Azam

"It's not going to be an easy job. You just have to be resilient. To pass these days, and stay with the idea and I say - with your dream"

- Azam Mohabbatian

Azam outlines what she looks for in a start-up

Talk Takeaways

Azam Mohabbatian shares her journey and learnings in angel investing. For this episode, Azam and Jeffrey touched on various topics on the importance of the startups’ resiliency, cash flow management, the right startup team, product fit, growing sales, the support that you can get from the startup community, and the importance of balancing life when you’re an entrepreneur.

Azam also shared her interesting insights on the investment landscape in the next 36 months.

About

Azam Mohabatian is a results-driven entrepreneurship and technology professional with proven experience in the areas of business strategy, operations management, and process planning. Proven ability to develop quality products and innovative solutions in alignment with business operations excellence. Known for effective collaboration with key business partners and stakeholders; implementing the business solutions, products, and communication strategies to build cohesion between geographically remote teams. Demonstrated commitment to problem-solving, using attention to detail, creative thinking, and tireless work ethic to overcome challenges.

Some success stories include:

* Realizing expansion into five Latin American countries by listing and prioritizing pain points and challenges and taking corresponding actions.

* Saving $350K in quarterly operating costs by optimizing processes and implementing an automated system to track and evaluate sales team results.

* Maintaining unity and consistency across a geographically remote team by communicating shared goals and setting up a platform, technology, and systems to allow training, monitoring, and evaluation.

Azam feels fortunate to work in an area that lines up with her personal interests. In her spare time she enjoys investigating and reading about new technologies.

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Welcome Azam. Very excited to have you here today. Today we’ve been doing interviews with a lot of different Angels. It started off to be in Canada. Now, it’s become Angels across North America. And today, we want to learn a little bit more about you and what you’d like to invest in, why you invest, why you got into this space, and we’ll go into a bunch of those different details. But maybe today, you can just give us a little bit of a background of yourself, where you came from, and then today of course where you are, and we’ll go from there.

Azam:
Thank you so much the same here for having me. My name is Azam. I’m a pretty new like Angel investor. I’m being tech I can tell you that from the day that I graduated from university because my background was back to computer and after that I moved to business. I understand there is something in business area so I started to like hear everyone you know working in the corporation. At the very moment that you know back to 2013 that we started our first business which was a mobile application right training and all of this journey started and it was too much and the excitement the moment and also too much lesson learned so I started to jump into this ecosystem. I’m super happy to be honest. So far have been a lot of up and down as you know that the nature of sort of how is that but in general I’m very excited to take a decision in order to move to this area. So I’m here and open to answer any questions you may have.

Jeffery:
Awesome so you mentioned that you’re kind of new to the space so what got you interested in startups? What was the what kind of pushed you or changed the whole mindset from going corporate to something small?

Azam:
Yeah, yeah, you’re right. So the point is that you know as you may know from investment points of view probably investing sort of especially for the people that you know they are safe in a corporation side. Is not is risky you know the majority of the new companies and the new products simply don’t make it because there are a lot of reason why and a lot of competition the market especially in North America. But you know to me it’s more than dollar sign you know because you know during the past experience that I had in there I mean dealing with investors and also you know trying to build trust with them to invest in my dream. It was kind of challenging and too much stress and too much lesson learned so and the very moment that I was thinking if I can make our business successful and if I can be I mean safe to you know from startup ecosystem and one day I became investor. I see I tried to see the soul of a sort of an entrepreneur as I you know I expected from the besides of the investment and the money and all of this conversation and the capital and all of the financial information. The majority of investors they are thinking about that. Someone see the soul of the people behind of that and support their value and also the self-sacrifice that they did in order to build something matters to them and their society. So that is the main
reason that I decided to become investor.

Jeffery:
Well, that sounds pretty exciting and a good way to do it. Yet you wanted to learn both sides and then figure out how to help a startup balance what they’re going through to get funding. You mentioned that what you were looking to do is you’re getting people to invest in your dream. So, maybe you can explore that a little bit more with us because I’m curious to see was there something that you did to help de-risk the investors so they would want to come into your dream? But how did you get them to do that and what did you start to see throughout this journey of convincing investors and de-risking
the whole opportunity so that they’ll want to invest? Is there a tactic or a trick or something that you’ve learned or you’ve done over time to get investors ready for this. Now you’re an investor so you’re investing in other people’s dreams, right? So, is there something you did to get people to help you?

