Stayko is currently the co-founder of Silicon Valley/Nashville - based Venture Grove, matching startups to exit and corporate opportunities and a Managing Partner of Fivestone Corporate Ventures. He has also served as the Managing Partner of Crestlight, a corporate venture investment firm. He leads a global advisory firm addressing complex issues related to Technology Commercialization, IP Strategy and Transactional Negotiations. Raised over $75 million.
Evaluating and Pitching Your Business with Stayko Stakov
When it comes to evaluating and pitching your business, there are a few things that the entrepreneur should know going in. Stayko speaks about a few key points from his experience.
"Tailor to each investor. They're different. They're just different people."
"Ask for advice, get money. Ask for money, get advice. It's very true." You're asking for advice so that you can build a relationship with that person.
For whatever reason, many entrepreneurs think that 18 months is the "magic number" where they will reach a financial break-even point. That just simply is not the case. Follow Stayko's advice, and "Don't get stuck on 18 months."
Lastly, make sure you're paying yourself. Investors are constantly pitched ideas where the founders do not pay themselves, claiming they put all of the money back into the business. This is not what the investor wants to hear. If you have a worthwhile idea, make sure you compensate yourself accordingly. Stayko states, "If you think you need more money, let's do that so we can be serious about this business."
Asking Better Questions (with an example)
The vast majority of mentoring/advising is asking questions. It is important to ask questions that guide your advisee to the answer, instead of just giving them the answer outright. In this video, Stayko lays out how to ask better questions.
“I do think that entrepreneurship is a continued exercise of asking questions. If you think you have the answer, you become stagnant; you don’t evolve.” Though we’ve been brought up in the Western school of thought that answers should be rewarded, Stayko says that questions are the driving force to growth and expansion. In fact, Stayko says the vast majority of mentoring and advising is simply asking questions.
Communicating value quickly and effectively is essential in your entrepreneurial journey. There are two types of people that you have to persuade of your product or service’s value: people who will give you money as an investment, and more commonly people who will buy your product or service. Because these are different types of people, they require different value. Although these might be different types of value, they operate under the same principle. That principle, according to Stayko, is that "everybody in the world is measured on something". Find out what they are measured (or judged) on, and show how your new business can add value to them.
How Advisors Use Questions In Mentoring
Is entrepreneurship more about the question or the answer? According to Stayko, "entrepreneurship is a continuous exercise of asking questions". Excellent entrepreneurs constantly test their answers by asking more questions. That's how a business evolves. As Stayko goes on to point out, this can be counterintuitive, as we are brought up in a society that rewards answers, not questions. Instead of looking for answers, we should be looking for the next question, and continue to innovate by asking better questions.