President & CEO at Diverso Solutions Inc. & Angel Investor

"When things are going well, it's easy to have passion. But when things are not going well, they must have the perseverance to navigate those difficult times."

- Jennifer Renda

Jennifer outlines what she looks for in a start-up

Talk Takeaways

Jeffrey talks with Jennifer Renda on why she invests, her first investment experience, her favorite part of investing, what she looks for in a company, and her interesting journey into the world of investing.

Jennifer also shares her insights on the importance of the team and leadership in a start-up and why true grit plays a large role in order to be successful.

She has also outlined what investors look for and how start-ups can find and connect to the right investors.

About

Jennifer is a serial entrepreneur with extensive knowledge of the Technology and Consumer Electronics industries, where she has more than 15 years of experience. Following a successful exit, she founded her most recent company, which collaborates with OEMs to execute market emergence, growth and support functions within North America.

Jennifer has grown her investment portfolio to include primarily MedTech and early-stage Life Sciences opportunities, where she aims to maintain an active investor role. She is a member of the York Angel Investors network which provides a supportive linkage between investors and entrepreneurs seeking early- and mid-stage capital and was recognized as Angel of the Year in 2019.

Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Toronto and holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business with a focus on Entrepreneurial Studies, Finance and Strategy.

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Welcome everybody to OPN and today it’s OPN Ask an Angel, our 76th OPN event. Very exciting day today, when we started OPN ask an angel we have been running these every two weeks and including all of our other program so we’re very excited for today. We have a fantastic investor and we’re excited to dive right in so without further ado I would like to introduce Jennifer who’s a serial entrepreneur with an extensive knowledge of technology and consumer electronics industry where she has more than 15 years of experience following a successful exit she founded her most recent company which collaborates with OEMs to execute Market merchants growth and support functions within North America. Jennifer has grown her investment portfolio to include primary MedTech and early stage life science opportunities where she aims to maintain an active investor role she’s a member of the York Angels investor network which provides a supportive linkage between investors and entrepreneurs seeking early and mid-stage capital and she was recognized as angel the Year in 2019 Jennifer’s a graduate of the University of Toronto and holds an MBA from Schulich a business with a focus on entrepreneurial studies and financial strategy.

Jennifer:
Good morning everybody. I’m so glad to be here. Happy Monday

Jeffery:
Welcome.

Jennifer:
Thanks for having me.

Jeffery:
This is fantastic. Sorry I’m juggling 8 million screens here now adjust to doing this all at one time so thank you very much for welcome and thank you very much for taking the time today Jennifer so the first question I want to ask is why do you invest?

Jennifer:
That’s a great question Jeffery and I think understanding, kind of, what goes on behind the scenes is not just a return but there are many other things that happen in the mindset of an angel investor in particular that really guides them to to invest and, at least for me, I grew up in a very entrepreneurial family and an immigrant family as well and as an entrepreneur myself I’ve seen a lot of things that you experience first and the ugly essentially and I feel that the entrepreneurial spirit and energy is really contagious. It’s kind of exhilarating, it’s very thought-provoking.I believe startups and the startup ecosystem is where a lot of innovation happens. Where things are limitless where you get to really push boundaries and think outside the box and you become happily accountable for the good and difficult things that come along with it. So I guess really being part of that energy is really soul satisfying so I think that’s one of the driving factors as to why I invest.

Jeffery:
That’s awesome and it’s it’s a very good position to be in where you’re not just looking at this as a financial piece. You are looking at how is it going to better the economy how’s it going to help other people and take the knowledge that you’ve gained over the years and really help push other people and their business to grow and move forward. Fantastic. How did you get started in investing I guess would be the next follow-up to that.

Jennifer:
Sure, so my current company is focused in the consumer electronics space and as I was looking for ways to grow my business I wanted to really reach out to the health-related technologies and health related equipment and so I stumbled within the medical device space and spent a lot of time looking at opportunities for my company but as well opportunities within the startup ecosystem, from an investment perspective, and that’s how my first investment evolved. And started to look at other medical device companies and then it sort of snowballed so you end up being a part of a lot of Industry related events and need a lot of amazing people and somehow, some way got into some life science opportunities more of the early stage therapeutics in particular and alongside of the amazing resources I met along the way whether they be individual scientists doctors and other groups that focus in these areas they’ve allowed me to make some pretty interesting business decisions so it wasn’t a really common path, I’d say, but an interesting path nonetheless

Jeffery:
Know, I like that and you know sometimes we fall into things that we fall in love with and enjoy that we’ve got to keep doing them because they helped you and everything else around you. So what is your favorite part of investing what do you really enjoy the most when you’re working with companies and founders?

