Devon George has been helping startups apply strategic execution and infrastructure to their business operations since 2001 and is currently the President of DMV Capital Corp, a family office. He has built and developed strategies for web, software, ecommerce and technology companies.
Before DMV Capital, Devon served as a founding member of Freshnotes, a social search company seeking to index, connect and distribute person-based information on the web (social search). Previously, Devon was a member of the PetCareRx (online pet pharmacy) leadership team through multiples of revenue growth. He has also held various advisory positions for many small and startup companies as a consultant and sometime owner.
Devon is a graduate of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (2001). Born and raised on Long Island, NY as a member of a happy family that enjoys the outdoors and good neighbors.
1.What made you decide to get involved in VC funding and Angel Investing?
My experience building two companies from ground floor to fully functioning and sustainable businesses gave me a personal sense of fulfilment. Knowing the ins and outs of decision making and daily operations gave me great insite into the tipping points of particular businesses, what it takes to succeed and survive. Parlaying my experience into managing capital and making investments was easy as it all revolves around managing risk/reward and efficiently allocating resources (assets).
2.Could you differentiate between Venture Capital funding and Angel Investing?
The most important difference between Venture Capital funding and Angel Investing is the expectations between investor and entrepreneur. Angels are most often passionate about ideas and execution as they are current, or ex, entrepreneurs as well which makes them great mentors. VC’s often have deeper pockets and their involvement means your business is developing nicely but also that you should look forward to more hard questions and fewer pats on the back. Both VCs and Angels serve beneficial purposes.
Here are some good comparatives:
3.What was the best presentation you ever saw?Why?
Best presentation I’ve ever seen came from a company that is still very small but growing fast named Off Track Planet http://offtrackplanet.com/ . The co-founder contacted me through Angel.co and sent me a link to a Youtube video describing the company and what they were trying to accomplish. The video was fun, quick and informative enough for an investor to want to know more. The first impression, in this case a finely crafted short video, of a company and it’s founder is essential and goes beyond a very good in person or on paper presentation.
4.What was the worst presentation you ever saw?
Two examples of horrible presentations were 1) horribly formatted and spelling mistake ridden and 2) too many words and information on a piece of paper of projection. Even if an idea is the next Google, if you don’t present it to me in a very consumable way it shows me you will not be able to execute and share your idea with your customers. In other words, if you cannot create a clean and provoking presentation you probably cannot create a product people will buy.
5.What is the average success rate of investments that you make?
I’m a relatively new investor. To date I’m batting 0.500 but I’ve only exited 2 companies.
6.You probably see a lot of pitches, apart from having a great idea what are some ways to help you stand out from the crowd in a positive way?
A good pitch will talk about execution in sales and product development. If one of the founding team has great connections that will help create deals/sales/usage that’s a huge plus. If it’s going to take a lot of legwork to test/execute on an idea at least show you know the challenges involved and how/when you will achieve specific goals.
7.Whats the best way to build a relationship with Angel/V.C investor without looking like your going to be looking for money in the future?
Networking is the best way to meet and build a relationship. Connect with another entrepreneur who has been funded by VC’s or Angels in the past so they can connect you with and guide you through the financing process. ALSO, VCs and Angels want you to ask for money but make sure you do so without being too up front or abrasive (be nice, inquisitive and not annoying).
8.In your opinion what more important? Having a good revenue model but lacking a user base/traction or having a great user base but no revenue?
A model is just that, so user traction (dependant upon who those user are) is much more valuable if it’s proven. If you can prove a few examples of a revenue model at work I would pick the revenue model, but of course that’s traction. Proof of a solved pain point, in usage, is what all smart investors want.
9. As an experienced entrepreneur what advice would you give to up and coming teen entrepreneurs?
First work hard, then work smart. Listen to everybody but filter. Find a good mentor. Be decisive. Execute.