Frank Bonsal, right, with Wasabi Ventures’ Ray Thek.
Frank Bonsal III, longtime partner with Bonsal Capital and a general partner with New Markets Venture Partners in Howard County, said at Startup Grind that “venture guys are solving problems,” and, in turn, are “looking for entrepreneurs that are solving real problems.”
Although sparsely attended compared to September’s inaugural event, Tuesday night’s Startup Grind at Loyola University Maryland was a chance for startup owners to hear from an experienced venture capitalist. The firms for which Bonsal works have invested in a number of successful local companies, including Moodlerooms (which merged with Blackboard in April 2012) and StraighterLine, both of which are based in Baltimore city.
Some of what Bonsal shared was obvious enough: entrepreneurs should not take outside capital if “you’re just looking for a salary.” Nonetheless, it’s Real Talk worth noting.
10 points to remember from Frank Bonsal:
- “Never take outside capital unless you’re sure that dollar gives you a multiplier effect.”
- Baltimore doesn’t “need a big hype engine. Baltimore needs wins.”
- Enterprise companies will forever be sexy. Bonsal said he likes investing in companies “with $250,000 [to] $500,000 in recurring revenue, a proven customer base and a [business-to-business] solution.”
- “We like entrepreneurs to invest in their businesses … with their own capital.”
- If entrepreneurs are solving problems worth solving, and it’s scalable, “they deserve investment.”
- More experienced teams with maybe a duller idea are worth investing in, as they “typically spend less and get more out of [their business].”
- In education technology, Bonsal said he like companies that are “solving real problems, maybe not turning something on its head.”
- Equally important in EdTech, he said, is to not invest in “things that supplant teachers.”
- “The best companies just find a way to win.”
- Did we mention that Bonsal wants companies to win? “Get the scoreboard to light up,” he said.
As late Oakland Raiders’ owner Al Davis would say, “Just win, baby.”
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