Jeniffer:
Sure. This is really interesting so I would consider myself to be a really curious person. I like to learn, I think knowledge is power and, so that being said, being an investor allows you to be part of many journeys that you may not have otherwise been able to be a part of firsthand, let’s say. So simultaneously you really get to engage in different opportunities and experiences you get to learn about emerging technologies about different industries you get to capitalize on your expertise and share that knowledge as well and I think above all, you meet amazing like-minded people along the way and and it sort of just breeds more of that and you kind of refer your reflection of who you surround yourself with so I think it really encourages that learning cycle that continuous learning cycle so I think that’s the most exciting and my favorite part of investing.

Jeffery:
And I have to agree with you on that I also enjoy the learning aspect of working with so many great entrepreneurs so I think that’s a great piece to keep in mind that when you are making these investments that you’re learning at the same time on all parties are so it’s a great synergy to while you’re working together. how many companies do you look at investing at per year do you have a quota that you say you know what I got to do at least five companies a year or you kind of just ad-hoc this as you go what is your metric that you look for when you’re working with companies.

Jennifer:
I think you don’t really want to force, at least in my opinion, force an opportunity to meet sort of a benchmark criteria of what you wanted achieve per year. I would say on average, I engage in about five per year. And that’s kind of in light of the time I spend doing that and running my business as well and also kind of the trajectory of the opportunities that come your way and how engaged you aren’t looking at these opportunities so I guess that’s sort of what’s in line currently with my efforts and energy in the space.

Jeffery:
That’s fantastic and it’s a great number. It’s my favorite number, so I love five, that’s great. You mentioned earlier, in the bio, and of course and all of the talks that we’ve had over the years is that you do have a few verticals that you focus on. Is there a couple that you want to touch base on now to kind of give a better perspective of if I’m trying to reach out to you that I know that if I’m reaching out in these categories that there’s a better chance that you’d pick this up

Jennifer:
Sure. I guess the verticals that are most interest to me are health-related opportunities so the med tech biotech life science more recently like blue biotechnology and how we use aquatic organisms for food etc. That’s really what I find most interesting however that’s not to say that I would dismiss an opportunity in a different vertical. I’ve invested in other verticals and other tech related opportunities, so a great opportunity is a great opportunity. However that being said I would say I’m sort of a generalist but I have an affinity towards health related opportunities.

Jeffery:
Ok, and now the healthcare is kind of taken a bit of a turn, based on the circumstance, it seems to me, that there’ll be a lot more openness I think to solve problems; and open the the doors of the system’s up a little bit more to start to take in some of these startups that are solving major problems that maybe before weren’t as prevalent and easy to access healthcare that I think there’s gonna be a lot of shift in that in the upcoming months for sure.

Jennifer:
Yeah I completely agree and I think also kind of the way things have been shifted in light of what’s happening, overall, is that it’s also validating a lot of the telemedicine and more remote monitoring of things so I think this shift has created a lot of a lot of validity in the space but also opened up many more opportunities as well so I completely agree.

Jeffery:
So in this process now, you’ve been working with different startups. You figuring out which ones that you like with, things you like about them, you’ve got this excitement behind you of why you like investing; is there a certain criteria that you go through, any in your due diligence that you have but you want to make sure that before you make a commitment you have these X criteria met.

Jennifer:
Yeah, so I guess things that I look for before committing, in no particular order so some of the things that I feel are important are traction in the market, and this can mean a few things based on different industries so essentially this could mean that you already have revenues or that you have a clear improvement MVP in the case of life science opportunities and sometimes with medical devices as well we run into different challenges in terms of revenue so having solid scientific data around that having you know animal data in the case of drug discovery for example or solid clinical trial data like all these things are important to demonstrate traction.

