"Validate every single assumption in your business. Whether it may be about the product that you're trying to build, whether it may be about the market that you're going after, the user behavior expectations, whatever it may be... make sure you validate every single assumption in your strategy"

- Ehsan Mirdamadi

Ehsan outlines what he looks for in a start-up

Talk Takeaways

As an entrepreneur, Ehsan experienced the challenges that many startups can relate to. Listen to him talk about his entrepreneurial and investor journey as he shares valuable insights from bootstrapping, raising funds, building the team, and growing your business.

About

Experienced managing director with demonstrated record of accomplishments in cloud computing, IOT and IT infrastructure industries. Skilled in managing teams, strategy building, technology development, venture development, and (high tech) start-up coaching. Strong technology background with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Computer Science from York University.

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Welcome, everybody! Today we are running, I think it’s- we’ll just say it’s our 30th “Ask An Angel Interview,” and today we’re with Ehsan and I’m super excited to chat with you because we’ve known each other for a few years. I’ve seen you in action, in our screening meetings, and I’m really excited to learn more a bit about, I guess your whole philosophy around investing and all the things you’ve been up to. But why don’t we start off by getting a bit of a understanding of your background, so where you came from, what you’ve been up to? Kind of where you got to today and then we can dive into some questions and comments from there.

Ehsan:
Sure. Well, thanks for having me. So, my background, my educational background is actually in computer Science. I immigrated to Canada when I was 18 and I got into school to York University actually when I was 19, and same year I started my very first Company. That company was actually the one of the very first and one of the largest cloud computing companies in Canada. We were offering very much, you know, the same type of services, very much like what Amazon, and Microsoft, and Google are offering today. And so I ran that company for about 14 years as the CTO and the CEO, and ended up selling the company, and exited from that company. So at that point I wasn’t entirely sure what I was gonna do. I met with a few friends in San Francisco, Silicon Valley ecosystem and they were some world renowned scholars at Stanford University in Biotech and DNA sequencing space. And if you may ask, what is the relationship between the computer science and biotech? Well, the answer is everything just beyond where when you sequence the data is just computer science. So it’s data, It’s you know, interpretation of the data and extraction of information from that. So did that for a couple of years, was a CEO and one of the investors in that company and learned the whole process of you know, starting with an idea and taking it through many stages and steps, funding it through the ecosystem through the financial institutions are actually [ inaudible 2:43 ] and you know, such you know, those type of companies, and then ended up again leaving that company within about a couple of years. And really the reason was that I wanted to come back to Canada because me staying there wasn’t very much possible at that time. Came back started doing mentorship, volunteered with a lot of the institutions at the ecosystems of York University, University of Waterloo, Master York and Ryerson, and also UFC, and so I ended up connecting a lot of Startups, mentoring and advising their companies, and helping them out to raise capital, coached it, you know the founders mentored the founders in many different ways and kind of try to you know, support the ecosystem really in my own way. And through those engagements, I kind of learned about the angel investment, got connected with a few folks at GTAN and ended up sitting on the selection committee for a few years. You know, bringing in you know companies, interesting companies that came across helping them out, grooming them for the- to pitch in front of our selection committee, and then somewhat got an understanding of what angel investment was really all about.

Jeffery:
Well, that’s awesome! I- you mentioned something that I thought we could dive into is that in the companies that you work for, you were raising funds as well. So did that happen in both companies that you went into the markets and raised or was it just in the latter company that you invested in and you were participating in?

Ehsan:
So, the very first company that I built, we actually bootstrapped the entire thing. We organically grew the company to about 100, 000 clients over 14 years, and later by just observing what was happening in our ecosystem, I realized the potential of such type of businesses, but obviously had another type of realization, that you know, you cannot get to the potentials of you know, your company, if you’re no aggressively raising capital and growing the company to you know, to really get to the you know, what would be the typical company in those spaces grow to. I mean sorry just probably have to repeat that answer again for you.

Jeffery:
No, that was great! So, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. It’s you know, people always ask this hard-hitting question, “Should I raise funds?” And you know, my response is that because I never raise funds for the companies that I created but at the same time, if you’re looking for high growth, and to own a sector, and drive in the big space in a big fast way, then you need capital to do that.

Ehsan:
Exactly.