Azam:
To me I’m based on my experience you know a sort of is a dream game. Of course there are a lot of items behind of that the market and the idea and etc. the team. But the point is that the the person is going to build something and start dreaming about building something. All the games started from that moment and how much this person is I mean serious about this game. So for me, what’s that you know when we started from I mean because the first application that we have started it was cool application mobile application back to 2013. Uber came up to the market a lot of stuff regarding to technology and the technology behind the traditional. I miss the ecosystem in the market. So we’re dreaming about okay let’s make something customized based on the specific market because we have started from Latin America and you know how is the market of Latin is that completely different, completely different structure, and the people, and culture, etc. and also different needs. So when we started to build this dream and adapt it you know with the North America make some mixing of these two we have seen that you know I’m sorry to we learn that we have to talk at some point with the investor because you know at first we just you know count on ourselves and dream and the money and the fun and we invested a lot and risk to be honest that’s why I told you that about the sacrifice. So we learned that okay at some point since the business goes very well it’s the momentum that you know we have to bring investment and also this gold player in the market. So we started to you know communicate with them. We understood at earlier stage especially we didn’t have any experience to become you know entrepreneurs. So at first we have seen that you know this is we are not prepared for that you know so we have to deal with them. We have to sell this idea they have to trust on us and trust our an idea beside of all of the elements that we have tried to put in the right place you know. I mean the team, the projection, the model, etc, etc, so all of our relationship or the properly the secret sauce that we have it’s about the personal connection and the trust that they made on us you know because they have seen us that we are you know fully 100% dedicated for the business and we have seen that something it has a proposal for us you know. It was not just you know let’s make something you know to you know because that moment I sort of and this idea came up and everyone wanted to try it. So it was not that it was serious job for us 24 hour all of the family everything the financially focused on that to make it happen and actually I can tell you that we made it happen. But the point is that the challenge for investors especially for the venture-based or venture-backed investor that we have started to to talk to them it was seriously it was a too much software regarding, the trust regarding, who we are the how we are going to do that and that is the I mean something I can tell you that it is what drove me in order you know to even one day I became that kind of an Angel investor or investor. Try to see the other side of the game as well you know because if you have a good team, if you have a proper business model, the rest is done execution. These people that they are making too much sacrifice and risk they can make it happen you know even though if necessary they can pivot on change the business model this is not the big deal the team who they are stay for up to end you know. So that is the kind of you know I told you that they are regarding the relationship with the investor that it’s good to build that at first and after that the rest of the items came up.

Jeffery:
And that’s that’s some good advice. And I think you kind of rounded out a bunch of different things and I i think you’re really looking at how you de-risk the business. Again is the biggest thing for the investors so that they’ll have interest. You’ve got the right team, you’ve got the right product, you’ve got the right drive, you’re working 24 hours a day. It sounds like you’ve kind of full rounded all of these things that you do and you did in order to get the investors attention and get them feeling comfortable with what you guys were doing. You mentioned one thing and I think it really stands out and maybe it’s something that doesn’t get talked about a lot and that was count on ourselves. And you mentioned that you got to count on yourself and it’s interesting to say that because I’ve never actually heard anybody say this when it comes to a startup but that’s believing in yourself and driving that business and doing all these things that really get behind what you’re trying to achieve. And then finding like-minded people like you mentioned on the team side they get behind you. Is there a certain trick that you might have or a way that you can change your mindset so that you can tell other founders hey you know you got to believe in yourself. Is there something you got to do like write it on a wall like believe in yourself and everywhere you wake up and you write you read believe in yourself like what is there that you can really get some of these startup founders to start to understand that they’re doing something great but it’s going to be a tough slag to get through it.

Azam:
Actually I think everyone has an own formula you know I mean that everyone has a user experience during the years that they leave and they work and etc you know. So everyone has their own way or the philosophy for that but for me because you know when you we decided to saw that thinking about it this journey and the this idea and this model it’s sort of before funding up company you know. It was like a three four months we try as much as possible. We get some advice, we talked, we researched, we did our due diligence before even fund the company you know to be sure that this is because we are going to be you’re supposed to put the 100% of everything on that you know, the time, the family, the the money, and everything, so you have to be sure there is no way back you know. You have to just go straight for one so there is no going on yeah I mean so for that reason I that is the reason why I say that I put myself, and all of the experience, and all of this skill that they have, there is no perfect person even doing the investor side you know. That is not perf you should be perfectionist but there is no moment that you say is done and it’s over. You have to always you know look for more and more and more because this space is unlimited you know you can do as much as you want you can even doing the business side in operation in investment side you know so that is I mean the secret sauce or the reason why is that i divide myself into a sit down you know. Have a privacy and think three/four months. Gather all of the information is required due diligence personally about this whole journey it’s not about the just idea because you know sometimes idea make you poison your mindset. You cannot think so you think that this is the best and brilliant. To be honest there are a lot of brilliant idea in the world that a lot of them they could be successful a lot of them they felt even though that the idea at the moment and the time was brilliant you know this there are a lot of factors or criteria out of your control you know. Even though like sometimes luck is very important to at the right moment connected with the right person or do the right things or changes in product so for this reason before that you have to settle down and take a decision. If you want to getting in this game this is all in you know. So always you have to think there is no way back so that makes you you know push you, motivate you to go in through the all of these off and on situation that there are a lot yeah.

