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The quality of your aha! moment

Sooner or later, investors will ask “Why are you doing this?”

It’s a fair and sometimes difficult question and many entrepreneurs struggle to articulate the sequential development of their vision; how they gained the knowledge, problem experience, and insight that caused them to take action in founding their startup and becoming an entrepreneur.

Maybe a moment, maybe an evolving recognition!

Having this insight where experience, knowledge, technology and “what if” creative thinking come together is exciting, euphoric and can be inspirational.  For the entrepreneur, it’s often a moment of inflection, where a decision to take action results in a startup business.  The quality of the aha moment is critical to creating that burning and sustainable passion to address a problem or opportunity that can grow into a business that drives innovation and transforms the world.

Based on my conversations with many entrepreneurs, aha moments are living, breathing concepts that have to be shared.  Sharing your vision and listening to the responses provides more knowledge, experience, and feasibility to validate the original premise of the aha moment.  Selling your vision to customers, business partners, vendors, and employees is one of the most critical skills to master in building a startup company.

As an early stage investor, I want to discern what a person or a team went through that brought at least one of founders to have that “aha! moment”.  My question is: “What experiences or knowledge made you wake up one morning and decide to address this need or opportunity?”.

aha moments are pretty common and can be the genesis of a Big vision

Everyone experiences aha moments as the confluence of knowledge, insight, and creativity often starts with recognizing a better way to organize our daily lives.  Think about all of those insights you have had about a better way to incorporate a desirable activity, like a better diet, less alcohol, more exercise or a way to get stuff done, like get up early to do your best creative thinking. 

After spending 10 years as an angel investor, I had an aha! moment about the need among startup companies to gain visibility and product awareness. The result was this show, Game Changers Silicon Valley; the mission is to tell the story about the innovators of today who will be the game changers of tomorrow.

An aha moment can be monumental, life-changing event…

For those who can transform the aha moment and its resulting vision into an actual business, life will never be the same.  The world has irrevocably changed as a result of the many people who developed a sustainable mission based on that key aha! moment.

What’s interesting about this interview?

In conversations prior to this show, it was clear that the entrepreneur, Barbara Tien, had experienced an insightful aha moment and built a company to serve a well-defined need.  In that aha! moment, Barbara was transformed from a person, from a financially conservative employee to an entrepreneur, who risked it all.

My other guest, Alicia Castillo Holley is an experience woman entrepreneur, angel investor, and an unstoppable force. Alicia met Barbara while conducting early due diligence on behalf of an angel investor group considering an investment in the company, Ponga.  From those conversations during the first due diligence meetings, a unique mentor relationship developed.

One of Alicia’s missions in life is to help women find funding for their startup businesses.   Alicia also had an aha! Moment as described on her www.WomenGetFunded.com webpage:

“I’m a Silicon Valley Angel Investor and I have Ph.D. in finance and entrepreneurship. I was once in your shoes.  I have always found a way to raise the funds I needed, and after moving to Silicon Valley, I was shocked to see so few women seeking funding, and so many of them severely disadvantaged… not because of their gender but because they were not prepared.”  (quote from Alicia Castillo Holly)

Contact Info

Barbara Tiem : barbara@ponga.com

Alicia Castillo Holley : aliciacastillo@wealthing.com

Website Link - : www.ponga.com, www.WomenGetFunded.com

Alicia Castillo Holley is a member of the Sand Hill Angels, see www.sandhillangels.com for information on how to submit your business plan for consideration.

The website for Ponga is www.ponga.com

Barbara, the entrepreneur met Alicia, the investor, during the first phase of a company review and qualification process. The first conversation initiated an understanding of the Ponga product, the problem being solved, the market, team, traction, all good stuff. There was great chemistry in those meetings. Barbara provides personal insights on what was different about this advisor, why was the feedback so useful and why did the quality of the relationship supersede other similar relationships?