The Revolution of AI in Businesses

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Over the years, as I navigated through various business domains, I encountered operational challenges and efficiency bottlenecks. From tech start-ups and fintech to real estate and green energy, my entrepreneurial journey has been marked by innovation. The rapid advancements in AI over the past decade have made it an indispensable tool for modern businesses. As an early adopter, I’ve consistently been attracted to the promise of emerging technologies, especially AI, and its transformative potential in challenging traditional paradigms. At its core, the AI business model works as a catalyst for growth, aiding in refining your business model and enhancing decision-making on both internal and external strategic fronts. However, understanding ‘what’ and ‘how’ AI can offer opportunities is crucial.

How I Began Implementing AI In My Businesses

Understanding the advantages of AI is one thing; implementing it is another. Here are the steps to consider:
  • Defining your Vision
Start by clearly defining the objectives you aim to achieve with AI. Before diving into it, pinpoint your goals. Whether it's automation, product enhancement, or improved decision-making processes, knowing your objectives will guide your search for the right AI solutions.
  • Spot the Use Cases
Once your goals are clear, delve into specific applications that resonate with your startup’s ethos. For instance, if you’re considering several AI marketing tools, ensure they align with your marketing strategy.
  • Do Your Homework
Before investing, research to find the ideal AI tool for your initiative. Understand the technology, its potential risks, and limitations. Factor in your budget and your team’s tech proficiency.
  • Employee Training
As you integrate, ensure your team is equipped to maximize its potential. The journey of AI success is a learning curve, driven by your team’s adaptability.
  • Start Small, Aim Big:
When introducing new tech, it's best to start with manageable projects and gradually scale up. Start with a simple project that you can complete quickly, test rigorously, and then progressively tackle more complex projects. Always be prepared to adapt to unexpected outcomes.
  • Gradual Implementation
After achieving some early successes, resist the urge to implement AI across the entire business immediately. As above, start small, test, iterate then build out. You need to give your team time to get used to using AI and integrating it into their workflows and also in the culture and always monitor customer feedback.
  • Continuous Assessment
AI solutions should never be left on autopilot. Regularly evaluate the value and cost-effectiveness of the AI tools in use. If a tool is not delivering, adjust until you strike the right balance.  

How AI Revolutionized My Businesses

Automated Customer Interactions

The first noticeable change was in customer interactions. By implementing AI-driven chatbots, my businesses were able to offer 24/7 assistance, significantly reducing overhead costs and drastically improving customer satisfaction rates. Within months, I witnessed higher engagement and increased loyalty—testament to the power of personalized and instantaneous support.

Data Driven Decisions

Another revolutionary change was in data analytics. My startups were able to process vast amounts of data, extracting actionable insights in real-time. This deep understanding of customer behavior enabled us to refine our offerings, predict market trends, and proactively tackle potential challenges.

Enhancing Operations & Productivity

My teams once spent considerable time on routine tasks. AI introduced efficiencies, reducing these timelines by an impressive 50%. From automating document verification to predicting market fluctuations, AI's integration translated to faster decision-making, reduced errors, and an overall increase in operational efficiency. This freed up time was redirected towards innovation.

AI in Marketing & Sales

From predictive analytics to sentiment analysis, AI in marketing aids in market research, facilitates content creation, and automates campaigns. Furthermore, AI-driven sales processes, like chatbots, handle traffic and convert sales efficiently.

Talent Acquisition

Hiring is often a challenge for startups. AI can streamline the process by screening CVs, automating interview schedules, and ensuring a smooth hiring process, ultimately securing top talent.  


  Reflecting on AI's role in my businesses, I see its value not just in advanced tech but in tangible, measurable outcomes. The hours saved, the dollars not spent, the resources freed up represent tangible benefits, not just abstract concepts. These gains have empowered me to focus on growth, innovation, and pioneering change. AI, for me, isn't an option; it's a necessity. It's the edge that every entrepreneur, including myself, needs in this ever-evolving business landscape. As technology continues to advance, I believe the potential of AI will only grow, further revolutionizing the business landscape.  
The dramatic transformation of the World Wide Web triggered web3.0 in 2021, powered by blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. It completely reshaped businesses and operating models, forcing traditional banking systems and financial service companies to step into uncharted territory. Here's my take on the challenges and opportunities of the fintech industry in the web3.0 era.