Jeffery:
Well I like that. It reminds me of a line I always use when I’m explaining this to other CEOs or other company members is that I have to live on the brink of destruction every day. I have to think to myself that if I don’t do this nobody else will and it has to motivate me and drive me to make sure that I do this or I’m going to fail and you know they talk about failing fast and everything else but to me it’s not about failing fast. It’s about envisioning where you’re going to go and how you’re going to get there and that taking no for an answer and making sure that you can’t fall back because if you fall back there’s no one there to catch you. So, you really do have to push yourself and find ways to motivate and get yourself driven to say you know what I’m building something and I’m going to make this work. And you talked about when to bring investors into your business. When do you feel that your business is in a good spot a good position. Is it based on revenues? Is it based on team size? Is it based on burn? There’s a lot of factors that go into de-risking your business but there’s also a lot of factors that would go into regulating where you feel you’re at a good spot that you should start looking for dollars. And do you have a formula or do you have anything that you gauge where you see a company you’re like you know what I love where these guys are at? I want to go and invest on them or I want to work with them. Is there
something that you put in there and then those people know at that same time hey we should be getting investment because we’re at this right stage. Is there something that you have as a measure for that?

Azam:
I think there are the only things is that see this process from the entrepreneurial point of view is a little bit different from the investment from the entrepreneur point of view. The way that we have we did it was you know we have go further you know we put our our personal financial money and also we developed there the product product was completely was in the market the beta test was done you know. It was the numbers financially and the
operational wise shows that there is a growth and we can reach to the city growth. So that was the moment that we as a entrepreneur see okay now is the time to bring others to this you know to share this story with them but this is from the you know entrepreneur because you want to see, you want to be sure that everything is in the right point you know. so probably we were not in the best situation for the legal point of view because you know they are coming and these two they’ll just process and we will not lucky documented enough because this is a game of the all of the newspaper and etc. So of course with the help and support of them and with a lot of you know meetings with investment understood that this is wrong or this is right and you have to have this information otherwise because mainly very sure about the business itself and the operation itself. It was the time that we reach out to the investor. So this is a view of the entrepreneur. From the investor point of view, I think the way I see is that you know first of all I at first at the beginning i check who are this founder and how much they are serious about this. Do they seize like you know if they are young just graduated from university this is very good they are young and smart and they will bring their smartness and brightness to the market. But the point is that this game do need maturity a lot of time you know. So they are prepared for that a lot of stuff that is going on or no and other after I do I see the in I mean the funder group. I checked you know the the business model itself, the idea, especially because right now there is too much competition in the market. There are a lot of brilliant idea but you know is it enough? It is good to have it but it’s not enough so I checked the business idea is this idea scalable strong enough in order you know to invest on that in the long term and build it and change it and et cetera so I mean something like there is a real an actual needs in the market after all even though if they are in the early stage. It is too much risk from the investment and money point of view but sometimes if the other elements there are properly I mean pointed okay it’s okay if it’s [inaudible] also has a lot of benefit for the investment point of view you know. It’s a team door proper team and the business model an idea is a scale level and strong enough okay it’s good that there is not traction yet. So, after the beta test and etc all of them I mean the quarterly or any milestone that they have you can see that okay it has a enough value in order to back again, reinvest, or pause the investment. Do not take a decision about investment I’m back to them in a month or two especially because of the COVID. But you can see that this practice is repeated a lot so back to them to see if this cycle it’s work properly the
cycle is complete or not.

Jeffery:
Well that’s full rounded. I like that. There’s… you’re doing a lot of things to verify if that company is ready but at the same time you’re seeing is the company de-risking or reducing the risk in the avenue to allow you to come in to invest, and are they doing the right steps from business plans and modeling and setting up their revenue structure for you to see that there is a movement going forward, because you’re going to invest early or you’re going to invest late so you can come in at any stage, but as long as they’re lining this up and continually updating everybody there’s going to be some value for you. I guess when this that you’ve gone through this whole picture, you’re working with a startup, you’re getting a good feel for, what they’re looking for, what they’re able to do. Is there anything that you see from your business standpoint or business background in a tech or whatnot that you look for maybe in the owner or maybe in the team or is it in the product? Do you focus just on tech like, is there something that you structure you’re looking for that will really help you get to the other side and want to make an investment?

Azam:
Actually as I mentioned is a mix of a lot of elements but more important is the team I mean the funding and business lead or leader. Teams because they are going to execute it. They are going through you know dealing communicating and building something this is the first thing. The second one is the business model itself so business model has something and innovation-wise or even though from the needs point of view is there any real or is just bubble or something like you know most of the startup these days they say about the AI. But you know AI machine learning they are they need time they need the data. They are talking about the big data and et cetera so you know that part. It’s like a nice to have at the core of the business as a business model has to make sense and there is a need for that that means they are solving some sort of real problem. This is the second item that we consider that. And the third outcome is that you know the the rest how is the projection if it’s early stage okay how is the plan they can plan for it like in three years because after that if there are proper team and the model itself makes sense there are the people that they can turn the pitch to something you know tangible. So this is the third part is attraction if already they have a better etc. If they don’t have it do they have like a three… three or four actually it’s three I guess is enough for us because you know the dynamic of the market is too much so you cannot stay like a 10 year financial projection doesn’t work unless you want to make it you know the second round of investment and you want to see that if they are I mean accurate enough in the first. How is their projection you know do you want to evaluate the projection versus the model itself yeah.

