationships. […] I like them [the entrepreneur], and then at some point I make a leap of faith,” said Eric Osiakwan, managing director of Chanzo Capital.

“You’ve got to back the entrepreneur, and see a culture of hard-work and passion [in them],” said Gil Oved, group chief executive officer (CEO) at The Creative Counsel.

Andrea Bohmert, partner at Knife Capital, also agreed: “If we don’t like you, we won’t invest in it. We’ve said no to amazing businesses because we didn’t have the chemistry [with the entrepreneur].”

The investors also noted there are certain characteristics which an entrepreneur needs to display, in order to gain the investor’s trust and interest.

“They also need an understanding of scale, and an appreciation of bootstrapping,” Oved said, adding that beyond the personal affinity, entrepreneurs also need to show a completely different set of skills – understanding the language and world of investors.

According to Bohmert, if an entrepreneur shows no sector expertise, or if there’s no passion and the entrepreneur seems like they could easily switch to another project, the firm won’t invest. Equally, if the project doesn’t fit the firm’s investment mandate, then it’s not possible to invest, regardless of the quality of the entrepreneur or startup, she said.

Meanwhile, for Andrew Hardie, former investment executive at MMI Holdings, there are so many good ideas and people showing passion, that the decision to invest has to come down to basics: revenue model, and value proposition.

Looking at the entrepreneur, someone who has already tested their concept in the market is more attractive, Hardie said.

“Someone who has already gone to market and has some market learnings, and now needs money, or wants to rejig […] that’s a very exciting time for an investor to come in,” he said.

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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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