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Investor Jewel Burks On Deploying $50M Fund: Founders Focus Too Much On Fundraising, Not On Cashflow, Metrics, Product And Marketing

Investor Jewel Burks On Deploying $50M Fund: Founders Focus Too Much On Fundraising, Not On Cashflow, Metrics, Product And Marketing

Investor Jewel Burks

Investor Jewel Burks On Deploying $50M Fund: Founders Focus Too Much On Fundraising, Not On Cashflow, Metrics, Product And Marketing. In this photo, Jewel Burks Solomon arrives during the Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest EA SPORTS BOWL at State Farm Arena on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, in Atlanta. (Photo by Robb Cohen/Invision/AP)

Investor Jewel Burks Solomon gave some sage advice to startup founders via Twitter.

“I’ve noticed many founders are focused on the wrong things,” Burks Solomon tweeted on Monday. “There is so much emphasis on fundraising & not nearly enough on cash flow, marketing metrics, hiring, product, design, etc. We’ll continue to put out programs/content that center the focus on the things that matter most.”

As one of three co-founders of Collab Capital, Burks Solomon has keen insight into what it takes to build and scale a successful business. Before starting the investment fund in 2018 with partners Barry Givens and Justin Dawkins, Burks Solomon was a trailblazing founder in her own right.

Her startup, Partpic, which streamlined maintenance and repair of industrial parts through the use of computer technology, was acquired by Amazon in 2016. Burks Solomon’s comments come months after Collab Capital raised $50 million in a funding round to invest solely in Black founders.

Collab Capital seeks to decrease the racial wealth gap by helping Black-founded businesses overcome the funding and network challenges that often stifle their growth, according to its website.

Collab’s investment process is focused on early-stage companies working in three core areas: the future of work; the future of learning; and the future of care. They are open to investing in companies outside of this scope if it aligns with their vision.

Twitter users responded relatively positively to Burks Solomon’s advice. Some explained why tech founders may be laser-focused on fundraising, while others chimed in to add more suggestions.

“Raising funds makes waves and the front pages in a way the things that matter won’t. for what you do to help founders (especially new ones) focus,” @Kayodeodeleye responded.

“95% of tech press is about fundraising. It’s easy for first time founders to think this is where their attention should be,” user @tjmule chimed in.

“Can I add networking and relationship-building here? So many ppl tend to mush it together with sales and marketing, but it’s objectively something very critically different,” user @adammarx13 wrote. Burks replied his input was a “great addition.”

Burks Solomon isn’t the only one giving startup founders advice on mistakes to avoid. Y Combinator Managing Director Michael Seibel, who co-founded Justin.tv and Twitch, also dropped some nuggets for people looking to build successful companies.

Seibel lists some of the biggest mistakes first-time founders make:

  • Solving a problem you don’t care about
  • Helping users you don’t care about
  • Choosing co-founders you don’t know well
  • Not having transparent, honest conversations with co-founders
  • Not launching
  • Not using analytics
  • Not knowing where your first users will come from
  • Poor prioritization

“A lot of startups that fail basically fail because they lose motivation to continue working on their company,” Seibel said in a YouTube video discussing the topic. “A lot of that has to do with the fact they actually didn’t really like the problem they were working on in the beginning … There was no deep connection to the problem.”

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