Jeffery:
And are you looking at when you’re working with companies do they need to be post revenue? Do you want them to be in
revenue before you start working with them? Or do you look at them after?

Azam:
Ideally is having revenue even though the point is that you know revenue has a bond sign that this cycle that the owner or the founder that define it works. Is it perfect or is it not down the road, the time and etc. and the asset and all of the resources is going to improve that but the point is that
if you build something especially unless you have you are working something in the long term like a more RND base like if you take an etc then you do need like a research in a long time three five you know but foreign point of view or from the early stage investor if you make something that you know can generate revenue. I mean all of these dots is connected and makes sense so it’s a good sign you know after that is a challenge how we can make it double three times or four times and etc. But if is I mean earlier stage from the I mean the idea itself and the development itself you can be like we had a like for example startup that came to the group for example they have like four or five years in the market and they call themselves they’re not earning a [inaudible] enough and they didn’t have any revenue. For them this is the sign that this model is not working or these call all of this cycle and these people together people resources technology etc there is something wrong you know. So that is there is a yes or no but the case by case is different but in general if there is a revenue, revenue is a good sign so you can see that this is you can boost it and with the more money, more investment, or more networking. So it’s going to be you know reach the growth or et cetera it can be successful business model yeah.

Jeffery:
So revenues they’re going to help because they help proove that the market is there, that there’s a value. I liked your three items of are they solving a real problem, do they have a strong team supporting the product and behind it and they planned and balancing their risk. Not just now but in the future so yeah I think those are three great things now when you’re talking about–balancing and planning risk. And I know we were chatting about this before and it it came up as kind of a hot topic. But we’re in COVID, out of COVID, playing inside of this mystery box. Is there something here that allows or that you will work with startups on how to actually de-risk or balance themselves during COVID? Because their business might not be relevant or their business may be super relevant and there’s going to be risk factors on all sides. So is there any things that you provide to share with startups on how to better balance that type of risk and adapt during this time that we’re going through?

Azam:
You know you’re right you know COVID almost changed all of the calculations the growth that has been in investment especially from the Angel and Angel group in 2019. It was completely different with the training training not because of the here they are not enough good idea or the new story because of the disease but like unexpected situation you know. And you can see that a lot of I’ve seen that a lot of you know angel groups they are moving to the stock market in order to have a more balanced investment probably but the other one is still they try to commit it or return some of the value that already generated through this market you know. So that’s why it could be a little bit changed the market from the way that i see that but you know for a sort of I think for in order to you know to pass these days and to reach to the point that they are you know they can mainly focus on the business not like all of these unexpected situations that happen is that to first of all is manage the cash flow. It’s very important you know because now in the the way we see that in America also is like this that we do not expect it to see a sort of with the reasonable number of revenue or you know the big traction but we are looking for the one that they can manage this kind of situation financially in the reasonable I mean that cash flow management increase the runway or do not expect it to do they do like a pivot or dramatical change because you know there is no sign enough sign in the market in order to that this business model or this product or this approach is not going to work because all the market still is in shock So the only things is that they can first of all they can manage and pass this message to the communication team management et cetera that it is a sign of how much mature is the founder. The second one is that they can survive to do the I mean is there already cash flow that they had ordered through the connection the the government fall or any sort of sourcing that already they have activated or still are active in in the market. So this is the other skill but again back to the fund that they they have that financial I mean maturity regarding [inaudible] and they can you know pause for a while in order to see how is the market and back to them. So it’s a skill to you know control and manage this cash flow.

Jeffery:
So it kind of really does come down to managing your your cash flow, your burn rate, your run rate, and then trying to figure out how you’re going to be able to survive in the next four to six months or longer and that could be diving in and learning a bit more about government funding and support so non-dilutive funding that can help you. So it really comes down to is that it’s a real financial burden you have to really hone in on survival and survival means keeping the cash close and utilizing and paying for resources that you need in order to grow and not the reverse, not just stacking a
team just so that it looks good if you’re not going to be able to generate sales.

Azam:
Yeah, yeah, you’re right three companies [inaudible].

Jeffery:
So, is there something that this kind of takes you away from a company like you’ve talked about how you’ve de-risked, it how you find things that you’re looking for, when you want to make an investment that they manage cash flow, that they’re they’re challenging, they’re finding out what they want to be where they’re going to go, they’re solving a real problem. Is there something that distracts you from wanting to invest in a company, like things that you don’t think companies should do like just a couple of points that you know don’t get a board when you first start out. It’s not something that’s really needed maybe wait a year. Let your company get to a position where it’s growing and it’s learning and then bring a board on. Is there little things that you think that companies shouldn’t put a lot of focus on because they’re trying to get at least a position in their business to move it forward or are there anything like that that you look for that you would say hey you’re doing too much just do this?

