One of the great things about being an entrepreneur is that there are always so many people and organizations who want to help. The other side of that coin is the flinty-eyed question that every successful entrepreneur eventually learns to ask: “Is this the help I need right now?”
Accepting help takes time—and no entrepreneur ever has enough time. This is never more true than in the first three years or so of a startup’s life. Think of everything that has to happen in those three years. It starts with a big idea of course. The entrepreneur recognizes a problem in a target market and comes up with a solution. Then the hard work really starts. Validating the problem and the market. Pivoting. Revalidating. Prototyping.
To have a chance at success, entrepreneurs must be almost miserly in prioritizing every choice, every activity, and every hour they spend.
When it comes to investing in “help,” how do the skills and services being offered right now match up to achieve the specific milestones of the business plan, and at what price? That’s what entrepreneurs should ask the first time and every time an individual or organization offers support—whether that assistance comes free or for a fee, and especially if a percentage of equity is required.
For college and university students who think they might want to make a career as an entrepreneur, there is Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup—Oklahoma’s unique statewide collegiate business plan competition where students learn the nitty-gritty of what it takes to build a business plan for a startup company.
Entrepreneurs who are ready to take the real-life plunge to start a real-life company need much more specific support. They need to know how to build their company, not just any company.
At i2E, we are an organization of people whose sole mission is to serve scalable technology-based businesses that have the potential to grow into larger companies and create quality jobs. Our goal is for those entrepreneurs to start their clock with us.
We have invested the last twenty-plus years in developing dual continuums of venture services and venture capital to help technology entrepreneurs efficiently startup and scale technology-based businesses. Entrepreneurs don’t come to us to get educated on how to start a company. They come to i2E to get their specific business idea to the marketplace.
We know how to do that because our advisors have started companies. They have secured patents and validated real products with real customers. There is nothing theoretical about what we do. We are intentional and deliberate. We collaborate with our client companies for a minimum of a year, and when we invest we are there as long as the company wants us to be.
Given the right circumstance, a business founder can raise more capital, hire more people, and build more prototypes. Adding two more hours to the clock is impossible, but leveraging time the same way a startup leverages capital is something i2E can teach. We’ve done it hundreds of times.
Scott Meacham CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at [email protected]