web3.0 - a game-changer for fintech companies

  After Bitcoin was launched in 2009, the financial technology scene started to grow quickly. In the years that followed, we saw the rise of many new fintech companies and the development of innovative technologies that traditional financial institutions are now using. However, the landscape is changing again with the development of web3.0. Businesses can already feel the impact of decentralized finance (DeFi), which is based on blockchain technology. We are about to witness a new wave of fintech innovation that will make the industry more efficient and accessible, bringing forth a new internet infrastructure that will change the rules of the game. Startup_Article3_02_Licence

How does the fintech world benefit?

  The third generation of internet services is disrupting the way people, businesses, and regulatory organizations are collaborating and planning to work together. With the integration of DeFi at the heart of new technology, we have a completely new financial system outside of the central authorities’ control. The DeFi system's protocols and platforms that provide financial services are decentralized and cannot be shut down by any bank. DeFi is also more efficient than the traditional financial system. People can send money directly to someone without going through a mediator. All the transactions are recorded on the blockchain and are visible to everyone with an Internet connection, making it more transparent and accessible. Due to the advantages of the DeFi systems, the benefits of web3.0 can be quite impressive. For example, web3.0 makes the onboarding process more user-friendly. Every single evolution of the web will ensure even more trustworthiness for businesses by eliminating security issues of storing any data. With web3.0's list of contributing technologies, fintech companies can automate processes to perform customer journey mapping and allocate resources more efficiently to meet client demands, facilitate better engagement, and encourage enduring loyalty. Artificial intelligence, IoT (Internet of things), and blockchain technology - the three crucial foundations of web3.0 - ensure real-time, secure, and transparent transactions for FinTech companies worldwide. web3.0 reduces account suspensions and denial of distributed services, helping financial technology businesses lower the cost of managing server failures or other similar issues.

What about the challenges for the fintech industry in the new digital era?

  Without challenges, there would be no opportunity to evolve. The new technologies have many benefits, but they also pose some challenges. • Firstly, DeFi is still in the early stages of development. This means that some bugs and glitches need to be fixed. • Secondly, blockchain technology is constantly evolving. This means the protocols and platforms that provide financial services can change quickly, taking businesses and entrepreneurs by surprise. • Thirdly, Defi is a global system, so the rules and regulations that apply to the traditional financial system do not necessarily apply to the DeFi system. For example, in the conventional financial system, there are KYC (know your customer) and AML (anti-money laundering) regulations that banks must follow. However, in the DeFi system, these regulations do not necessarily apply.

What does the future of fintech hold under web3.0?

  With the arrival of decentralized finance (DeFi), we see a new wave of financial applications and services built on the Ethereum blockchain, leading to many fresh possibilities for interacting with and using financial services. Under web3.0, we see the shift changing from traditional financial infrastructure, centralized and controlled by a few institutions, towards a more decentralized and open system. This will provide more opportunities for innovation and ultimately pave the way for a more inclusive and democratic financial system to emerge. We are only just scratching what is possible now with these technologies. In the future, I believe they will become the primary way that people interact with financial services. Traditional infrastructure will become increasingly obsolete, and we will see a change towards a more open, inclusive, and democratic financial system.

What is's position on early web3.0 technology adoption?

  Democratization is a significant component in trading nowadays, and I know that investors are frequently looking for new prospects. The 2022 economic outlook allows more people to start investing in assets that were not considered feasible just a few years ago. As one of the leading global fintech companies, it's only natural for us to look into the future to offer new types of services related to DeFi. You can follow me on Twitter  and  LinkedIn!
The scaling up stage can be a decisive moment for your startup. Premature scaling can even lead to the collapse of your business, while scaling your company too late can result in missing key opportunities during your startup’s development. In the following lines, I will talk in detail about the scaling stage of a business, starting with the differences between the growth process of a company and the scaling process.

Growth vs Scaleup – how do you separate the two?

  There is a big difference between growing and scaling a company. "Growing" simply means getting bigger, while "scaling" means growing proportionally according to a well-established barometer. More customers, more employees and an increasing number of bigger & spacious offices are all signs of a booming business. But what real, quantifiable benefits do these things bring if you fail to meet your main goals? Many SMEs face a similar problem - they end up hiring more people, increasing their day-to-day costs, but they make the same profit or even less than when they started. When you have a scaling business, even if you grow your customer base and revenue exponentially, the costs should also increase the same way. Therefore, the scaleup does not face constant, linear growth in all directions.