Jeffery:
And down the only way to do it, if you’re looking to just grow over time and have 20, 30 growth year over year and just maintain it and be able to support it, that’s different. You’re not looking for high growth and I think 100 to your point is that if you’re looking for that high growth, you have to look for capital. So, in the last business that you’re in and you were raising capital, how did you- was there a structure that you went after? And the reason I asked is, I think this will benefit the startups because you’re pretty methodical, you’re a computer science guy, you understand how moving pieces all work especially, I the the realm of analytics and data, was there something that you did and said, “You know what, I’m going after 400 investors, I’m going to close 20 of them, and that’s going to help me start my business,” was there some sort of process that you went after that you thought really benefited you in your approach to going after angels and vcs throughout the time you were building that company?

Ehsan:
Right. Well, to be honest I did not have a strategy. I’ve- at that point, you know, I never had the exposure that I needed to be able to raise the capital. So, what I did was starting you know, asking for a lot of feedbacks on my pitch- take on the idea on how to raise capital from so many you know, people that were connected, what we were connected to in our club you know, so-called family friends and so forth. From that point on I had an understanding that you know there are certain things, answers, and that the investors are looking for. So kind of started with my first version of the pitch take and in each and every conversation we were having with the investors, there were some blind spots that we didn’t even realize we had. And so, we reiterated on that pitch take and ended up before raising the round. Ended up you know, pitching to about 88 Institutions, and really having about 40 iterations of our- on our pitch deck. So, I had to learn the process.

Jeffery:
Well, it’s a good learning. And when you take a lot of companies through this process but when you’re- it’s a little bit different than when you’re part of the process and you’re going through iterations for sure. And you mentioned one thing that’s really stands out in this, is that you went for feedback. I think a lot of times startups may forget this point that they just go out, and auto repeat pitch, and they forget that you’re actually looking to get people to get comfortable with you, and to learn more from you and that feedback loop is massive. And it kind of correlates to pitching 80 investors, and getting feedback, and iterating at 40 different times. So, can you give me a bit more about that feedback loop, and what investors liked about it, and why it was beneficial to you guys raising the funds?

Ehsan:
Well, basically in every conversation, someone brings up a new point, and a new observation, new angle into your approach, and so I made sure that I’m listening to every single bit of word that comes out because to me I was sold on my own business idea, people were not. And so I had to go through that process, I had to learn what were thinking, what their thinking process were, and really try to address every single bit of concern, question that they had. And so, that way I think I was successful in ways- like in a way that you know towards the end of my journey, raising cap raising capital, there was almost no major question for anyone that was sitting in the room listening to our pitch. So, I make sure that I really listen and I act on them.

Jeffery:
No, it’s great! What I like about that the listen and act part of it, is in a good presentation if you put together a well adapted presentation to your audience and you adapt it to the audience, that you can shift and leave holes that will create questions that will make you answer them. So, that you look good but you don’t put the hole where you know it’s going to cost you confusion, so you try to clean up everything so perfect to a point where the questions you can almost predict what’s going to come. You’re staging it and that allows you to have the opportunity to speak to the audience and get the audience excited about what you believe is exciting and drive it forward.

Ehsan:
Correct and you know, one important fact going through this process is that when you are making claims about market, when you are making claims let’s say, about your go-to-market strategy, people always have questions. They have to be convinced not only on your strategy but also you know, on a lot of the assumptions. And so making sure that you’re addressing all of those challenges, questions in back of their mind is I guess was really the bulk of the process for me because people not always tell you about their concerns. They you know, maybe criticism in their mind like you’re making, and you’re making a claim they may have a different entirely different perspective and they may not always tell you especially, when you are going out there asking for capital, they may not tell you that, “Well, I don’t necessarily agree with you, so you got to make sure whatever assumptions, whatever claims you’re kind of putting out there is somehow and in one shape or form is properly addressed,” maybe that’s the better way of explaining it.

Jeffery:
No, I like that and in full circle, right? When people see that you’re actioning it and then they say, “Hey, I made that recommendation,” they feel empowered, they feel that you empowered them and then there’s more of a connection that may have them interested to want to Invest in a shorter period of time because they see that you were adaptable, they see that you were really working to make sure that you accommodated their opinions. Because it actually blended nicely into what you were trying to achieve.

Ehsan:
Exactly.

Jeffery:
You mentioned that in this feedback loop you went to friends and family, is there- there’s a good and bad to friends and family. Sometimes friends and family don’t want to tell you what you don’t want to hear. So in that process when you were learning from them, were you also going to people that may have been the opposite naysayers? Someone that you really knew that would just give you a kick in the pants and be telling you what you didn’t want to hear so that, that would force you to really sit back and think about it a little bit more?