Another thing I think that’s really important to think about is scalability of an opportunity. So one of the things that is exciting to me and that gauges that is when you you know you hear a pitch and my mind starts racing so you start to think of additional applications of the technology for example or other markets and to me that’s exciting, so when my mind’s racing and listening to a pitch, I think that’s what really draws me more to the idea. The concept of understanding a competitive landscape, I think you know you can’t dismiss that. You need to recognize that you need to know what you’re up against how you really build a moat around what you’re doing, what you do that’s different. So acknowledging that is really important so taking the time to understand that landscape.

The use of funds I think is is imperative so if you’re going to be raising a certain figure, it’s important that what you’re going to use those funds for is logical. That gives you enough runway for the right purposes etc.
Having some sort of sense of the founders having skin in the game I think is really important. That they’ve gone through sort of the natural cycle with fundraising through family and friends, that they’ve personally given time and financial resources to the business as well, and if they have current investors are readily are already readily available to them for help are they value add investors and sort of how have they built that cap table.

Essentially and I think in terms of you know delivering these messages and being readily available and accessible is important but also having this information really handy so if you have you know pitch decks for different audiences. It makes more sense to do that in life sciences because your audience tend to be different whether you’re at, you know, a scientific conference or pitching at a more tech related conference etc or having a teaser sheet — really know your audience and when you’re delivering these messages and have them readily available to make the process as refined and efficient as possible

Jeffery:
Okay those are some Bibles or some great points and I was writing like crazy to get them all down which I think are very valuable 100%. You mentioned things like scalability, understanding the competitive landscape, how you’re gonna use these funds, skin in the game by going to the extent of doing that first round of funding with friends and families so they really de-risks the business. They think the key to all of this is that how do you de-risk it to make it more palatable for an investor. And then of course mentioning that even going to the extent of how you built your pitch decks to make sure that they’re audience ready. One thing that always becomes an interest is that they’re those are really the material pieces of an investment, are there other key factors that you look outside of these pieces. The team, CEO, like are there other things that you look for in tho people that are surrounding this business.

Jennifer:
Sure and that’s a really great point Jeffery. I think we’ve heard it time and time again so I guess sometimes the message sounds old but I’m gonna repeat it because it really is important. The team and leadership of the start-up is like imperative. So essentially no one I guess the first thing is no one really wants to work with people they don’t enjoy working with and that works both ways whether it be an investor with the startup, to the founder or founders, but also with the investor that you’re going to be working with. So that’s important so that the team has integrity that they have agility they’re able to pivot effectively, that they’re resourceful that they surround themselves with leaders in the industry, that they have a team a solid team around them, I guess if anyone has talked to you before they can hear me preach time and time again about how important my team is and how invaluable it is and it really matters to take the time to build the right energy around you so again I goes to to the team and leadership.

So really that they understand all the stakeholders really around their business and that they have really true grit. So when things are going well it’s easy to have passion but when things are not going that well that they have perseverance to really navigate through those difficult times. Another thing that I think is really important is being really integrated within the ecosystem overall, so the companies that you know we’ve seen pitched before, we’ve seen them pitch before because they’re really active in the in the ecosystem. So whether it be through case competitions with angel groups and collaborative communities that they’re part of incubators or accelerators that they’re at industry related events and I would go so far as to even suggest being at industry events that may not be in your particular vertical but you never really know who you’re gonna meet and what you’re gonna learn and I think the last thing that’s important for me is what other potential investors think and have to say based on their expertise and their due diligence through the process. So the community is tight-knit in that I believe and they’re very collaborative and so I think that’s important to note as well.

Jeffery:
That’s that’s very good insight. I do enjoy the fact that you mentioned that you do have to have that perseverance and team is a big factor to how you run and build your organization. I know from the conversations we’ve had over the long period of time or the years I guess I was always fascinated by the fact of how much you put in value towards your team and I think that that is a huge piece, that sometimes business owners may forget that they do need to lean on a fantastic team and it’s a really valuable asset to have in anything that you do going forward. And you mentioned a few other pieces around different ways to learn from others, and pitch and get in front of different groups as much as possible, when you’re now going into these investments to kind of revert back to the investment side, do you look at leading around or you like to participate in around how do you see yourself in those investments.