The first steps towards scaling - establishing, testing, and implementing the business model

A company is still in the startup stage until its business model is proven, works and can be applied successfully. From that moment on, the company enters the scaleup phase. While the startup is still exploring its potential and discovering how to present its product or service best, the scaleup already has the answers to the above questions. Moreover, the product-market matching was perfected through scaleups. And when it comes to financing, scaleups can usually offer more validation than an MVP to potential investors. This means that you can have a startup with a seemingly scalable business model but never have a scaleup due to a lack of customer growth. At the same time, you can have a startup with a revenue increase of over 20% year-over-year, but if you still do not have the infrastructure set up or a product or service with enough traction, then the business cannot ascend to the next level.

The next step - creating a sense of purpose, urgency, and leadership

Developing the scaling process To grow your business and move to the next phase of evolution, you must first establish the best methods to achieve your goals. Make sure you have a clear sense of direction and that the whole team is centred around common goals. The focus and alignment with specific standards and goals are vital for a successful scaleup. You can't have a sense of purpose without a certain amount of pressure and a sense of urgency. To get there, set clear deadlines for everything you do right from the beginning. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is not paying enough attention to the time factor. Keep in mind that you are in a marathon, but even a marathon can include several sprints. After you manage to give a sense of purpose to your employees, you can work on perfecting the day-to-day operations through measurable and systematic processes that you can constantly replicate. You need to fully understand the things that contribute most to your impact as a leader on employees and keep doing them better and better. Having enough self-confidence will always bring out the best of you, helping you achieve more and more while being a role model for your team members at the same time.

The importance of organizational culture in the scaling stage

The importance of a powerful company culture Your company's culture and organizational values ​​must embrace the spirit of personal development and transparency. Align the individual successes of the team members with the business objectives, and things will progress in the desired direction. Success cannot be achieved without patience, resistance to stress, emotional intelligence and healthy habits reinforced daily throughout the organization. For a new employee to understand the company's mission, vision, cultural values, ​​and processes to move to the next level of performance, he often needs to get access to intensive and well-developed courses and training. Your startup must have a strong marketing team, separate from the sales department. This way, the business can remain focused on attracting the right customers (and the most profitable ones). Marketing is also necessary to generate enough interest and traction. To remain competitive, scaleups must promote goods and services that can improve quality-wise, not just financially. You need to be smart in how you handle your business and create an environment where people enjoy working, implementing the latest technologies that can give you a competitive edge.

Outsourcing and automation - about their essential roles in the scaling phase of your business

Identify your core Standardized and repeatable processes save time and resources, which are crucial for such an important process as scaling the business. Look for the best solutions to implement them by the book! Initially, it may require additional investment in systems (IT) and training, but these costs will be amortized in the long term. You will soon be able to hire faster, sell more and streamline operations for a truly scalable business model. If every aspect of your startup requires an ever-increasing workforce, it will be difficult for you to complete an efficient scaleup. You must find ways to get the most from every process or from as many processes as possible. This includes automating the wage payments, creating training programs to get employees ready fast, finding ways to automate the marketing process of your business and so on so forth. Where you can't automate, you can always outsource. Most of your resources should be allocated so that your core products and services can be scaled as efficiently as possible, and the business can move as smoothly as possible to the next stage of growth. Only the essential positions in the company should remain outsourced. Where possible, everything from design and copywriting to the legal part can be delegated to external contractors.

The challenges of the scaling process - what to avoid

Startups tend to make several common mistakes during their scaling process. These mistakes can lead to unnecessary obstacles, stagnant growth, chaos and maybe even the failure of the whole business. Fortunately, many can be avoided with proper preparation, planning, mentoring, and strategic thinking. Here are 3 of the main challenges companies need to overcome: Improper planning or lack of planning altogether Scaling requires strategic planning, but the experience, know-how and resources needed to make it possible are often missing. Planning is frequently done ad-hoc and is limited to far too general goals, which is probably why your company fails to achieve their targets. Without systematic training and efficient and well-thought-out prioritization, scaling will be chaotic. Imitation of other companies/businesses If, for some companies, a particular model proves to be successful, this does not mean that it can be applied everywhere and to every business. The better you know your primary product and/or service and your customers and marketing channels, the clearer it will be in which direction to go. The art of taking a step back at the right time While many startup founders could grow their businesses and get them where they want to be, not everyone can handle the numerous challenges in the process. Knowing how to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and how to ask for help, coaching, and timely support shows strength of character. Although giving up is never easy, it can still open the door to the next fantastic opportunity and keep your business afloat, even if it means taking a small step back for a short time.