Ehsan:
Well, I guess the key for this challenge is to really set a foundation from the beginning. not only for yourself but also for the people that you go to and that foundation is that, “I want you to criticize me,” and if you embrace it and if you really try to understand their way of thinking then you have a game. And so, I guess what happened for me Was, yes I first had to go to the circle Of you know close friends and family. got their feedback got their honest feedback on so many things but I had to go beyond that circle and kind of you know expose the business to the to the bigger circle of people and kind of even be comfortable to show their vulnerabilities and then you know the the shortcomings of your business. And really be hopeful that with proper advice, with proper feedback, would proffer- with I’m sorry with Proper advice you can actually you know close on those gaps and shortcomings. if that’s the attitude, I guess you can actually enjoy the whole process.

Jeffery:
And I’m guessing that in this process you didn’t take it all personally. Like you didn’t go home and not sleep for weeks because you got some feedback about something you didn’t like, you took this criticism and molded it into the business that you ended up selling or growing and building, right?

Ehsan:
Well if I tell you none of these feedbacks had any I guess emotional impacts on me, I would be lying. Everyone would go through a I guess, thinking process and really those items that are shaking you the Most, usually turn out to be your biggest challenge is obviously and you may not be upfront about it you may not be honest about it even with yourself Entirely but I would say paying attention to those emotions is extremely important. And so my answer to you is that when I was being challenged, I was not sleeping at times but I really tried to learn something from the process and kind of go back on the drawing board and Say, “What is it that I’m missing? What is it that is not really convincing to the to the outside world?” and asking those proper questions the ones that are shaking you, the ones that are giving the giving you the anxiety Sometimes, again they help you out to really identify the shortcomings and the gaps better.

Jeffery:
I like that and why is it creating that anxiety and really start to figure that out because like you said it’s the bigger challenge but it may also be the turning point to your business, it may also be a touch point that you see that needs to Change, and that question or that analysis helped you actually think a little bit deeper about what you were trying to achieve.

Ehsan:
Right. And so I guess you know absolutely Right and one of the most important things that I always tell the entrepreneurs that I help out with with their Projects is that you always as a co-founder develop your own blind spots. You need those type of mirrors. You need those type of feedbacks to shed light on things that you’re not even considering in your business and sometimes and quite often those blind spots may be your holy grail. So once you solve it, once you identify it, and solve it, then you obviously have a you know a lot bigger chance of success.

Jeffery:
No, I like that. That’s awesome! So now you kind of- you’re working two sides, you’ve learned about the investing side, what people were looking for, you got a lot of great feedback, you made the changes, and you continued to iterate throughout the process. You know, you mentioned the 80 pitches to get it down and change it 40 times but that was only one instance before you had to keep doing it again for the next round and the next round and the next round, but you’re continuing to grow and build and appeal to a bigger, wider audience because as you start to work from the jungle up the mountain, you start to refine that process and work your way up. So, now you’re coming back down the mountain and now you’re giving back and helping more startups, in this process you took your learning and now you’re turning it back, is there in this process of the feedback Loop, is there certain things that you really like? To like one or two points that you really like to emphasize on the startup that you know, if you’re going to start raising money? It’s going to be a long journey, make sure you plan it out, figure out when you’re going to go for money, hit milestones, like do you look at that type of thing as being a great structure for startups to look forward to? So that they can move in the right direction. So that they don’t go through that roller coaster up and down rides, where they don’t feel good about what they’re doing they feel bad and then they feel amazing because they close the deal, is there something that you kind of help them along that line or that process?

