LFP178 – Connecting Startups, Investors, NEDs/Advisors/Mentors w/Roei Samuel CEO Connectd

Way back in the day LFP002 was with matchi.biz who were creating a marketplace to connect innovative firms with incumbents who needed that innovation so the idea of a connection function or market has been around for some time. As matchi.biz were acquired by KPMG in 2017 they were clearly not only successful at creating such a marketplace but did it so well that like a hoover hoovering itself up they got sucked thru their own portal too.

Can these concepts apply to enabling and empowering entrepreneurs? After all the most useful attributes for a founder are acquiring funders, good board members, advisors and/or mentors.

Markets sound like a good idea, albeit one that crony capitalism is forgetting. Markets operate best when what they trade is fungible – eg US$ or gold bullion of a certain quality. However as every marriage broker knows people aren’t exactly fungible – indeed they are perhaps the least fungible thing going. But all these swipe left and right apps seem to make a living for themselves and entertainment for the swipers with some success in the dating and mating game.

Roei and Connectd have set out to make a digital marketplace to add liquidity to the world of startups, investors and the hard-to-name yet super-valuable NED/Advisor/Mentor sector. This has naturally only been amplified massively in the world of lockdown. Historically the “well-connected” have had a head-start in life – can this change in the modern world and everyone be leveled-up?

Topics discussed include:

  • Roei’s and Connectd’s curious challenge with the letter “e”
  • recommended viewing recently Seaspiracy , The Silk Road, Antarctica A Year On Ice, Tehran Taxi
  • Roie’s journey from wannabe diplomat to diverting into a tech startup in the Sports/eSports market, gaining 9.5 million (!) users and a successful exit
  • gaming is worth more than films and music combined
  • leveraging his experience (including qua Mentor/Angel) and challenges to produce the concept and understanding of needs of the market that led to Connectd
  • the two types of entrepreneur – those who immediately do the duck-to-water bit and those who first immerse themselves in an industry and then find the opportunities
  • Roie’s experience in the round that only 3-4% of Angel Investors/NEDs-Mentors have requisite infrastructure for the best origination – leaving huge untapped resources out there unable to connect to the Startups who would benefit from connections with them
  • “95-96% of Angels are making their investments based on tax benefit” [super-helpful but of course not the whole story]
  • the original idea of Connectd was “Family Office as a Service” from which it developed to where it is today
  • the game-changing impact of the response to Covid in forcing/accelerating the move to digital – “golf course” deals no longer being possible
  • the “digital”/”square-peg”/”document” and “organic”/”personality”/”chemistry”/”round-peg” aspects of a human being and how they can be handled online
  • comparison with CV-based search industry
  • digitising psychometrics and relating to Corporate Creativity
  • the challenge of really knowing someone can take years anyway…
  • many Startups need specific skills/advice/knowledge and so can be very single-issue led
  • the importance of engaging in many different ways – not just, as it were, as a Square/Triangle/Circle (and then of course this leads into getting to know the person in a professional relationship – ie dating/going on holiday fit in between “online meeting” and “long term commitment/relationship”
  • in re above mentorship/advisory as intermediary steps
  • Case Study of a FoodTech business that came onto the platform thinking it wanted a NED but actually meeting it’s needs in a very different and more pertinent way
  • the challenge of marketing/selling mentoring without a specific way of connecting supply and demand
  • looking into NEDs/Advisors/Mentors category
  • Connectd was launched Feb20
  • 20% m/o/m growth since
  • ~1,000 paying customers right now, still very early stage
  • value-adding tools plans
  • pricing ~£20-30 p.mt and a transaction fee
  • monetising people’s network, skills and expertise for the benefit of the Startup world
  • UK-focused now although non-UK transactions have already taken place on the platform
  • the essential role of entrepreneurs and Startups in rescuing the economy from governmental catastrophic economic actions

And much more 🙂

Share and enjoy!