Closing Words – what you need to remember

rocket man To make your business scalable, you need to put all pieces together. Here are some things to keep in mind before moving forward from startup to scaleup. • Automate and outsource as much as possible, especially if it is not directly related to your core qualifications. • Be thoughtful. Don't spend money on new people or jobs until you're absolutely ready to do it. • Make sure your business is really scalable. There is nothing wrong or shameful about keeping a company to a certain size as long as it is profitable. You can follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn! 
The previous article explained how to design a Minimum Viable Product, giving you a personal example with the trading platform. Now I'll go one step further and talk about ways you can get traction for your startup.

What is initial traction?

  Launching a business involves risks, but if you make sure it gets traction fast, the results might come in a relatively short time. Initial traction refers to the first wave of users for your product or service, and it can make the difference between a startup success or failure. If your project gets traction from the start, people are interested in what you are offering. Although they may not know much about your business, they still give you some of their valuable time because you may have a solution to their problems. These customers will most likely be the first ambassadors of your business, urging their friends and acquaintances to try out your product. people-planning There is no immediate solution for success, but if you choose a hot market in a high-demand industry, you could increase your chances of success. It is also essential to set your goals (long, medium and especially short term). The short-term ones will indicate the actual steps you need to take in the first days or weeks. The good news is that you don't need a lot of money for your startup to gain traction, but you do need that traction to start making money.

Key elements that can trigger traction for your startup

outline Here are some of the factors that can help you form your first solid customer base: • The product you offer solves a problem that a particular group has. I've already explained in a previous article that startups are built around a user or customer need. For example, Uber saves you time using its ride-sharing services, and Airbnb finds you affordable accommodation. • The product is fantastic, and you have a "story" that catches on. The way you manage to get your messages across and reach your target audience helps build and strengthen your brand. Branding is the experience you offer users through tone of voice, design, social media presence, etc. The best way to start gaining traction is to have a product that breaks the patterns. You're already halfway to success if you have a product so good that it practically sells itself. Just look at Elon Musk's Tesla. The American giant didn't spend much on advertising campaigns when it entered the market. Instead, word-of-mouth marketing techniques were selling. Without some truly unique products, Tesla would not be where it is today. • High-quality user experience. Your product is easy to use, intuitive and leaves a great first impression. All the elements of the branding process I mentioned above contribute to the user experience. • High-quality customer service. People prefer to fend for themselves until they need help. Customer service is often overlooked while building new features. Improve the communication with your customers and make them want more.  

How to generate traction by building your own startup community

  A community to interact with and increase the visibility of your business can help you throughout your company's lifecycle. It can also create traction if you give it the time it needs to grow. Who and what can you include in this community? Here are some suggestions: 1. Influencers microphone Influencers, such as bloggers or vloggers, can bring clients by posting your website link on their social media channels; they can also secure a fair number of people attending your brand awareness events or guarantee you a vote of confidence through favourable reviews or testimonials of your product. You have many options at your disposal to attract them, such as cold emails, social media, or simply making them offers they can't refuse. 2. Crowdfunding – convince the public to sponsor a good idea The advent of crowdfunding has been a significant change in how business people bring their products to the spotlight. Platforms like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter allow users to discover new businesses and invest in bringing them into the spotlight. These are excellent opportunities to get traction, as people who choose to invest in a product must use it first, so they can become early adopters. 3. Networking/Partnerships Many startups have been able to gain initial traction by collaborating with other brands that have already built a reputation in the market. There are four main types of partnerships: Integrative. This type of partnership occurs when your concept moulds to the profile of another business, so it can enhance the features and benefits of both products. API. If you've built your own platform, you can encourage other companies to expand on your platform. Uber has done this with TripAdvisor, Starbucks, OpenTable, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, and Expensify. Syndication. In this case, companies team up and combine their products or expose each other to their audience. Kayak did this with AOL in 2004. More recently, cloud-based security provider SilverSky became an Office 365 partner. Recommendation/Referral. This can be an affiliate, a reseller, or an organization that uses your product. Dropbox has one of the most popular referral programs.  

