Teja Edara, entrepreneur and UBC MBA student, sits down to talk with us about the foundation of Just Greet in Vancouver, BC. We follow his journey from concept to creation and explore challenges and lessons along the way.
What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in the Vancouver market?
There are two main challenges for any startup no matter the geographical location: financing and human resources. It’s hard to find people who are equally motivated and as a startup you cannot afford to pay that much. Lucky for me, I have a good investing team and MBA alumni from the Sauder School of Business. That made things a lot easier. Then we started to incorporate people one by one. Financing is definitely the biggest challenge in Vancouver. Finding capital is not as easy as if you go to the US. It’s hard to find investors and approach them with what you do.
What are the most valuable lessons you have learned throughout this process?
With investors the first step is getting to know each other and building trust. Successful entrepreneurs are already known in the market and they can access investors easily. For new people, it’s more about building the relationship with investors before even talking about money. I would suggest reaching as many people as possible and getting to know them. There are new angel investors in town every day.
Being an MBA student definitely helps when contacting investors. There are many resources to do so, but I used mainly two: Angel List and LinkedIn.
Angel List is a platform for investors and startups. You can do a very specific search and see who the angel investors present in town are.
You get the names and you can map them out in LinkedIn. Then you can contact them via LinkedIn InMail with 5 or 6 sentences explaining:
- Who you are
- Your background
- What you know about them
- Why are you interested in talking to them
You have to be very clear on what you would like to get out of a possible meeting. The chances of getting a reply using a good InMail are one to eight.
When I look for investors, I pay attention to the work they have been doing and the startups they have been supporting. Angel List can definitely help you with that. Investors, on the other side, look if they actually have the right resources to support your venture, such as expertise and contacts.
Could you walk us through the stages of the startup process?
I came to the MBA program and I wanted to try this great idea out. First, I tested the concept with help from other classmates. I got some feedback and then I understood that even to test the concept I needed a more proper, functional approach and for that I needed some money.
I started reaching out to investors and my mentor and angel investor advised me on how to go step by step establishing my venture: hiring a lawyer, forming a company, determining the share structure, equity, etc. Every investor wants to see proper steps and legalized processes.
To pitch investors you need to understand what the value of your venture is and prepare a pitching deck. We got a lot of support from Sauder alumni and even one of the professors joined as investor and advisor. It’s a mix of the whole startup community out there including other known Sauder startups such as Recon Instruments and Kiip.
Teja is a serial entrepreneur with more than four years of experience in marketing, sales and management consulting. He has worked with multiple stakeholders extensively in India and the United Kingdom. Having created and operated successful ventures in outdoor advertising and e-commerce in the Indian market, he has developed great expertise in sales, strategy and customer experience in a start up environment.