It’s often the exciting buzz of the entrepreneur’s idea or technology that first grabs our attention.
Then we talk about the entrepreneur’s tenacity and perseverance in the inevitable endurance race to raise multiple rounds of risk capital.
And when investors say yes, as they recently have to Jeremy Morton, Ph.D., and founder of Expert TA, we share the entrepreneur’s euphoria.
But that euphoria lasts about as long as it takes the ink on the investors’ check to dry. Then the really hard work to achieve the milestones of the business plan takes over.
In June, the Oklahoma Seed Capital Fund, co-investing with Seed Step Angels, closed an equity investment in Tulsa-based Expert TA.
“With this investment, we are well-capitalized and positioned to continue our growth,” Morton said. “But celebration is short. When you are in my position, you wake up every day, and your first thought has to be there is a mountain of work that has to be done to get us across the finish line. Our focus has to be on how we are going to use the capital to achieve our goals.”
Expert TA, which provides Web-based software that helps professors and teaching assistants (TAs) grade highly complex problems in mathematics, physics, chemistry and other sciences, already has a track record of methodically achieving the milestones of its business plan.
The company has progressed from proof-of-concept to paying customers in about 18 months.
Completed and launched production software. Check. Installed the software in universities for live beta tests. Check. Gained real-life feedback from professors, students and TAs. Check.
“The universities liked what they saw and had great suggestions on how we could enhance and improve the product,” Morton said.
That’s the kind of focus, market-engagement and progress that makes investors want to invest.
For Expert TA, sales and marketing milestones and product enhancements are next. The company will be hiring executive leadership and additional sales and technical talent.
Entrepreneurship is about having innovative ideas and presenting them in a compelling way to attract investors.
Sustainable entrepreneurship comes about through focused execution.
That means knowing who your market is; building a product that customers want to buy, and then figuring out how to reach them cost-effectively.
It’s all in the execution. Check!
Tom Walker is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Walker at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
Originally posted on July 12, 2011 by Tom Walker
Copyright © 2011, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
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