Imran Sheikh, Draper University, Spring 2019
Draper University kicked off a full day of speaker panels with an inspirational entrepreneur, Imran Sheikh. He started his entrepreneurial journey building companies from his bedroom in Pakistan to being among the most successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. He is now the Director of Product Design and Innovation at ShareThisinc., a well established and successful company empowering 3 million publishers and 420 millions users to share content across the internet. He is currently helping entrepreneurs worldwide by mentoring them and making sure they’re addressing the right pain points.
Sheikh walked us through his fundraising journey with VC’s and how he got countless “No’s” before he got his first “YES!” DU students were curious to find out how he tackled the following 5 questions that investors ask startup founders:
1) How are you different? What makes your team suited to solve this problem?
Imran said “you have to understand what you’re building and why?Sell a dream, not your product. How are you going to change the world? Make an action plan. You have to question every single thing you work on every single day (your product, your team, your co-founders, your investor). Are your investors pushing you? Are they nice? Nice investors are the worst investors you can have; you need investors who ask you tough questions and push you all the way. Pick co-founders that will be with you through thick and thin.”
2) How do you get an investor on board if you don’t have a CTO?
You don’t need to be a tech-savvy guy to see the potential growth of a Minimum Viable Product. Make a prototype, make it as perfect as it can be. A good MVP solves a particular problem using the most basic functionalities. It targets a specific audience by addressing a single pain point. Show the investors that you can contribute value as a non-technical founder. Use a tool likeInvisionto mimic user experience and improve your design workflow.
3) What traction have you made?
“Be as clear as you can. Know your numbers. Don’t hesitate. Be transparent.” Imran advised us that traction can be addressed in many ways — “If you don’t have revenue, focus on your users, if you don’t have users, focus on video views. Pick a single metric and make it grow.”
4) What if a big company in your market (e.g. Facebook) decides to do what you’re doing? Will they eat you up?
Imran confidently responded with “tell them you’ll be acquired by them because you know your target market better than anyone else.”
5) What milestones have you met? How will you grow?
Imran said that is one of the most difficult questions: “you have to be able to paint a picture of how your startup is going to look like 6 months, 5 years, 10 years down the line. If you don’t have any growth right now, you have to promise them that the next time you meet you will be 10x larger.”