Our guest entrepreneur speaker in Michaelmas 2013 was venture investor Kelsey Lynn from Imperial Innovations. Originally an Engineer from Stanford with passion for working with people and building things, she has pursued a successful career as a venture capital investor, firstly at Firelake Capital in Silicon Valley, and more recently at Imperial Innovations in London. In California, Kelsey focussed on funding early-stage startups in material science and clean energy technologies, including EOS Climate (carbon emission mitigation) and EnerG2 (automotive energy storage). Since moving to London in 2012 and joining Imperial Innovations, Kelsey has led investments in Econic Technologies (Imperial spin-out in chemical catalysts) and Aqdot (Cambridge spin-out in polymer microencapsulation).
Here are her 5 top lessons for entrepreneurs:
1. Create a product that customers ACTUALLY want (not should want)
2. How and who you engage with at a corporation matters (understand their incentives and motivations and who makes what decisions)
3. Think about your financing strategy from the beginning – this is critical and often underestimated, resulting in teams that spend all their time fundraising. An experienced launch chairman / angel / lead investor can help with this.
4. Business is about people – listen and understand their interests and motivations. Business is about creating situations / opportunities / deals in which people want to work with you. You can present yourself and your business differently, emphasizing different aspects, depending on the audience.
5. The power of mindset: Life is one big experiment, and if you view each experience as a mini-experiment, there is so much to learn! Negative and disheartening moments become valuable lessons (the more you fail, the more you learn!) and there’s a reason to try a variety of different approaches to learn, recalibrate and excel.