Pre-launch marketing campaigns and their essential role for startups

coming soon Creating a product is a complex process that requires time, money and other resources. Such an effort for nothing would mean throwing away all the sacrifices you've made. However, many businesses launch in areas that are little explored and analyzed, resulting in significant failures. A pre-launch campaign gives you at least three valuable opportunities: • Get your dream in front of everyone. • Test your target audience's level of interest in your product. • Get valuable feedback that you can integrate into your strategy.  

How to boost a pre-launch campaign and get your startup traction

  From my 10+ years of expertise as an entrepreneur, I've come to the conclusion that the following steps are fundamental: Create a pre-launch landing page A landing page is your product's window to potential customers, which can help you convey the right message to the right audience. Run a pre-launch campaign to get more leads In the pre-launch stage, all you need is to get as many customer emails as possible for lead generation. Make people love you - turn your first visitors into ambassadors for your startup! When someone lands on your website, they might join a waiting list or sign up for a giveaway where they can get early access to the products you offer if they refer their friends. Increase your traffic with ads This is the most scalable and easiest way to test different campaigns and get quick results. Campaigns should be run on paid channels as they are highly customizable, you can target a specific audience and then quantify the results. Use banners for every significant referral page Customize your landing pages with banners for users coming from as many referral pages as possible*. *A referral page is a landing page that directs visitors to make a conversion by offering them a reward or incentive.  


cheering Regardless of how innovative your product is, you won't get customers if you fail to make it visible to your target audience and attract the first wave of users, especially if you have a limited budget and resources. The good news is that most startups and entrepreneurs have been in the same situation you're in now. Even better, they managed to overcome this challenge by moving to the next stage with techniques and methods proven to get the initial traction required by the 2021 business world. You can follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn!
In a previous article from this series, I gave you a few suggestions on finding a viable startup idea. If you are an energetic entrepreneur, your primary goal would be to materialize your vision and test it. This is why the MVP philosophy – Minimum Viable Product – is so important. Startup_Abordare MPV The acronym is quite appealing as it unveils the topic from the start. MVP or Minimum Viable Product is the minimum product (with the shortest list of features) with real chances of finding customers or end-users.  

How to project an MVP

Startup_Cum se proiecteaza un MVP The various research papers I've studied agree on the following steps: · Identify the problem and start with the idea. I've already explained in a past article how startups are built around a problem that requires a solution or a customer's specific need. Isolate the core elements of that need and resist the urge to add additional features. Their time will come later in this process. · Have a clear image of the target market. How many users we're talking about? Where are they located, geographically speaking? What's their purchasing power, and how much can they afford to spend on a specific product? · What business goals did you set up for your MVP? Conquering the world would be lovely, so would a unicorn (startup over $1 billion), but such ambitions are premature, and you need to stay focused on the objectives within your reach. The MVP must be well-positioned in your business plan, primarily in your financial projections. You could either launch a product as an income-producer or get valuable feedback from end-users.

The purpose of an MVP

  The last meaning is the most interesting and, strangely, more profitable in the medium term. It is based on the definition that author and entrepreneur Eric Ries offers: the product that allows a team to gain a maximum level of knowledge about users with a minimum of effort. Startup_Rolul MVP This type of approach seems better suited for well-financed startups, but it's not. It is part of the lean startup philosophy and aims to quickly and inexpensively burn through the steps on the way to profit. Eric Ries says that a richer, multi-functional product can cost more time and money than investing in an MVP with lower revenue potential but is extremely useful in technical and market tests. Compared to an MVP, a more elaborate product cannot be tested in natural conditions and does not allow quick adjustment, which increases its chances of failure.

