Dan Altschuler Malek of Unovis Capital joins Plant Powered Consulting Founder Elysabeth Alfano on the Plantbased Business Hour with tips for both entrepreneurs and investors. How to pick a winning plant-based start-Up? What valuations make sense? How important are numbers in a deck? They get into it all!
They discuss what Dan looks for in a founder, why he doesn’t invest in public markets and the key to building a successful company.
Elysabeth: Thanks for being with me here today. What tips do you have for a very good pitch? Because as you said before, so much depends on narrative.
Dan Altschuler Malek: Honesty, energy, and curiosity. It’s completely fine when a founder has not found an answer for something. Nobody’s supposed to have all the answers on day one.
It is helpful when they know what they don’t know. It is helpful when they are saying, “I’ve come so far, but there are these other matters for which I’m looking for partners.” And that’s what we are.
Yes, we are investing capital, but we are not basically buying shares and going away. We are partnering with these companies and we’ve tried to provide our time, our expertise, our networks. So, someone who turns around and says, “I’ve developed this, but I need help with this.” To me that’s actually a plus sign.
So, I would say it’s a conversation with us. We don’t know it all [either.] We’re going to have misses, as well. I spoke with a founder recently. I won’t say who it is, but we spoke and he was really, really nice and he said, “You may or may not remember me but we met a couple of years ago.” And now his company is worth a lot of money, and we had passed because we don’t know it all.
But I’m very, very happy for him because he went about it and I think that’s something else that founders should understand is that a ‘No’ from a VC just says that it either wasn’t the right time with that VC or it wasn’t the right VC and you should continue going forward.
You should listen, [of course.] I try to give feedback as to why we may or may not [invest]-and that’s the other thing, if you pitch to a founder and the founder says ‘No’, I might wait a week or two weeks and just send a follow up email asking for some candid feedback. Not trying to resell, but just saying, “Are there any tips on what you did not like that I presented?” or, “Could I improve on my presentation?” We can all improve on it and it’s really hard, you know, [when] there is a lot of pressure. It’s public speaking, it’s not enjoyable.
I don’t know how I feel about Zoom. It’s hard to pitch around Zoom. For me you can’t really build that personal connection which I feel is so important, but this is the world in which we are living in today.
Elysabeth: Well, I’m wondering, because you’ve brought up so many good personal traits. One might attribute all of these personal traits to someone in a relationship. You wouldn’t necessarily say well these are businessman or businesswoman traits: having humility, being willing to find the answer and being collaborative. They’re not necessarily business traits. So, it seems that you’re also looking for that human connection with the founder, is that right?
Dan Altschuler Malek: Humans first. We’re relationship driven. So, it might not be the time now but we want to keep people within our circle. You know, we move in tribes. There is a fabulous founder and I’m blanking on her name but, if not, I would plug in her company. She has these amazing apple cider drinks and she’s out of Portland and she sent me those.
I was the first VC she connected with and this is not a space we invest in, but I really would like to help her out because I think she’s done an amazing job with no external funds. And so, at the end of the day, I want to help because I enjoy this. I learn from entrepreneurs and there’s a lot of energy with people that are just motivated to make something happen. They’re not driven by money. They do want to have financial success and I can completely understand that, but they want to make their idea come true and it’s really wonderful to see and be around.
Now you can be a part of the conversation. The Plantbased Business Hour airs LIVE on LinkedIn every Tuesday at 1p PT on Elysabeth Alfano’s LinkedIn Page: here. Tune in to ask the most influential leaders in the plant-based business arena your questions. To make sure you never miss an episode, vegconomist will be also be featuring The Plantbased Business Hour interviews every Wednesday. Stay tuned right here for more. To learn more about The Plantbased Business Hour, click here. Follow Elysabeth on LinkedIn here and PBH here.
For inquiries regarding sponsorship of The Plantbased Business Hour, contact Emma Clarkson at [email protected]