LFP246: The Crucial Role of Venture Accelerators – NEDs, Advisors, Mentors, Mentors of Mentors, Angels et al – w/Nic Lenz

The Founder(s) is(are) at the heart of creating something new that literally never existed before.  However they very much do not do this in vacuo needing to entice and hire a team below them but also, less well understood, a team around them. The surround will at some point coalesce into a formal Board (as opposed to a pro forma Board for Day0 – and for many days after – NewCos).

In this episode experienced NED/Advisor/Mentor/Angel Nic Lenz and I discuss experience in this field with particular reference to formerly senior BigCo folk who wish to get involved in the SmallCo world attracted by the creativity, and let’s face it greater fun/thrills&spills but also to educating the first time founder, or potential founder who will naturally realise they need a CTO et al but may think that “the organogram below them and some dosh” is all they need.  It’s certainly the minimum viable organisation but is it the optimal organisation for their personal support/challenge as well as the company’s future?

Both Nic and I have seen countless examples of where the right “grey hair or no hair” experienced folk even though very much part-time contributing to the company can make all the difference between success and failure. We also discuss the challenges of transitioning from BigCo to SmallCo – which applies to both founders and venture accelerators – along with mentoring mentors and the key essences of both sides of the venture creator and the venture accelerator equation.

Topics discussed include:

  • Nic’s rare furusato and transition to London
  • mysteries of the Netherlands and its history and relevance to London capital markets
  • Nic’s 20 years in investment banking
  • early entrepreneurial experiences
  • Nic’s career journey into Fintech
  • how to get to understand the very different world of SmallCo after time in BigCo
  • the first attitudinal step that needs to be taken when becoming a mentor
  • relevance of dating and mating and fishing…
  • how to find out what the real needs of a founder are
  • how all these concepts such as advising, mentoring, NEDing et al evolved in Nic’s experience
  • the importance of “not knowing”, listening and asking probing questions
  • the most powerful tool for all Venture Accelerant roles
  • never saying “that can’t be done” – how do you know it cant?
  • advisors et al need to help illuminate a journey not deny its possibility
  • venturing into the unknown – and it is the founder who is venturing into the unknown
  • the magnitude of founding as a task
  • supporting and challenging visions from a certain perspective
  • helping founders get from A to B
  • what are the core issues?
  • first time founders as special cases
  • what does it take to fund-raise?
  • the problem set after initial commercial success – the important aspects at this point
  • asking dumb questions
  • having startup advisors can be transformational – transition from there to Boards
  • ways not to see Boards
  • the two main practical challenges with being a venture accelerator – Case Study
  • the antidotes to the elephant traps awaiting the unwary
  • structuring remuneration creatively
  • intentionality and aligning interest
  • the caveats for the founder/company in dealing with venture accelerators
  • what should lead you into this world
  • the importance of wanting to help people and businesses go faster
  • “it’s extraordinarily rewarding [not necessarily in financial terms]”
  • Nic’s personal shoutouts and working in the worlds of Fintech and Cleantech
  • who Nic would like to hear from

And much much more 🙂

Share and enjoy!