Ehsan:
Very good question. I would say at some point in that process, you kind of start building your own vision upon everything and everything that you kind of heard from outside observers, people will actually advise you and give you feedback. At that moment you kind of start creating your own tunes. You kind of start envisioning things in a way that probably nobody have- has ever thought of or could be giving you those kind of directions that becomes yours, the whole pitch, the whole vision, the whole strategy you put in place becomes something that is entirely yours. And if that’s the kind of a vision that she can impress people with, you do have an interesting journey ahead of you. You would know that you would have an interesting journey ahead of you and the goal and then sorry- the point here is that and maybe one of the most important takeaways in here is that if you want to be enjoying the ride, going through all the ups and downs in the process, and not losing track or your side on the main objective which is you know making a successful business, if you want to do that, if you want to go through that process, you got to make sure that you’re walking on it on a firm ground. And what is that firm ground? In my opinion, validating your every single Assumption in your business. Whether it may be about the product that you’re trying to build, whether it may be about the market that you’re going after, the user behavior expectations, whatever it may be, make sure you validate every single assumption in your strategy. When you are walking on a firm ground, shoot for that, shoot for the moon, go and aim harder as higher as you can possibly even imagine and then make that yours. Go out there, brag about it, talk about it, get the people buy-in into your idea, and really hope for the best. But if you’re not walking on a firm ground, if there are things, shortcoming gaps that you’re kind of ignoring for a while because you may have to sometimes. You really have to ignore some of the shortcomings that you know that you know, you do have but do not ignore it forever. Do not ignore them forever, build that firm ground, and then you would have a more enjoyable ride, and you would not get disappointed in those all those ups and downs because there’s nothing that can move you, there’s nothing that would negate all the assumptions and the ideas that you put forward, and you know the direction is right. Maybe there are challenges along the way but if you know that you’re well equipped or at least somewhat well equipped to get to your destination, then you do not kind of back off, you do not get disappointed going through all those challenges.

Jeffery:
I love it that’s awesome so got me all excited there for a second so the thing that I like about that is that when you have that solid ground it creates confidence and with Confidence and you mention this go around talk about a brag about it and what that does is it allows you to clearly think it allows you to plan and strategize better and get people to buy in more to that, so how do you build confidence you build a ground that you can stand on and that could be financially, team, dependence, whatever those things are that will build that value for you that then builds that confidence. so my next kind of question to that then is when you start to get some confidence, almost like the first time you raise funds, there’s kind of a trick here it’s that “hey wait I’ve never had someone give me money and wait I’ve never actually had a stable Business” so now I’ve got these two things now how do I control my balance so that I don’t screw this up and hire 50 people when I only have money for three and I only have the capacity to train three people but I have this all of a sudden I just have this unsought found craziness that I want to put together and grow so, how do you balance between the confidence and the risk? And how do you get startups to realize that you know what being confident and being on stable ground is amazing? that’s what you need to grow but you need to do this in small baby Steps or you know crawl walk run don’t start running because then that’s where a lot of these problems happen where the startups fail, so is there a balance between that confidence and risk factor when on stable ground?

Ehsan:
Well again, I would say making calculator risks you know, taking those calculated risks. Actually, I have to think. The better like this is a learning process for everybody at the end of the day meaning that you got to start taking some calculated risks. Learn from them whether those risks turn out to be successful for years, learn from them, observe, and take bigger steps, bigger risks. I would say there is no book that can tell you how to take risks, a lot of it is intuition, a lot of it is about again confidence, relative confidence that you have to really create along the way and then kind of exercise, experiment, and gain that confidence that you need to take bigger risk. And again somewhat worry about the results or the outcome, but quite often you should simply look at the results, look at the outcome, learn from it, close it down, and move on. That’s what we are doing in our everyday life and that’s what we have to learn while running a business.

Jeffery:
So, is there in a, I guess in one given moment, do you look at it and say, “Well maybe you should instead of..,” and this is maybe where a board comes in, maybe that’s the time where you say, “You know what, I should get a board here just to help with some control features or have someone on my team that wants to stop me from doing too many risks because too many at one time can be too many at once.” And you can’t focus on what the cleanup is or the learning from it, so is there a gauge or you’re just saying, “You know what, go with your gut, work it but just know you got to shut things down quick and move forward because you don’t want to get stuck behind the wrong spot?

Ehsan:
Well, there’s always a balance of intuition, and external feedback, and data points essentially, again that’s the process we all as entrepreneurs have to learn. And to your point, yes. One of your data points would be the advice that you’re getting from you know, many people, various people. Whether they are your advisors, mentors, or people that you come across in your as you are progressing into your journey. at the end of the day though it is extremely important for the court for the founders for the entrepreneurs to really feel and that they’re on the drive they are in the driver’s seat, they are making the ultimate decisions on of their own, and they are striking a balance between all the advices, feedbacks they’re receiving whether they may be all supporting a single point or single parameter or they meet they may be contradicting. At the end of the day your advisors as an entrepreneur, your advisors are- do have limited bandwidth, limited visibility into the business, and the everyday operation. If entrepreneurs, founders develop that attitude of being on the driver’s seat and always analyzing the situation, always receiving the feedback, always receiving all those data points, and trying to again strike a balance between what their intuition tells them, and what their logic tells them, helps them out to make better decisions. But it’s important that you know, they take the responsibility of their decision, they do it, they execute on those decisions and then they also still take the responsibility of you know, going back reviewing it, learning from it calls down on it and then just move forward.