Azam:
You know it depends on the company and the stage that they are for especially for the I mean the company just funded I mean 2019 or early or the the founders are fresh. We recommend them you know especially when we see them you know there are they haven’t still understand how is the situation and how risky is that for in order to survive in this market and so they are you know hiring a lot of people or advisor or kind of director I can call that they are novel on and they are expensive and too much commitment because there is no clarity about the long-term midterm future. So if they are sign up with this kind of not wasting money is likely you know risking their rates in a short term. If they are these kind of companies or the one that they are you know they try to invest a lot on the product I mean you know that especially the tech company or when the founder is a tech oriented they are playing with this product and the technology side of that you know. Because if you know for example if you want to make something like AI based and you have like a you know you’re hiring the the guys are very expensive and they are very talented as well so if you are investing in early stages in AO is like a special kind of you know specialist or the the the developer etc and for that that moment is not matched with the situation of the company or even though they are investing in the other side you know the start business like administration operational etc. So this is not a good sign I mean they
are not probably they are going to I mean survive in these situations so the resilience one the one that they can stay in the market they can be more wise and this is the time of you know to be more logical than emotional. They are the winner so definitely you are not going to risk on them and definitely they are going to send receive something message from the investment market that you know they have to learn how to manage this stuff you know even though they want that because they have some of the startup at the moment that they wanted you know they I mean everything was established properly and it was the moment for you know to boosting the business because already they have had this city revenue. So COVID hits so this is a matter of the
items the team management communication and it’s just wrong and changing the plan. So one of the founders that we knew that and it was like the reason why that we paused a little bit investment was because he couldn’t manage this kind of crisis. You know what I mean this was too much for him in the on his plate so he had enough time I mean there were a lot of you know me intercommunication issue between the team member and etc and the company and
money time etc we pause on the investment. So the case such as this one yes it’s a kind of blocker yeah.

Jeffery:
That’s interesting because I like that you said be logical and less emotional. It makes a lot of sense that sometimes we become too caught up in
what we’re doing too emotional and we forget that there’s actually a logical way to get around the problem or to move it forward. So I really like that line and I also… I like that the points that you brought up. They’re very accurate to the fact that they go back to your bottom line again and I think a lot of startups what they do is when they start to get those funds and they raise they start to feel I need to hire. Everybody and they forget that they only have so much money. Let’s just say they raise 500,000 but they feel they should be a team of 10 but they could probably accomplish what they need to do as a team of four instead of a team of two. So they’ve upped their game they brought in two people but they focused exactly what those two people’s roles were to offset the maybe the workload but increase the revenue load. So a lot of it goes back to focusing on the sales side and other times companies will go into that heavy build like you said. They’re going to start doing tech like crazy and thinking they need every bell and whistle and I think a lot of the times they forget that those bells and whistles confuse their audience and that they need to slow down the release process of what they’re doing with their product because the more clients they bring on, the more things they’re going to get feedback on what’s actually missing or
what’s needed from a tech stack standpoint. And then, that again costs money so there is a slower approach that allows you to learn the space you’re in and a bigger approach that brings those revenues in to support those next growth and changes. So I 100% agree with that and I think that that’s fabulous because I think a lot of times startups get too excited about the product and they forget that they need sales and they need to do everything in a tactful way just like they were able to raise money tactfully. They need to take that and use that against resourcing, and planning, and structuring of their business. That was good. I like that. Very very very good. So is there, in the time that you have been investing, is there been a story or an exciting moment that you’ve been part of that you really liked and said you know what this startup came from this I heard about them two years ago and then when we got into them and started working with them I really saw them you know blossom and bloom into something great. Is there some exciting story that you want to share? I love stories so I’m looking for one of those exciting startup stories that you’ve been part of or that you’ve heard or whatever that can really just emphasize kind of the way the market works and where the downs and ups like you talked about can fit in. Is there something there that you want to share?

Azam:
The [inaudible] you know I’m pretty new in the investment side so for me is still is you know discovery and listen and you know you’re right. The story of the people each sort of they have their own story. So they have in the story of the sort of then the you know they came with a very funny very entertaining business idea and they jumped it in two years and after that because of the some you know not proper modeling or financially modeling. The
the business they were to the moment that they wanted to shut down and and the last moment the one lead came up and they trusted him and you know the company again. But the good things is that the company again stand up and you know back to them not the previous point that they have been but the point is that they knew with this injection that is to be honest it was trust on the people you know because the business model was completely done. So with that I mean the new injection didn’t know no money. They changed the business model very very conservative without damaging the user experience that they already have I created for the user and they boosted the game so still they try you know they try and they copied a little bit but in a good way because it was like an entertainment platform. So in a moment that everyone said that probably they’re not going to you know back again to the market the COVID a little bit helped them because the people had a more free time or more probably they they need more entertainment or entertain to be entertained. So and also that trust that came from them. The close I can the referral investor network help them to you know two boost and back to the game. So for me everything all the story is new. I cannot remember like right now they’re like the one that it is like awesome or something that it’s… The only things that came to my mind now is both this company that yes they’re mixing up…