Jennifer:
Sure. I guess I’ve done a bit of both. I feel that any instances where I have lead around, it’s more because I know the technology well or have valuable insight to either the path trajectory or the nature of the business. for the most part though, in particular, the later stage or specialized science opportunities, in a particular niche; I let those who are really well versed in that, some of the VCS that also our colleagues in those investments to lead those rounds because they’d be really better suited to do so you kind of need to understand when it’s meaningful, when it’s useful, and what it’s not.

Jeffery:
Okay, so while you’re going through that, do you find that you’ve built your own kind of criteria around the types of vehicles that you like to use for investment? Are you for SAFES? Against SAFES? That kind of thing. What do you feel more comfortable in making your investments through?

Jennifer:
Sure. I guess I’ll start by saying in regards to SAFES I have used SAFES numerous times, and I mean there’s a lot of debate surrounding that but speaking for myself in particular, I’m kind of fine with that. Common shares, convertible debts are also pretty common but I guess, sometimes you need to understand, sort of, the vertical and sometimes the trendiness of a vehicle. But overall, I think it’s case dependent and I’m not partial for any but I think they all applicable in some instance.

Jeffery:
Okay. I think we might we might have to share a little bit more on on that side of things when it comes into those vehicles, but there’s pieces that get layered into the vehicle and one of those usually ends up being a board seat. Is that something that interests you on an investment again?

Jennifer:
Yeah, so I think it’s something important to think about. So having a board as you grow your business is really important and you want to have representatives to exemplify certain groups of stakeholders within the company and and overall, and it’s something that I do for the investments that I’m more actively involved in, and where I can bring great value to the stakeholders that I represent so it’s something that I encourage when I feel that it’s valuable to to the organization

Jeffery:
Okay, perfect. So now that you’ve looked at board seats, you’ve got your investment strategy set up, everything’s kind of moving forward, is there when you look at these startups and you’re providing them with financials or money to help them move forward? Is there anything else, did you look at providing to these startups outside of a monetary value and there’s no right or wrong answer, it can be just a monetary value, but I think you’ve talked a bit about being able to get a little bit more deeper into that company and help them out. Maybe give us one or two things that once you’ve made an investment, what things that you like to do to support your financial investment.

Jennifer:
Sure I think that’s a great question. There’s other ways beyond financial support that you can extend to growing companies to help them with their with their growth and I think one of the things that is important to me and is proven useful is a lot of introductions that we can we can help with. So introductions to industry leaders, to potential clients, to skilled team members, and and some of the human resource elements. Another thing that’s really interesting is sharing our operational advice and procedural advice just like the mechanics of things and how we get things accomplished and completed a sounding board as you grow, as pivot, you know what what’s happening in the in the in the industry overall. What’s happening with the angel investment community you know what are people looking at and being good sounding board for those types of things or anything else in particular. I think sometimes it’s even something simple as just being present. So if founders of a company I’ve invested in our pitching, are at a competition or they’re presenting at a conference, just being there in the audience is super meaningful. And you know after that pitch or that presentation, how awesome is it that they’re able to introduce their investors to people that they’ve met at the conference or who are also in the room there. So sometimes being present is really valuable as well.

Jeffery:
I remember when we did our our pre pre interview discussion, i think one of the things that stood out the most to me in the whole discussion about this, I know we spent many hours deliberating and on the questions and everything else, do you wanted to go through was the fact that you support your startup companies by going to events if they’re going to participate at. And what I really liked about that is that it gives it’s a whole different value add to that startup, it gives them confidence that you’re following them and you are supporting them along their journey. And again regardless if it was financial or I was advising or mentorship or coaching is that you’re actually getting into the thick of things with them. And I think that makes a big difference to a startup to know that this person has gone out of their way to take a few minutes to listen to them or meet them somewhere with in front of a bigger audience. So I think that’s fantastic quality to have as an investor amongst all the other great things you’re doing, but that one really stood out so I just wanted to share that, but that’s that’s pretty amazing.

Jennifer:
Thank you.

