I look for four key areas when investing.
Are you solving a problem that is worth solving; is it big enough; does it match with your skills and passions; or can use technology and design to create scale?
Very few problem statements pass all of the above filters.
Too often, entrepreneurs see a problem and decide that it is worth tackling, even if they don’t have the right foundational skills for it. Or the problem isn’t big enough to scale up a company. Or it uses an approach that is very limited in technology. Or, worst of all, is just not worth a few years of effort, dark moments, and sacrifice to solve.
The attractive propositions for me are those that have all of these solved.
Once they have this, they usually need a bit more of magic to get me excited.
An unfair advantage. A founder with a unique background. A personal experience that makes me identify. Yes.
These are personal to me and do influence my ability to invest. And that’s okay, as it is a personal investment and I don’t manage a fund with external partners.
Domains that have excited me are education, skills placement, renewable energy, legal tech and fintech.
I have done a dozen-odd deals personally. If the amount being raised is too big for me to support, I bring in friends and shepherd the deal to Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs, where I am a venture capitalist.
For the rare times that the deal is even bigger than that, I connect my friends in the VC space as part of the deal construct.
All this to serve the entrepreneur and reduce the time they spend on fund raising.