Jeffery:
That’s still pretty cool like they got to the brink of we’re gonna fail and they were pivoting and trying to change and then someone kind of fed them the lifeline and they turned it around and that’s a good pivot and a smart smart place. So, sometimes you got to be on the sinking or swimming or something and then you got to get the door right so eventually someone gives you a life raft or you make it away there yourself. But it’s good that They were able to get some help and they turned the business around. So that’s exciting. It’s very exciting.

Azam:
Yeah but it came from the referral network I mean the things that I’ve seen that it sometimes is do the magic or that secret sauce or something happened last moment it was like trust on the business community or the investor community you know sometimes this group like angel group and the mars and etc. The people who are behind of these names so that they are playing the very important and significant role in the success of the sort of that is very important to mention that you know and it’s good it’s good that we have this kind of supportive community in the market and they can support the sort of in the in the momentum that they need that yeah.

Jeffery:
Well before we jump into the rapid questions just because you’ve mentioned this a few times and I really do like it you mentioned a lot of the trust factor and I think it makes a big difference to an investor for sure and companies really do need to figure out how they de-risk it but get themselves into a trusting position. So, do you recommend that startups spend more time reaching out to the community reaching out and trying to talk to all investors that they can talk to and really turn that into a job like or at least a really full-time role? Do you recommend that that’s what’s needed if they want to be successful? Is basically trying to streamline that story and really get it isolated down and get as much feedback as you can from everybody? Or do you look at it being you know what only find investors that fit into your realm of investing? Like how do you recommend from what you’ve seen on that side?

Azam:
Actually, I do recommend that you know to protect or define a strategy in order to protect your IP and your idea because you know that how is it this market and how competitive is that after you’re sure about it you are safe and secure because this is giving you the advantage in order to be in the market and the all of the revenue and all of the strategy that you have learned in years. I believe that opportunities is everywhere so if you want to be succeed you have to you know look everywhere especially you know because at the end in the network you have to be connected enough or you have to look for the people that they can make may help you. Probably the reason of this kind of you know looking around is that you will hear a fair no or negative or rejection which is good because for every kind of I mean every person has a different point of view because they are especially in the angel groups because they are investing their own money. So everyone has their own criteria in order to invest so more rejection more lesson learned in order to prepare yourself or your momentum to you know to be connected to the right person which is the right investor to understand all of the this model and you and the team and etc. So for this reason I really recommend especially because I’ve seen that for now I’m using the mature entrepreneur they are the people who are who are I mean getting more rejection that acceptance you know because accept it even though sometimes you don’t get too much money but give you this feel and this bubble that you know everything is fine and there is no a problem. But the reality is that there is no perfectionist in this game so as much as you can prepare yourself as much as you are prepared financially business model etc you will have more chance in the future when there is momentum that you are sitting or connecting with the right person or the right group and you are going to in 10 minutes take a decision yes or no you know. So this all of the momentum and how much you are equipped for that momentum is came from this kind of networking. So, I personally to me is that you know reach out everyone opportunity everywhere do not be you know disappointed do not be I mean keep yourself motivated because you know even though especially Angels if they say no there is no meaning and there is no reason that you are not proper probably you are not matched with the all of the I mean the portfolio he has defined for himself or the strategy you know what I mean. So, there are other opportunities and it’s a matter of practice to you know to find yourself in this ecosystem. So I recommend it to go everywhere everywhere opportunities there yeah.

Jeffery:
I like it and I wholeheartedly agree with that. That you know the you might pitch 50 and find the 49th, 50th person has an interest in your product but the first 48 gave you a lot of negative feedback or didn’t like it. But all of that information is what led you to get that 50th person or 49th person to close because without all that previous information you wouldn’t have got better. You wouldn’t have been continuing to grow your company. And from the first pitch to the 50th pitch, that could have been three months. And the growth that you would have got just from all those people giving you feedback is huge. So, I love that that you got to get out there and pitch everybody it’s a it’s a full-time job it takes a lot of work [inaudible]. Eventually it will, right? We had one guy we that we were working with. We invested in one of his companies and I think he said he kept the spreadsheet of all the companies he pitched and it was something like uh it was a while back but it was it was something like he had pitched 480 cup people probably to close off 20 people. So you know it takes its toll but at the end of the day you learned a lot and you grow a business from it.

Azam:
Yeah you’re right yeah completely is like this yeah.

Jeffery:
All right well we’re going to jump into it. Probably one or two more questions after but we’re going to jump into the rapid-fire questions. So, in the rapid-fire questions I’ll ask the question and you can just quickly give a yes, no, one, two, ten, whatever the number of questions is but we’ll just do those quickly if that works for you.