Jeffery:
So now you’ve kind of gone through all of these things, you’ve made the investments, you’re supporting your teams, they’re getting a lot of great value out of everything, it’s moving forward nicely — how do you look for your start-ups to communicate back to you. Just we know everybody gets busy. So is there a little regiment that you set them up with right away so that way you’re communicated to in two years from now or sit chasing you know how do you get that ball rolling and getting people comfortable to share and communicate.

Jennifer:
Yeah a great question so having that open dialog and transparency and communication on a scheduled basis is important. So let me focus on the scheduled basis. First, and then the ad-hoc basis. So in a scheduled fashion, like I believe that minimum you’re wanting to have quarterly updates of, you know, what’s happening with a company, what’s going on, and reporting more often than that is totally welcome. I think I want to talk or spend more time talking about the ad hoc reasons why you update. And I think the reason you should keep that dialogue open is because as things happen, as you’re growing whether it be you know difficulties you’re encountering, or an opportunity you’re encountering, I think investors want to help walk through those things, rather than you know having everything kind of fall apart and we’re picking up a million pieces. So if there’s a problem, bring it up – reach out to your investment group to to gain insights, to gain help with getting through some difficulties but also celebrating those wins as well. So being more proactive rather than reactive. So I see that as a double-edged communication route so scheduled and also ad hoc.

Jeffery:
No that’s fantastic. It’s kind of like you just appear out of the blue and you start giving them some great insight and feed them forward and they start to see that value. And I think a lot of times when we get under duress we sometimes don’t realize that we have a great, strong network behind us and those are the people that invest in you but they’re our friends and family as well, and sometimes if you have to reach out and be a little bit vulnerable for them to step in and help but sometimes that you said you can be more scheduled and making sure that you’re still part of that mix even if they’re afraid to share something, you’re still part of it and you can slowly help coach them to open up that information so that’s a great way to keep everybody intact, and learning, and moving forward as you mentioned earlier.

So based on the markets that we’re currently in right now, have you seen yourself or investors around you pull back in any way or just re-evaluating or try to support their current investments? How have you started to look at the landscape over the last couple months?

Jennifer:
Again and we all know that the landscape has changed drastically over the last few months in particular. I guess, overall, it seems from my perspective, that investors are still in a position to invest however they’re looking, I guess treading more carefully. They’re looking at opportunities more cautiously, looking at opportunities that have a lot more traction, that are more comprehensive with their current partners, and their contracts, that they’re a lot leaner, and they have agility to really navigate through what we’re experiencing now. But as other things come up because I think we’re more partial to the idea that you know what about other things, and I think, overall, the mindset is in that sort of headspace so deals need to take longer to close in light of all these things, and maybe there may be more creative ways in which terms are produced and being said to navigate some of the changes we see. Personally, what I mentioned resonates, however I’m still actively looking at deals. I kind of don’t get tired of watching a pitch so the more pitches the better, I guess. Although I feel more inclined within the health space as we discussed earlier, I feel that’s an area where I’m gonna continue spending a lot of my time. I think it’s detrimental but beyond that there are other things that are important as well that could be quite interesting. So you know food technologies, and agriculture, you know education, and socialization related technologies of how we navigate a new normal. Glu Biotech I think is super interesting and FinTech as well but I guess everyone is still active to varying levels but the community is still looking at opportunities and I think that’s a good thing.

Jeffery:
I don’t 100 percent agree . Wholeheartedly I think you’re right. There’s been some reductions and there’s been a little bit slower process but at the end, everybody’s always looking to see how they can help grow in the community and help early-stage companies move forward. And being that you’re an early stage company supporter and an investor, is there anywhere that you feel startups or founders or potential founders should be looking to reach out to to find information on how they should structure their companies. When they should take investment or even just interfacing with an angel investor that can help work them through this . Is there somewhere in there that you feelthat is a good space or at least starting point for startups before they start say knocking on your door to speak to you

