Unicorn Hunters is a new US based investment show that brings high-performing companies before the ‘circle of money’, an investment panel featuring the likes of Steve Wozniak, Lance Bass and Rosa Gumataotao Rios. Mrs Rios shared her best advice for budding entrepreneurs hoping to become unicorns.
“Everyone has a different risk tolerance,” she began.
Each entrepreneurial dream is different, and so is each entrepreneur.
Taking into account current circumstances and what support is currently available is the key indicator in whether a person should be jumping on the start-up venture or taking it slow.
As Mrs Rios stated, this is essentially: “Understanding what you can lose and being very strategic about it.”
One vital aspect that many entrepreneurs overlook is that getting off the ground doesn’t start and end with financial resources.
Networking, management resources, executive decision-making and support are equally vital to small business success.
Mrs Rios reflected on her own career, leaving majority of her friends, loved ones and emotional support to start a new venture as US treasurer in 2009.
“So, my risk tolerance was quite high, knowing I was bringing my family along this journey.
“Making these choices that were right for me and no one else was going to make those choices for me.
“If you have a lot more at risk for yourself, maybe it’s something you can do on the side, part-time etc and again asking for help and asking for resources is a big part of that.
“It’s a huge part of the equation and that final decision,” she added.
Mrs Rios continued to say that in the current global circumstance, with the rise in both job losses and entrepreneurial dreams, it’s important to start locally.
“We’ve never ever ever been in this position before.
“A lot of cities actually have great resources for small businesses to get started, whether it’s grants or programs or small business loan.
“It’s great to start local and see what’s available for you locally.”
To successfully get funding, one must first learn how to successfully pitch their business, which is as daunting a task as they come.
“It’s overwhelming to think what one has to do to make your sixty second pitch, to even come up with the idea and all the other intricacies that are involved in starting your own companies.”
When pitching to potential investors and shareholders, knowing the answer to all of their questions may seem impossible, but starting with a few key aspects will set you in good steed to answer as many as possible.
The most common questions include issues as licencing, patents and legal ramifications and if none of these have been considered then a large information gap becomes quite apparent.
Additionally, brilliant products and companies can go nowhere fast with little marketing or audience demographic knowledge.
One of the more obvious aspects is being able to say exactly what an investors’ money will go towards.
“You want to know how they’re going to prioritise,” Mrs Rios said.
“It’s like a game of chess, it’s not just what’s your next move, it’s what’s your next three or four moves after that, what’s your exit strategy.”
Mrs Rios suggested, as practice and experience for budding entrepreneurs, watching shows like Unicorn Hunters and participating as if you were pitching to the circle of money.
This jumpstarts the business planning process, and can showcase exactly which questions may trip you up in a real investor-pitching situation.
Mrs Rios spoke of the entrepreneurs on the show: “It’s fascinating to see where the heart and mind meet.
“If you can do good and do well at the same then that’s wonderful, that’s the whole spirit of the show.”