We were incredibly privileged to have Rick Baker as the guest coach in Week Six of our E3 program for early stage female-led start-ups.
Rick is co-founder of Blackbird Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in the most ambitious start-ups in Australia. Passionate about Aussie start-ups, before forming Blackbird, Rick held MLC’s venture capital portfolio with investments of over half a billion dollars and co-founded two tech companies, IDC Global and Right Party Connect.
We invited Rick to coach our cohort on building the right team, at the right time, with the right culture to support their businesses.
After listening to a pitch about their team from each of our E3 entrepreneurs, Rick provided feedback and shared his own case studies featuring real businesses funded by Blackbird Ventures.
His insights were profound and helped our founders better understand how their team impacts their business and their pitch to investors.
Here’s a few takeaways I took from the evening...
Rick shared what he and Blackbird looked for in the founding team…
While they had no formula for the perfect founding team, they do look for ‘product obsessed founders’ who have a passion for the problem the business is solving and an authentic and genuine connection to the business.
Rick and Blackbird embraced “learn it alls” (rather than ‘know it alls’) and founders who aren’t phased by anything. They love seeing founders who have overcome steep learning curves and continue to “just figure stuff out” to move forward.
Founders who lead the charge to finance the business and understand the financials… Rick says never hire anyone to raise for you!
What they do and don’t fund...
Blackbird do invest in single founders (where other VC’s require co-founders).
And while some VCs require a technical co-founder, that’s not a ‘non-starter’ for Blackbird if you have strong technical understanding in the team and proof that founders work well with tech teams.
But it is a Blackbird rule that dev teams must be internal.
And they are strictly not interested in quick flips or early exits… they only fund founders who want to build really strong businesses over the long term.
And finally, Rick’s top tips for talking about your team in an investor pitch:
He recommends weaving in messages about team credentials throughout the pitch when you talk about things like the business problem and solution. If you do that well, you may not need a “team” slide.
Have your key team members lined up and ready to come on board as soon as investment comes in.
And as a very broad guideline when you are seeking funding, $1M seed funding should fund 5 - 10 people for 18 months, and $3 – 5M for series A funding should cover about 20 people for 18 months.
You can hear more from Rick in the Aussie start-up doco, The New Hustle. The New Hustle is a feature-length documentary that follows the personal journey of three of Australia's most successful startups. I attended the Sydney screening last month and loved it… if you are an entrepreneur or want to be, the film is a must see (you can rent or buy it in iTunes).
Until next week!