Jennifer:
Sure, that’s great. I think being connected to some capacity with the angel community is imperative as you’re building your business for different reasons not just because you’re fundraising. So I think what to keep in mind, which i think is really important, is most angel investors are actually entrepreneurs themselves. So they share similar experiences, similar challenges, similar wins, similar life lessons. And sometimes these things can be stretched across different verticals and across the board so it may not necessarily mean that an angel in your industry is like that’s your goal but it could be others as well. So just keep that in the back of your mind we kind of fought similar battles and and so we don’t just sit and criticize companies. We actually say it from a background of having experienced that but also wanting to help and give back — so don’t be shy to reach out. Look to events that they’re going to be participating in whether they’re on a panel or whether they’re judging a case competition and be present at those events. Reach out to them after. Introduce yourself, look for references from other startups and who they reach out to for help and usually those people, that are already engaging in some capacity as an an angel investor or a mentor for that matter, are people who want to do that and are willing to do that so that’s probably a great start.
Be a guest at an angel community meeting. See what the community’s like, what the makeup of the audience is like. Look to what other companies are doing for their pitches, and understanding sort of what’s expected and remember above all that, we’re paying attention, we want to follow your journey and I think that’s what makes it much easier to engage when you’re ready for investment

Jeffery:
Well, that’s some great advice and 100% we all agree that you need to attend places, meet people shake a hand three or four times, and just keep going back so that person remember who you are. But show that you’re just as heavily invested in getting them to learn more about you as you are about them. And that will work a two-way street when you’re okay out there pitching, and sharing, and doing all the great things that you do as start up. But it’s that hustle that gets everybody interested more into what you’re doing.
So we’re gonna kind of shift a little bit here and we’re gonna look at some questions that have come in through the chat. So we’ve been receiving emails and everything, so some of the questions we’ve already answered, but I do want to ask one question and this was a question that came through from Matthew. Matthew, we’ve known for a few years and a great supporter of everything we do, but at the same time he has a start-up and it happens to be in the healthcare space. So one of his questions was “once we’re out of the weeds with this pandemic do you anticipate that there will be a wave of support to modernize hospitals and other big bureaucratic health institutions?”

Jennifer:
Thanks Matthew for the question. So in light of what we’re experiencing now, I think there’s going to be a real large push towards them, I guess, modernization of some aspects of how hospitals are managed, how we communicate information, how we utilize virtual methods for patient care and patient support. And I think what’s also interesting beyond that, is and as I said earlier, is a lot of validity to some of the things that we’re kind of on the fence and how we navigate health and healthcare overall. But I think what’s going to be really interesting and what I’m hoping to see is more of an international collaboration on how we navigate the health industry and the health space and how we work more together. Managing some of the challenges we see and some of the preventative but also reactive measures we need to take on, more of a global level for navigating the healthcare system and navigating any things that come up along the way. So I think there are gonna be a lot of changes, a lot of positive changes. And I think the pandemic may have been kind of fire under that so a lot of fuel there.

Jeffery:
Okay. This next question is it comes from Judy and her question is, “what would it take for an angel investor to invest in science and technology geared towards the development of hair and beauty products for women of color.

Jennifer:
Thanks and Judy for your question. I think I spoke about some of the things that are important when you’re looking at an opportunity. So we talked about you know scalability, market fit, traction in the market, understanding the competitive landscape. So I guess all of those things would apply to all sort of opportunities across the board and I think if you can demonstrate these things, and there really is something of value there and it may not necessarily be something that someone is well versed in or experienced in investing in or has kind of that track record in a space or a new space all the same improving those things. I think you’re able to still justify that the opportunity is viable and that’s an it’s an investable opportunity. So I wouldn’t really change anything kind of the recipe of getting yourself ready and pitching that opportunity is just the same. And you will find interested investors.

Jeffery:
So it goes back to kind of your point before is that start to go to events. And I guess at this point it might be a little bit harder but still attend events, and find out which investors have an interest in that form. They’ll probably be the first ones that will have more impact for you because they’ve invested in the area or at least in that vertical so which will help you position yourself a little stronger but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to find an investor at any event. People are always interested to I diversify as you mentioned, and I think that you can’t give up and think that nobody wants to invest in you, there’s massive verticals in all areas, especially in the vertical of makeup for women of color. There’s been a lot of fantastic people that I’ve met over the years. And I did meet an individual and she had already built of a base of over a half a million followers in her social feeds. And she was creating makeup for women of color. So I think if there’s a lot of good potential. There’s a lot of great people out there that are doing great things and you need to find them and they’ll help you along your journey.
The next question I have is, “Is it good and valuable from your perspective for startups to look at getting intoaccelerators and incubators? Do these bring a lot of value when you’re making a decision for an investment?”