Azam:
Yeah sure.

Jeffery:
All right. So, well we didn’t ask you what your favorite part of investing in startups was so we’ll ask that after but okay… First question. How many companies or dollars do you invest per year.

Azam:
Okay. I mentioned that you know because I’m early so for me it’s more about the learning of the ecosystem and after that investing. For the first year because you know I invest through [inaudible]. So for the first thing it was like one or two and down the road based on the you know experience I get from the market and how is the formula and how is the proper numbers you know because you don’t want to make it too much risk. At first, you want to learn more. So I go like a double it or even though sometimes it’s more so I’m in this stage and the current situation is like I want to stay with you especially for COVID. I’m gonna stay like a two and three and then what’s going on what’s happened and how is that. I do like yeah. I do my best in order to commit it to the community you know. So let’s see how it’s going on. Hopefully everything goes well yeah.

Jeffery:
Nope that’s perfect. And it’s the best way. The the last thing you want to do is go all in and then find out that it doesn’t work and then you’re not really working in the space anymore so nobody wants that. So being a programmatic approach is brilliant. Do you do, have you done, or do you, or you’re looking forward to doing any follow-up investments in the companies you’re in?

Azam:
No. For me I… No, it didn’t happen but the point is that I do trust on that if the company has I mean especially because nowadays because the one that will perform better they are less risky you know because you know the team you already go through all of the process and you need to do diligence. So if this cycle is okay and it’s working and they have their they reach and hit the milestone. Why not? Because this is riskier, less risky than you know investing new company and go through all of this process and you build the relationship and the trust already. So definitely yes. But so far, no. I haven’t had the chance to you know… [inaudible]

Jeffery:
Any notable portfolio companies that you’d like to share? Just the name or the interest in them or the value you don’t have to do all of it but just something that you find that you like about them.

Azam:
The tech ecosystem is broad but I personally I like because I believe on the digital side of the business is going to change so I think I’m looking for e-commerce. Looking for a Cleantech, anything AI based machine, learning based I think is a good spot to drive in everything that it is that has some social and you know and benefits for the people and even for the society I guess it’s good to go there. But not a specifically uh specific I mean sector no I’m very open and any subject definitely my I mean I don’t have any…

Jeffery:
You’re a generalist. It’s perfect.

Azam:
Yeah because the scene you see I don’t have to so I try to reduce the risk as much as possible yeah [inaudible].

Jeffery:
Okay, do you have any preferred terms?

Azam:
Common share. Convertible law. Something safe and risky and to be honest it depends on the company and maturity of that for early stage I think I feel like is more negotiation. How much do you connect it to the team and the founder and after that you can figure out how is the process. Yeah. And if I can I can add something like a value to the team and etc of course to be like a part of the team as well, why not? Yeah.

Jeffery:
Do you have a timeline for your investments like you like to work with a company for a month or three months before you make an investment?

Azam:
For us since we are part of MLA so they make a lot a little bit easier because the due diligence and a lot of this process they are huge help and also we have at this kind of network. And for me is more more like a more per my personal due diligence process you know that you know to get to know the team how is it that skill etc and their match or I can add some value for them. So, not very specific timing depends on the case and then you know sometimes I love the idea but sometimes you know it’s take a time two three four months and after that after three four months you see that you know. It’s not the proper match for two sides you know what I mean. So, this case by case is different. Yeah.

Jeffery:
Okay. And you take board seats?

Azam:
I love to do that. If I [inaudible] and we can, I can personally add value and they are looking for something like you know advising or someone can help them in order you know to boost their business to bring more I mean community to the game or bring any other knowledge etc yes definitely I would love to be part of that. But you know because I see that as a job you know it’s not like you know you want to be mentored because board city is not mentorship it’s your part of that game with them so it’s a little bit more responsibility. So if I select a company or we have selected both sides they agree to work
together why not and I do my best in other you know to to generate any value for them.

Jeffery:
Perfect. And is there any other ways that you mentioned a couple of these or any other ways that you like to help startups outside of just financing. Like will you join the team, work for them?

Azam:
I do love, yeah, yeah. I’m entrepreneur. You know my background. I came from that sector as well. I’ve been there fully 100%. So, sometimes even though that it’s not my part or because of any reason or even though they are not in the decision I can’t help them financially. I try to connect them and I do that you know connect them with all of the resources you have using some of the examples that I send this sort of to you because I believe there are some value in the team or the business idea itself. So, yes. I do my best through mentoring them helping them as much as I can. Yeah. Definitely.

Jeffery:
Brilliant. I love it. Okay, so that’s the rapid fire questions. So, one last question for you is, in your crystal ball, where do you see the market going in the next 12 months and 36 months? And what I mean by that is based on COVID, as we move our way through, do you see everything opening back up and more investment going into startups and what sectors? Or do you see that the investment for the next 12 months is going to be reduced and only here and versus in 36 months you think it’s going to blow up? What’s your kind of crystal ball telling you that all of the startups out there can look forward to?

