Agenda: Vitaly Golomb, Igor Shoifot, AVentures
The day began with a meeting with Happy Farm's Board advisor, a serial entrepreneur, designer, startup mentor and co-producer of Startup AddVenture Vitaly Golomb. An overcast Saturday morning in San Francisco was suddenly replaced by a hot summer day, which awaited us in the valley. The office of Vitaly's company, Keen Systems, is located in a pretty office center in San Mateo. Like the nost of residential areas in the valley, the city is surrounded by greenery and flowers and its cleanliness and tidiness are pleasing to the eye. Vitaly Golomb, who was born in Ukraine, moved to the United States with his family at an early age. His current company, Keen Systems, provides cloud-based solutions for the printing industry.
Vitaly did a fascinating presentation of the company, told the story of how it was founded, how the team works, and how new partners and clients are attracted; he shared the specifics of b2b startups, which was especially useful for those of our tour participants, who are also developing products for businesses, rather than the end user. Attracting investments was a separate subject. Vitaly had plenty of expertise to share: in the period from 2008 to 2012, Keen Systems managed to attract angel and seed investments for a total amount of $ 1 million 725 thousand, and most recently - in early 2014 – the A round has raised $ 1, 6 million.
The second block of the meeting with Vitaly Golomb was devoted to presentation skills – how to develop a deck and how to pitch properly. Vitaly can be called a presentation guru without false modesty. Vitaly’s presentations, which he regularly gives at startup conferences around the world and while conducting workshops for startups, are always vivid, with a memorable design and content. In addition, Vitaly is great speaker and it was very useful for our guys were to hear him explain the Do’s and Don’ts related to the preparation of presentations and public speaking.
Inspired by Vitaly, we went back to San Francisco to meet with Happy Farm’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, a serial entrepreneur, who represents venture fund TMT Investments and lecturer at Berkeley University, Igor Shoifot. The meeting with Igor passed seamlessly. He told us about the Valley’s startup ecosystem, the new companies and funds working here. Did you know that the current number of startups in San Francisco and the Valley is about 100,000? Yes, the competition is incredibly high, but Igor is convinced that no other place besides the Valley, could offer such opportunities and potential for startup growth. Igor shared some insights on networking in the Valley, explained how to properly establish business relations, how to write follow-ups after the meetings, how to choose relevant events and to benefit from such visits. Apart from this, we discussed using LinkedIn for business. The main message was: being open and willing to help, making every effort to ensure that all newly acquired connections are converted into mutually beneficial partnerships or business relations.
We also talked about the startup-investor relationship - how to distribute their shares in the company and which reporting has to be provided to the investor, as well as what mistakes to look out for in the process.
Another important message from Igor Shoifot: startups necessarily have to involve a team member from San Francisco or the Valley. This allows for a faster way to achieving success, especially if you have not yet moved your business to the Valley. It is not rare for non-US startups to invite a local CMO, BizDev, sometimes CTO, and much less often - but it is also possible - even a CEO.
At the end of the day we had a meeting with the co-founders and managing partners of a Ukrainian investment fund AVentures Capital – Andrey Kolodyuk and Evgeniy Sysoev. It was a very interesting and useful meeting for our teams, dedicated to the basics of venture business. Andrey and Evgeniy told us about the specifics of different investment stages, shared the statistics of the deals of Ukrainian startups, talked about the principles of co-investment, rules of distribution of shares in a startup, principles of assessment of the company, and many other pressing matters of interest to our young startups. Andrey and Evgeniy have also described what the work process is like at their fund. AVentures Capital is an investment fund with 12 years experience of investing in Ukraine, Russia and the United States. AVentures launched and financed a number of companies, the total revenue of which exceeded $1 billion. The fund invests in companies at the growth stage and the early stage of its development. Our startups have also had a great opportunity to pitch their projects to investors and receive feedback.