Every year around April, after the Seedstars Summit, our teams head out into the world. Our job? To scout for the best entrepreneurs and high growth tech companies in emerging markets.
In 2016, we have screened roughly 3000 applications for the Seedstars World competition, mentored over 750 entrepreneurs and seen them pitch at our local competitions where only 1 was named the best entrepreneur with the chance to represent their country at our regional and global Seedstars Summit.
So, when the moment comes that we are having ‘heated’ discussions in the jury deliberation room, here are some of the questions that are raised:
1. What problem are you trying to solve?
We notice that many entrepreneurs struggle with defining their problem properly. No matter how good the rest of your pitch is – and how amazing your product might seem – if you don’t define the problem well enough, it makes it hard for us to understand/judge if you are actually solving a real pain-point for a customer. Defining the problem is intended to make us understand why your solution is worth taking a look at.
2. How do you plan on making $?
We love that you believe your solution is awesome! We think so as well. After all, that is why we are talking to you. However, at some point we would need our money back and you need your business to be sustainable. So, how will you make sure that I get a return on my investment so I can re-invest that in other cool startups?
3. How far did you go without us?
It's great that you're looking for investment! However, the investment is intended to accelerate the efforts you have made up until now. So what are your traction numbers? E.g. How many customers did you manage to acquire (digital)? How developed is your prototype (hardware)?
4. How big is the market and what makes you different?
How well do you understand your market? How big is your market? And if there is a big market for your business, it is quite likely that there are already other players (traditional or new ones) who are trying to solve the same problem. So… what makes you any different? One way to look at it would be to analyse if you tick any of the following boxes:
- Superiority: What makes you better than your competitors?
- Defensibility: What makes you different when compared to your competitors?
- Unfair advantage: Do you have/do something that would be very hard for your competitors to replicate?
5. Can your business be adapted to another context/location?
This could both mean how scalable you are within your country and outside of your country. Some solutions we come across seem to work perfectly in one location. However, how easy would it be to replicate a business’ current economics in another environment?. A couple of considerations there would be capital efficiency, complexity in logistics and distribution channels, amongst others.
6. Do you have the right team to make all of this happen?
Who are the people behind your amazing idea, and what qualifies them to execute it and make it a success?
Finding the best entrepreneur in a country is not a zero-sum game. And some factors might weigh higher than others depending on the type of business that you have. However, you can never be too prepared!