Minimum Viable Product examples

  The MVP philosophy was the basis of today's global giants. Startup_Exemple de MVPAmazon started as a physical book delivery service. In the beginning, it was a website where you ordered books; Amazon purchased them from distributors and delivered them to you by post-mail. This entire process was the predecessor of e-books, Kindle devices, and virtual stores. • Airbnb started with the founders making their homes available to potential tourists. Because this endeavour was successful, the platform currently offers almost any services related to tourism and travel. • Facebook initially linked Harvard students to a social network without much functionality. Later on, brand pages and ads appeared, the company acquired Whatsapp and Instagram, launched the Marketplace and everything else that Facebook offers nowadays. • Dropbox had a far more exciting strategy: it started with a video presentation. The founders explained the functionality of a product that allowed storing documents in the cloud and could be accessed precisely like a local folder on your computer. The founders initiated the creative process only when the positive reactions of those interested validated their idea.

How I applied the MVP philosophy

  My startup idea didn't come about suddenly but took shape over 13 years of industry experience. From a simple agent in a multinational company operating in the capital market to becoming a shareholder, investor, and then CEO, my entrepreneurial story has provided me with the concepts, ideas, and know-how to materialize a daring ambition called Key Way Group. The product itself, the targeted market segment and the business objectives were clear to me from the beginning. Everything tends to unravel faster when you have a track record of taking companies from the ground up, bringing them to the peak of their development and culminating in a successful exit. The hype for online trading and financial markets that started in the US and gradually extended to Europe convinced me to launch a product with an organic component that would naturally grow alongside technological innovation happening by the minute. My MVP product is a trading platform offering free, fast and broad access to the CFD market, 0 commissions and best execution policies. From this point on, my automation efforts spread throughout the ecosystem. Microsoft solutions now cover internal communication, project management and reporting needs, offering employees the necessary time to focus on creation and development rather than wasting their time with robotic tasks.

Why you should consider the MVP approach

  It's true; you might think that all successful businesses started with a single product with a few features, which later grew and diversified. On the other hand, the MVP philosophy allows you to systematize this sort of growth by keeping in check your desire to achieve perfection in the development of your product at a time when the need for feedback is essential. Last but not least, a Minimum Viable Product is versatile and isn't confined in a particular market as tried and tested products do. This would take the brunt of failure over the entire startup activity and would push it towards demise sooner rather than later. You can follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn!
Some call it "seed funding", others "seed capital", but the most common term is "seed money". Down below I will explain how and where you can find seed money. Essentially, it is a simple concept: seed money refers to the initial capital you need to get a business up and running until it starts producing results. In other words, the money you use as an initial investment will generate more money in return. That's what any type of business at the start of the road aims or it’s already doing. However, in the strict sense of the term, a startup is not just any type of business in its infancy. Let's say you want to set up a family farm with a few dozen or hundreds of sheep and produce organic dairy products of exceptional quality and local specificity. You will, of course, need seed money. Then, in a few years, this can develop into a small business that will probably generate a turnover of hundreds of thousands of euros per year and will keep its size for a long time, ensuring the prosperity of a family. come-in-open Maybe, at some point, a global dairy company will consider buying the farm and its brands. However, the family will oppose it because they know an inclusion in a dairy conglomerate will diminish their award-winning traditional elements. They have no financial ambitions that go beyond the worry-free life they already enjoy. It is a good thing such businesses exist and, even better, that forums like the European Union encourage local production, but startups are another breed.

Ambitions and the logic of startups

startup-ambitions A startup is primarily defined by its technological component, now almost mandatory to be digital, generating innovation in various fields. Innovation involves creating markets or market segments, new products and services, plus disruptive business behaviour. Getting back to the example with the family farm, they could start an exciting collaboration with a company focused on innovation that recommends product management to be handled through the Blockchain system we talked about in a previous article series. The farm would obtain an accurate track record, including monitoring each batch from any type of dairy product, tracing back to the group of animals where it started. Of course, the farm would not become disruptive, but the startup we assume is specialized in applying the Blockchain to family farming is.

Seed funding and the successive financing stages

shaking-hands If the dairy business can efficiently operate at a family business level, the same cannot be said about a startup aiming to apply Blockchain principles to agriculture. The latter will need many customers and a global market to become profitable and relevant. Businesses relying on technology are the exact opposite of family businesses: an exponential growth component, which leads almost without exception to the so-called Mergers & Acquisitions, meaning that global companies acquire them. An alternative would be going public on stock exchanges. Following the same logic, seed money is only the initial stage of financing. Once startups approach the breakeven point (when costs and revenues are equal), investment funds or Venture Capital companies aiming to take good and profitable ideas even further set their eyes on them. For these categories, seed money comes with somewhat looser obligations, based on more relaxed economic calculations and more generous terms, but also with substantial benefits if they invest early.