Jennifer:
And I think that’s an awesome question. I really feel that from my perspective, I’ve actually engaged more with and sought out in a proactive way incubators and accelerators to find deal flow so some of my greatest investments have resulted from kind of making friends with the people at DMZ, for example, and really meeting some some great companies. So I think it’s an invaluable piece to really think about being a part of these communities and incubators and accelerators are great in that they’re allowing you for access to learnings, information, networking, support and they build credibility within the community. So one good example is that if you’re a life science company being out of Jay Labs really brings a lot of credibility around that too. And then you meet like-minded companies as well. And I think I can go on and on, the list is really vast but I am a huge supporter of accelerators and incubators.

Jeffery:
And what it helps, it again de-risk the value to an investor. It helps to really to de-risk as well. What are the key factors that these businesses bring to the startup? Is it help them understand the market segment better? They help them really structure their MVP? Or is it just holding the scales in on process and speed to market? So learning how to work better in smaller teams and how to utilize the resources that you currently have, what are those pieces that you really think are important for a start-up to think about when they’re building their one-man show and they’ve got to go into a second, what does that process look like, and how do they fill it?

Jennifer:
Yeah. I think it goes beyond the having lab space or work space or you know networking with other companies I think it’s it’s beyond that. It’s you know, helping you perfect your pitch. Helping you really gain access to others in the space that could be potential advisers. You look at like creative destruction lab work for example that has different verticals that focus on different pieces and they do grounds of of meetings that kind of guide you with particular milestones that you need to achieve. So I think it’s it’s above and beyond that, if you look at yourself Jeffery with OPN allowing for companies to really be supported in other facets that help them grow and obviously to get them to market as quickly as possible, I think the reality is in the right way with the right resources and the right guidance.

Jeffery:
Perfect. I like that and I do wholeheartedly agree that there’s a lot of value that they bring. One or the other questions and I’m gonna kind of paraphrase a little bit from Tim was in the social impact space or social type of businesses is there a way that investors will choose to want to work and invest in a social property or business especially nowadays as things have been shifting so quickly. What is the way that maybe somebody that is building a company in this space they could get you to be interested in it and is it something that does interest you because sometimes when you’re getting into these businesses they are either non-for-profits or they are obviously out there doing a lot of great things but they’re finding a tough time trying to find investors and we do get this question a lot is how do I get supported and is that only through government is there any other way that I can get investors to also support me?

Jennifer:
Yeah. Thanks Tim for the question. I think that we have to always remember that investors also have the mindset around working alongside or investing in opportunities that have social impact so it’s not always the case that it’s only for the return. So if you think about, at least for myself, some of the things that I’ve partaken in as an investor are because of the huge benefits that would come out of this as the project grows, and as we go to market. So kind of don’t forget that the mindset of your company is being a company of social impact as a goal is also a goal for many people. So I guess, it’s really finding those investors and being connected within that group, really you can leverage investment that way. So it’s not just about the government grants or any other ways of getting other funding but when that does happen I mean bringing those those two together is is essential. But they do exist and you can find those people

Jeffery:
The they certainly do. In that sometimes it might be people that are kind of about their later stage of investing, they choose to tend to pull back and want to do more things outside of just making dollars. They’re looking at figuring out how they can make and do social goods so you certainly do have to look for those people. They’re out there 100% and investors, angel investors, as well as everybody wants to do some good things. So I think it’s them getting behind the CEO of the company so it resonates 100% with what you’re sharing. Is there anything that you would suggest Michael has a question and it says “what networking methods can best help us startup pivot to raising funds for a private investor with deeper pockets exact example 100k?”.

