I Only Get a Wow Effect in One out of 50 Projects

Milan Ponert, COO of UP21, regularly sits at the Mainboard where entrepreneurs come to pitch to investors. Along with other members of the management, he decides their fate. They either get the investment or they don’t. The key elements that he is looking for are you will learn in this article.

The presentation needs to make sense.

An idea can only be successful if there is a strong team behind it. It is not enough to have a great idea and team, but you also need consistent execution, good timing and a potential to impact the industry. I look for these components in every startup. I put the greatest emphasis on the team because if the team does not have the best idea, they can always change it, but if the team is not good, the business will not go in the right direction.

I should understand the business in less than 10 minutes.

As an investor, I need to get information about the idea, the customers, the competition, the business model and the team. As far as the team is concerned, I not only want to know the names of the people and their positions, but also what their background is. An entrepreneur does not have to include every single detail in the presentation, but they should also be able to clearly explain what the project is about. I will ask for the missing details after the presentation.

I should feel that the project has a great potential.

From my experience, people usually go in two extremes. Either they totally undervalue their potential or, on the contrary, they completely overvalue it. I know that estimating the company's potential over the next few years is very difficult, but it is better to be self-confident and show great potential than be doubtful and not believe in it. I definitely prefer to invest in someone who wants to conquer the world in a few years than someone who wants to focus only on the Czech market.

I check the factual accuracy of the data.

When someone tells me that according to the latest research, their technology will revolutionize the processing of big data, I will ask them who produced the study and where I can find it. When I see numbers and facts, I want to know where they come from and whether they are up-to-date. Quoting sources is a key thing for me. I am equally interested in the feasibility and usage of technologies. I want to know what technologies will be used and why and if there is someone in the team with a technical background.

I closely watch people’s ability to receive feedback.

Every beginner believes that their idea is the best one in the world and everyone will be interested in their product. But it just doesn’t work like that. The role of the investor is, among other things, to give people feedback. If people don’t want to hear our opinion, it is a warning sign for us. How can we work in the long term with someone whom we want to help but they reject it?

People come to us at different stages of doing business. Some have an interesting idea in their head, while others have already programmed their application. At the early concept stage, we we have to rely on only the feeling we get from the person. I do not require any specific dress code. I also don’t have any checklist to tick off. I always decide on the basis of whether I feel good about the person and whether their idea makes sense to me.