Where to find seed money?

light-money A business that is just moving from the pen and paper stage to real-life implementation can only benefit from lower financing than one already turned to profit. The potential investors are fewer in numbers. I would list three main categories of investors: 1. Family and friends - are you ashamed to ask for financial support? If that's the case, you may not trust your idea enough. Get rid of complexes – you are not asking them for anything for free. On the contrary, you allow them to be involved in a business out of which they will have great financial satisfaction. In addition, they get to change the world alongside you. In any case, this type of financing is essential and must be accessed as soon as possible. If you can't get money, then get services (from car transportation to graphic design, assuming you have a close one who can help you with something like that), but not for free, but in exchange for benefits. 2. Angel Investors/Business Angels - the category where I belong. Unlike family and friends, this includes investors with a very clear specialization: evaluating and optimizing businesses in their early stages of existence. Compared to Venture Capitalists, who are mainly profit-oriented, Angel Investors are more innovation-oriented and willing to take risks. In addition to financial support, a true Angel Investor provides you with business mentoring that will help a lot, as long as he has enough experience with startups. 3. Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending - crowdfunding - online financing from a large number of contributors on websites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo - is an idea that has gained plenty of momentum in recent years. Crowdfunding is suitable for projects with an artistic or social component. The people who finance crowdfunding projects get to enjoy various benefits, going as far as the product itself or limited editions of it. For example, the Lampster project, launched by two Romanian entrepreneurs, managed to raise a $1.3 million dollar financing. On the other hand, peer-to-peer lending is a novelty for the financial markets, helping entrepreneurs get the support of many investors in the form of loans, via fintech platforms. We're working on such a feature for too.

What do investors want for their seed money?

explaining The benefits that Angel Investors or other types of investors get can be grouped into two main categories: Shares in the company. The stakeholder status (usually minor stakeholder) will be rewarding during subsequent financing rounds, such as Venture Capital, stock exchange listings or when the business is sold to a global company. Return of investment. It takes place after the business becomes profitable; in this system, the bonds are the ones confirming the seed funding contribution. I do not think it is necessary to get into more details here, even though agreements between investors and entrepreneurs can be very diverse. The more important thing is for them to be clear, as financial and accounting instruments are easily identifiable later on.

How much seed money do you need?

  I assume you know the answer: it depends on the type of startup you designed. For example, a startup aiming to create physical products may get more expensive compared to another that develops innovative software - but it could be the other way around, depending on the ambitions for that particular software. Let’s be mindful of some important aspects:
  • Angel Investors bring contributions of tens of thousands of euros. Hundreds of thousands or millions of euros is not something you see every day in this market.
  • You can benefit from seed money only in the first years of business. It will be hard to convince someone that it is worth investing in an idea that has not made a profit for 10 years or in a company that is barely working after this time.
  • Cash flow is as important as total funding. Most of the time, it will not be possible to get the funding you need from the start to cover the costs of the first few years. You will need to come up with a plan that includes cost estimates for each quarter and allocate the right investors for each volume of seed money you require. You’ll be continuously reshuffling this plan, based on how you evaluate the approach strategies you already applied. But without regular financing, the idea could die.

Seed money and the win-win concept

man-large-door If you are surprised I did not make any bank references, you should know that my idea about startups began to take shape after the Dot Com bubble burst (the collapse of internet companies) around the year 2000 and after the economic crisis of 2007-2009. Having experienced these two unfortunate events, banks have become much more reluctant to provide financing, both in terms of interest rates and legal obligations. Determined entrepreneurs turned to other categories of investors - and for a good reason, because their momentum helped create or expand innovative capital markets segments, where people with money could put their financial resources to work. You need to think about this when you apply for a financing round: if your idea is convincing enough, you will get the money, but you will need to give something back in the long run. Also, keep in mind there are enough failing startups as well. However, seed money is part of a business area where the win-win idea (both sides win) has its place. You can follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn!
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