Many startups would benefit from broader support in early stages of development. They are, by definition, light on resources. The COVID-19 pandemic presents extra challenges. The key to ensuring later success is getting training to grow in a sustainable way.
Salvatore Minetti, founder and CEO of Fountech Ventures, a global company, said an early stage startup is not a business.
“It is an experiment in what might be. Founders that recognize this and take steps to better manage known risks….are more likely to survive and thrive,” said Minetti.
Minetti told New York City Wired, Fountech Ventures offers support in a unique way because it acts as an incubator, accelerator, and investor. Fountech specializes in supporting deep tech startups, companies that offer products or services related to substantial advances in science and engineering. Yet founders of all types of startups should consult experienced mentors who can plug founders’ knowledge or skills gaps.
“(This) will ensure the business model, marketing and sales strategies, and price points are all designed to secure market share,” said Minetti.
Minetti further encourages founders to look to mentors for personal well-being. “Although an advisor or mentor is not a therapist, many a founder has benefitted from simply sharing or off-loading. As exciting as being a founder sounds, it can be lonely much of the time,” said Minetti.
Start at the “pre-seed” stage
Fountech Ventures takes an uncommon approach to investment. It gets involved as early as the “pre-seed” or “pre-product” stage. Pre-seeds today are similar to the seed raises of a few years back.
“Based on recent investor outreach we undertook (to interview) 100 or so VCs that promote themselves as early stage investors, we found the vast majority do not invest at the idea stage. That is our sweet spot,” said Minetti.
COVID-19 has increased competition in some fields
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Fountech has seen an increase in the number of entrepreneurs exploring new opportunities in medical, research, and learning spaces. “There has not been a substantive reduction in artificial intelligence startups attempting to launch since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minetti said.
Today’s startup landscape looks very different from that of 2010 to 2015.
“Valuations remain high in Silicon Valley. (They) are now reflective of a more mature and commercially aware marketplace. Alongside this, we are seeing not one, but potentially two or three pre-seed raises before the milestone seed stage,” said Minetti.“(When) we immerse ourselves as long-term corporate co-founders, we are on hand to contribute the technical, commercial, financial and legal expertise that young teams need to grow a successful business. Through this process, we also minimize the risk involved for all stakeholders, us included.”