Azamm:
I hope I’ve heard that answer you know accurate answer the point is that you know the global picture has been in the less positive you know. But always there are a lot of opportunity in the momentum such as this one. I think I see as I mentioned to you I see some move in there online businesses especially you know the rise of from the customer point of view from rise of you know agency that they are you know expecting to respond in the moment need. I think they will affect of the digital especially because most of the company almost most of the businesses came to digital but this digital structure I mean just having the website etc doesn’t have is digital eyes so I see that some move in that area, some new technology, and something will come up to the area. And definitely because of the COVID, there are some kind of attention to health space, biotech, and you know because they are kind of problem solver and they are looking for some issue and the problem. I’ve seen that. But investment I think is going to… I feel like especially in the group and all of the coming the close community that I have I see that it’s a little bit slow and conservative so I don’t think so it’s going to have the the same speed of last year. but quarter by quarter based on the progress of the general economy is going to you know you see something like good news about investment. But, yeah. I see… but the point is that you know some part of the market such as as I told you the [inaudible] taken and something more health or oriented or from us so because before they haven’t had enough attention probably was not fair for them and now is the momentum that they came up you know. So is like a other side of the I mean sectors is going to be more balanced based on the needs on the market but definitely
digital everything is going to be digital and the business who are helping or is this process they are going to be the winner from for both post party
yeah.

Jeffery:
Keep it digital. I like it. Good, it’s good. Yeah. And there’s a lot of change. So, I guess the the final thing even though I said that was the last question–what’s your favorite part about investing? And I give you the last word to say whatever you want to share with the startup community.

Azam:
So, in order to share your sort of communities that you know everything is very tough. You have a more responsibility as a founder before it’s one of them is that is to manage yourself your family every beloved one. The other things is that the other baby or the other dream that you have built and you take the decision in order to you know make it happen. So you have to make it balance between two. Now, right now, if it was before right now you have a true responsibility two things that have to be I mean to is in your hands. One of them is that your personal self, how you’re going to manage yourself and
others. And the other one is your business and the people who are attached to that business, from the employee, colleague, and etc, and even the investor. So it’s not going to be easy job. It’s not going to be I mean the any secret solution or secret sauce. You have to just be a resilient you know to pass these days and stay with the idea and I say with your dream because these days will pass and so let’s see how is going on and let’s to be efficient and and reasonable as much as we can for the moment time and the moment momentum yeah. But there are a lot of people in the community that can help you. Unless you have to reach out to them you know it’s not the time to stay you have to be extra you know double you to be superhero you know what I mean for yourself and for others. So there are potential help and support in the market just you need to show that you need help from the I means advising mentorship point of view and even doing investment yeah. This is the the last thing that I can tell them but you know I know it’s not going to be easy for a founder and a startup yeah.

Jeffery:
I love it. Well, you sound like you’ve got it. You’re very passionate and helpful with helping startups. I took lots of notes, which I love to do. So it was a great conversation. I think you shared a lot of great a great material for startups to listen to and to better understand how they should be risking
and going through business. And I love the the last line about being resilient and asking for help when you need it. Don’t be a superhero. [inaudible] And I think we all have a tough time doing that as entrepreneurs but I think that’s some great advice. So, Azam, I thank you very much for all of
your time today. I think you did a fantastic job. Lots of great information. And I will call that a wrap. You got the last word so thank you.

Azam:
Thank you really so much for you and for your support always you know you know that always when we need you I just send a message in the linkedin when we connected thank you so much for having me. And with having the people like you active and committed more important is committed to this community
for in the up and down this community is going to be I mean growth every day by day and it’s going to be unique. Thank you so much for your time yes have
a great time.

Jeffery:
Thank you very much and we appreciate your support too so…

Azam:
Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

Jeffery:
Have a great day.

Azam:
Bye.

Jeffery:
All right. That was awesome. So, I think we got a lot of great information and just to throw out a couple of things. Man, huge like, I love the “be resilient” part, you know. I think that there was a few times that’s come up but really being resilient and taking care of your and balance in life, your colleagues, your investors, your family, it’s a lot of work. But, man, when you get in there, if you need help reach out. You don’t have to be a superhero just to be able to take care of your business. But there’s a lot of people out there that’ll help if you ask. She provided a lot of a lot of great information. I love the the things about de-risking it and you know it’s about team solving a real problem and then balancing that risk. So those are great three things that she talked about. And I i think overall you really have to figure out how to balance that cash flow and she mentioned that a few times. Hire the right people at the right time. Don’t get stuck in the dev cycles. Balance your product, get product fit, and then start to grow your sales. So, Azam had some great great value to offer so thank you for that for all of your time today. It’s been great getting to learn more and work with you so keep up the hard work. And everybody else, great job. Thank you for joining us.

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