Jeffery:
Agreed. Accept the responsibility, make the choice, go forward, and then accept the outcome and either you push it forward fast or you put the brakes on and try something different.

Ehsan:
Exactly.

Jeffery:
Well, that’s great. Well I think that was super informative. I think just that whole journey of things that you’re going to go through mentally and physically, going through this journey of raising and talking with a lot of different people, getting a lot of Feedback, learning about risk getting, that solid ground, and getting the confidence, those are all very important pieces to understanding the race and growing a business in general. One thing that you touched on and you mentioned the advisor side, do you believe strongly that every startup along the way from the first year you built a company to the 14th year, that you always had advisors or mentors, people in your life that you could have discussions with on a regular basis all the time, is that something that you felt really helped you through a lot of this?

Ehsan:
100 percent. I see you know, the work of the advisors and mentors as really you know, the educators. I mean they are educators and if anyone thinks that they do not need advice or you know, mental support and they are not, in my opinion, thinking straight, we all go through education. Like learning things, we build upon each other’s learning, the whole science, the whole pyramid of science is built upon you know some simple validations, or some simple I guess theories, assumptions of you know other people. And so, for anyone to be able to keep it straight, they have to rely on feedbacks. Whether it may be from your customers, your advisors, external you know simple people opinion. I mean we all are very much limited in terms of you know, the you know, in we’re all very much limited in understanding and observing things, and so relying on others, people observations, and then know-how is extremely important in my opinion.

Jeffery:
Brilliant, agreed. Like right now, we’re educating, I’m learning, it’s done for you so this is fantastic and I’m sure everybody else will also learn this. So this is why I hope everybody watches because that’s where you know learning from, so 100 percent agree with that, all right. So I guess my last kind of question around and shaping up the investment side, and then kind of how you work with in the feedback loops, and working with advisors to get I guess, enough information that helps you grow your business, is that while you were growing in your business and while you were working with advisors and investors, was there a story that really stood out that made an impact to you when you were vetting a new idea or a new revenue stream? Was there something that kind of popped out that really stuck with you and when you’re talking with a company or when you’re working with someone that it just triggers in the back of your mind and you always say, “You know what, don’t forget to do this..,” is there something like that type of advice that you’d love to share?

Ehsan:
Well, every single, I can’t say every single but majority of the conversation I’ve been having throughout my career with advisors, had something extremely meaningful and important to my business. No doubt about that. But one thing is for sure, no matter how many times you’re doing this, you’re going through this journey, you still need the external mirrors, the external advice, and feedbacks. You always think you got it right, you’re gonna get it right next time, but at the end of the day, you always come short in really observing and saying things. And so that’s the most important thing that I can say I’ve learned throughout the years and I would never ever start anything new without making sure that I have the right people, advisors, mentors around me.

Jeffery:
I like that. Right people around you, make a big difference, and good or bad, they give you the right feedback to kind of help you work your way through. So I love that, that’s some great advice. All right, okay. So we’re going to jump into the rapid fire questions.

Ehsan:
Sure.

Jeffery:
All right, let’s do it. Okay, so rapid fire. Just for context purposes, there won’t be one answer but they can be, but you fire away with great content that you feel works as an answer but here we go. Why do you invest in startup companies?

Ehsan:
Two things: purpose and financial gain.

Jeffery:
Okay, like it. What’s your favorite part of startup investing?

Ehsan:
Due diligence.

Jeffery:
I actually love the due diligence, too! I love learning more about the company. Brilliant! How many companies or dollars do you invest per year?

Ehsan:
Depends, fluctuates. On average four to five companies.

Jeffery:
Okay-

Ehsan:
And in scale of couple hundred thousand dollars.

Jeffery:
Perfect, do you follow up invest?

Ehsan:
I do follow up invest, yes.

Jeffery:
Awesome! Any notable portfolio companies that you really like that you want to share?

Ehsan:
There are so many (Laughs).

Jeffery:
Fair enough, any okay. What verticals do you focus on?

