Finding the Perfect Investor - Jim Foran, PVStop
Jim Foran was a GM at a large multinational corporation but found himself yearning to do something more impactful and pivoted to entrepreneurship.
A chance conversation led to a drink with one of the pioneers of solar in Australia, who had just come up with a revolutionary idea, a new technology to stop panels arcing and catching fire.
Once the two got to talking, they partnered up and started PVStop. With their technology they were doing something good for the world - changing the landscape of renewable energy safety and making the lives of first responders a little less risky.
As the first in the world to come up with this technology and even consider solar safety a real issue, the PVStop team had to do a lot of the leg-work laying the groundwork and carving out the path to commercialisation. Now, over the last few months after graduating from the EnergyNext 2022 program, Jim and the team have been raising capital.
So what have they learnt about raising capital?
Like many other first time entrepreneurs, Jim had to learn the investment ecosystem from the ground up.
As Jim reflects: “You’ll get a lot of different people giving you different opinions, so you have to do your due diligence when it comes to investors, and the investment process”
He also highlighted how useful the EnergyNext program proved to be as he prepared for his latest capital raise.
Getting into the nitty gritty, Jim highlights the importance of finding the right investors.
“There are a lot of investors around all using “buzzwords” to excite and engage various startups, but you have to be careful if they’re being fully honest with you. Plus there are some investors that are super willing to support early stage businesses, but when push comes to shove, they want to see profit or a clear pathway to profit with detailed KPIs”.
“As an early stage startup it’s not easy to justify and validate the pathway so you need to find investors that are more interested in the journey and buy into your vision rather than just wanting to make money”.
According to Jim, that perfect investor (if that even exists) has 3 key characteristics:
- (to state the obvious) they have money to invest.
- They can bring skillsets or networks to the table to support the founder on the journey
- They understand and are willing to be part of bringing your vision to life
“Next steps after you’ve found the right investors are communicating effectively with them to ensure you’re maintaining a solid relationship. As they say, communication is key!
So being honest. Even when you’re getting rejections and it’s tempting to embellish, be honest and conservative with your financials and try your best to outline the potential threats as well as the opportunities. When things go sideways, it’s a lot easier to navigate because (hopefully) no one is surprised”.
Jim concludes: “if an investor doesn’t want to hear [the negatives], they’re not the right investor”
Are you a cleantech startup looking to learn more about the capital journey? Reach out to Stuart (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through LinkedIn to have a quick chat! As entrepreneurs who’ve also travelled the journey, we’re always looking to help out startups where we can.
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