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Entrepreneurs’ Homework

This article is written by Clinton James, a Contributor Author at Startup Turkey.

Emilian Popa’s experience in the business industry has been of quite some significance as he speaks to the Startup Istanbul congregation. He is an entrepreneur having run numerous companies for the past decade and currently with Digital Growth Africa and has dealt with the big business giants. He moved from just being an entrepreneur to being a CEO of a large company by 2014 which didn’t last long so he went into starting a venture capital fund focused in Africa and now into Middle East as well. They deal with growth-stage funding especially in technology for all countries in the continent.

He shares examples and mistakes that great entrepreneurs face on a normal basis.

Given 30 seconds or minutes, know how to tell your story. While in Cairo for a board meeting and to visit a few companies, the bus was late and their colleague called a help friend contact, owner of Freval Company that innovated a transport business to solve a traffic private problem. While in the bus, the guy tells them his story and before they knew it, $2.5 million was invested in that business the next day.

Do your homework. A lot of market research is required before engaging into anything. Don’t look far ahead. As much as entrepreneurs need to protect themselves in business to the future, the reality is you don’t know what will happen in another 5-10 years.

Have a plan. Investors are keen on what happens now, end year and in two years in terms of projection. Therefore, come up with a well-defined plan. You need to know for yourself how much money are you going to make, your KPIs and what’s happening and inform to whom you pitch.

Build a foundation. Like a house. Without it, it’s a clear recipe for failure. Count everything. Most importantly, count the money! Many companies and entrepreneurs spend too much that doesn’t allow them to save for growth.

Show passion. Popa had invested on an education company in Cape Town where they met in an office with everything, food, enthusiasm etc. they showed quite some passion in all they did and end up selling the Mass Education platform at $103 million to a US company.

Do not hire too fast. While in Cape Town, working for a company, like an Uber for events. They hired 16 before having the platform neither raised subsequent funding which collapsed the company a year later.

Focus! This is not a new thing, yet can be a flagstone. It’s very difficult to do more than one thing at the same time because it is hard to allocate time for many things at once.

Be ready to change and adopt. Rejections and failures happen but learn from them and remember it’s not the end of the world. Many fail, leave and start again.

Never stop learning. Keep studying, reading or listening to books and have mentors for advice. This pays off in how you run business and raise funds.

─ April 25, 2020