Ehsan:
Anything software, anything clout, IOT, anything smart device.

Jeffery:
Okay, any preferred terms that you like to invest on? Like preferred share, safe notes, convertible debt, anything like that?

Ehsan:
Anything that works for the interest of the company and the investor.

Jeffery:
Okay, do you have any due diligence requirements out sort of the standard things that you look for when investing in a company?

Ehsan:
Making sure the legal foundation of the company is sound.

Jeffery:
100 percent, love it. What are your timelines for investments? Couple weeks, couple months?

Ehsan:
If I do it personally, a couple of weeks. If I do it through angel networks or the archangel fund that we recently launched, obviously I have to go through the process like everybody else.

Jeffery:
Okay, do you look to lead rounds?

Ehsan:
Of course.

Jeffery:
Love it!

Ehsan:
Many times.

Jeffery:
Do you take board seats?

Ehsan:
Sometimes. I was saying 20 of the times.

Jeffery:
Okay, which other ways do you help startups outside of money?

Ehsan:
I do a lot of Mentorship, I do a lot of business development assistance, and sometimes just a simple friendly mental support.

Jeffery:
Those are perfect ways to help companies. We know that there’s a lot of help needed in those areas when it’s your first time building something, so I love that, that’s great! Okay, these questions are a little bit more a little deeper I guess if you will so, from all the previous investments that you made and we really we’re down to the wires, we only have a couple questions left, but from all the previous investments you’ve made, is there one underlying piece in these Investments that you think really will help a startup be successful and that could be anything from team or the founder, is there something that really that you look for in a startup that’s going to make a success in your portfolio?

Ehsan:
I know so many people have the same idea about this, but I would say the most and the foremost importance to me is the team. Team can create great tractions; teams can create new intellectual properties, and really get everything else sorted out.

Jeffery:
Yup, I agree! I love that. Teams, they’re the strength, they’re the support when you wake up in the morning, they’re there driving you, pushing you on all sides. So, I think it does stand out as a big winner for a company.

Ehsan:
Especially, the most important threat in founders that I’m looking into is actually honesty and hard working. I mean these are the two most important things that I’m looking in founders as, and the team, and the founding team, basically.

Jeffery:
I like it! Okay, so second last question, please share a heartfelt story of a startup you know or work with that has overcome all the odds to win. Like just something that you thought, “Wow, I can’t believe they were able to make that happen,” and you may or may not have a quest story like this but any sort of story that you feel that from the time over the last 14 years.

Ehsan:
Sure 100 percent. So, I can’t give you the name I have to ask and get the permission (Laughs).

Jeffery:
Yeah for sure!

Ehsan:
But this company came to me about four years ago, four, three brilliant founders. The idea wasn’t to me that much impressive back in the days. I started working with them, worked for them, with them, for about two years. 12 of the founders left the whole vision and the whole concept of the technology changed and one of the founders stayed, stuck with the company, try to take in the advice that I was providing, and also other people were providing and re- and that individual reinvented the whole thing, made it already is success and I’m very much hopeful that company becomes one of the major names in our ecosystem very soon. But the hard working of that specific co-founder was not only extremely impressive but also a learning process for me. If you stick to your idea, if you stick to just the whole notion of being an entrepreneur, and really embrace all the challenges, something is gonna come out sooner or Later. So..

Jeffery:
Awesome!

Ehsan:
That’s what I can tell you right now.

Jeffery:
Yeah, no that’s good! We’re gonna have to do a follow-up so that we can learn more about this company but I know. I like that you know what sometimes perseverance is an amazing skill to have, and being able to drive something forward, and pushing your vision through it, it’s amazing what the human mind can do.

Ehsan:
Yeah and so maybe add another item, another angle into this. The founder was receiving all sorts of pushbacks from many different angles. Every time we actually went back to the drawing board, every single time we actually had to review all of our assumptions, reasons of why we wanted to do this. Number one factor was the purpose of the company, we really wanted to be one of those green companies that actually you know, save on energy costs, save on energy consumption. That was the purpose that kept us going, kept him going. Second, just really making sure that all those assumptions are somehow validated by the market, not the people who are actually helping out to sell or the channel partners or the retail that wanted to adopt and whatnot. We kind of eliminated all of that from the equation, we went back onto the drawing board making sure that our assumptions are making sense. So the moment the company started to sell and through a you know, I can’t say a very creative process but that moment was, it was the enlightenment for us individually, for the company because from that moment on, the story was again starting to make sense for everybody, even those people actually were pushing back. So I guess that, that is an important fact that I wanted to also highlight about this company.