So I guess to paraphrase that from from a start-up that’s looking to pivot and right now they are taking some investment, if they decide to make that pivot how do they get the support for that? And is it something that existing investors would look at helping with? If not how do they start to interest VCs were they can get larger based money coming in especially if the pivots generating a quick traction

Jennifer:
Sure, thanks for the question Michael. So what I would say is that your current investorsare usually your frontline in future investments. So they’re committed as well and as much as you want the company to be successful so today. That being said, however assuming the pivot is in a fashion that is reasonable and that is either necessary or kind of the right path, usually your current investors more often than not are your frontline to be helpful for raising either a bridge round or getting you to the next step. That being said, when you’re looking at that transition from let’s say angel investments to a larger VC round, I think really reaching out to VCs that are in your particular vertical and really focus and have deeper pockets are where you need to go and a lot of times some of your angel investors are already connected with those individuals. So for example some investments in the medical device space, for argument’s sake, as a good reference are also investments that VCS hold as well in that space. So I’d be able to make that introduction a lot easier and because you know there’s been a lot of historical working together, there’s just a lot of trust and openness there, so I think moving that along would be a lot more simple and helpful.

Jeffery:
You got to really rely on your network with your connections with your initial team of investors and I think one thing that probably would stand out with that aspect is that when investor comes in, there’s a lot of discussion around smart money and taking money. And I think there’s a really blurred line on what that actually means. I think that when people do ask them looking for smart money at the end of the day people are looking for money. But what they’re looking for is they’re looking for a network, an individual that can help them move quicker and faster. I think sometimes we have to look at when I do bring in financials anywhere that it comes in is that I take the time to sit down with every individual investor at that time. Figure out what they know and figure out what they can help your business with. And once you’ve been able to do that, you’ll start to see that their network is made up of thousands of people. Your network is, there’s a ways to actually bridge that out and start to make traction and inroads into other verticals. Meet other investors like you mentioned from a VC standpoint. And that’s all gonna come over time. It won’t happen on the same day you start knocking on doors but or start talking to the investor but it’s building that relationship up with your initial investor. And a lot of the time, what do you treat those initial investors like you would treat your initial team, you’ll find that as you grow they’ll continue to want to grow with you. And if you exit, they’re gonna be the first ones to step up and invest in you the next time a company you’re gonna build, because they’ve got such a an admiration if you will and respect for what you did the first time that they’re going to be the first ones in the second time. So there is a lot of value that you’re going to get out of that initial investors. So I want to wholeheartedly agree with that. That’s fantastic.
So to kind of summarize all of this, we’ve gone through the whole journey of the investment side of things and Jennifer, it’s fantastic to learn more about where you’ve come from and where are you currently at now. I think the last final question that I’ll throw at you before we end up moving forward on this was, what is that transition, what will the next twelve months look like in the world of investing for you? But in general, I guess also for everybody else, where do you see things changing and where do you see it maybe netting over the next three years?

Jennifer:
Yeah. I think a great question how things are gonna change in the next year as we move forward, I touched on a few of those points before. I think deals are gonna happen, they may be a lot slower than what we’re used to and maybe there’s going to be an emergence of verticals that are more meaningful in light of what’s happening, and I think people are going to be pushed whether it be companies as well as investors to kind of understand different spaces that they may not have otherwise understood. So again really being open to learning as an investor about different areas and expertise, really aligning yourself with being able to participate in those opportunities I think it’s important. But as a company understanding how you make your current company relevant, but if you’re a budding entrepreneur, how you start a company in an area that has a lot of impact and meeting and support.

Jeffery:
Awesome. Well, I would like to round it off, by saying thank you very much for sitting down with us today and being our world-first live one-on-one interview. And i will say that this was a thousand times more awesome than when we first did it. And maybe one day, we’ll post the first one out and we’ll both be like “man, this one was not as good as this one”. But I do again I appreciate, Jennifer, all of the time you’ve spent sharing insight and everything that you’ve done. You’re fantastic, and thank you for sharing, again, I say that a million more times but you were great and I believe that the audience is pretty happy as well for everything you shared and we look forward to having you join us again. And we will let everybody know when we’re ready and share out the interview. We’ll probably do some cuts and edits and and send out some pieces of this, but very excited to have you again.

And thank you everybody else for joining us and if you have any questions comments thoughtsfeel free to reach out to us at info@opn.ninja. Thanks again, Jennifer.

Jennifer:
Thanks everybody, it was a pleasure being here this morning with all of you.

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