Jeffery:
Iterate-iterate and then make sure it happens, and stick behind your decisions, right? And everybody else aligned when it started to show that it was working, so that’s impressive.

Ehsan:
But to be honest, one of the interesting parts, components about this whole story is that the product did not change. The product sure it was improving, but those changes were not essential to the success that eventually came about it was only the approach, the attitude, and the perseverance, and kind of going back at it over and over again, making sure the assumptions are right, making sure the claims that you actually have as a business make sense, and then going back at it. And again, those pushbacks by the way did not come from the advisors or the mentors, those pushbacks were coming from the market.

Jeffery:
Brilliant! I love it. Well I’m certainly dying to know who this company is and all the good stuff to come out of this story, so we’re gonna have to do a follow-up.

Ehsan:
Of course.

Jeffery:
But in saying that, I want to say thank you very much Ehsan for joining us today. We learned a lot. It was very well done, thank you very much for all of your time. And I took obvious amounts of notes, so I’m a big fan. Thank you again for sharing all the information you did and what we like to do on our event or our sorry- through our podcast here is, I want to give you the last word. So, is there anything that you want to share or say to the startup world? Any advice, any tagline, anything that you want to share that you think is going to help the startup or a startup move forward? I leave the next minute or so whatever you choose to say but all up to you. So you have the last word, thank you.

Ehsan:
Thank you! So, what I’m gonna say is actually addressed to the investors, earliest stage angels, and the vc’s, and what I wanted to say is that really I’m encouraging everyone to really look at the entirety of an individual, of a person, of a founder, of an entrepreneur, rather than where they are today, and what their balance sheet says today. If you do have that attitude, if you do believe in even the simplest ideas, the person, then you can help out to make things happen. Those people who are making it, those professional, I would say more mature or those national entrepreneurs, they would make it without our help. Those people that come with world changing ideas, those people who are trying to address a problem, a real problem out there into the market, whether they are, whether it may be the case that they are the best of the type of the entrepreneurs or not, those to me have the biggest than the bigger value. And so, I would try always as an investor, as an earlier stage investor angel, I would always try to believe in the person and you know, try to kind of see through everything that they’re presenting to me and really try to and I really try to help them out. I don’t look at the balance sheets especially at the very beginning, I do not care if they do have a refined pitch day when they they’re coming to me, and I do not care about the fact that they are the most and the best presenter, you know most successful, you know type of entrepreneur, or the best presenters. I only look at what makes sense the problem, the person, the entirety of a person, and really what it can achieve what they can achieve.

Jeffery:
I like it! Done! And that’s a good word for the investors to think a little bit differently in the next investment they’re going to make. Believe in the person and see where they’re going to be in 10 years and if you think that they’re going to be where they’re pitching, you then that’s the right investment to start going after.

Ehsan:
Exactly.

Jeffery:
I love it, Ehsan! You’re a good man! I love what you’re doing, keep it up, don’t change. Well, you can change, you can grow but you know what I mean, keep doing it. You’re doing awesome but thank you very much again for your time today.

Ehsan:
I will do my best! Thank you very much Jeffrey for having me and you guys also, march on with all the interesting stuff you guys are doing to help out entrepreneurs in our ecosystem.

Jeffery:
We’ll keep at it onwards and upwards. Have a great day!

Ehsan:
You too!

Jeffery:
Thank you!

Ehsan:
Thanks!

Jeffery:
Well, that was fantastic! So, Ehsan really shared a lot of great insights from his background, computer science creating the blend into Biotech. I love some of the things that he said, “You’re gonna pitch a lot of people, refine your pitch Down, address the concerns, and iterate.” Address -iterate, brilliant and you really do need to take a long deep hard look into what you’re trying to build and keep taking input work with advisors, work with mentors, feedback, get people interested in your business, learn from all of those pieces, and that’s going to help you grow, create some value. You know, team is as you said teams most important find the rock stars, they’re going to help you build your company, they’re going to get behind you, and help you grow. And once you start to grow and get your footwork underneath you, that’s going to allow you to be more confident, and be able to take more risk. And with risk is going to be more reward and you’re an entrepreneur, so those are the things you need to do. So, right from Ehsan, “Thank you very much for that but keep working with the groups and learning. Have a fantastic day!”

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