What Investors Look For When Evaluating Your Pitch: Mohammed Al-Ayouti, Managing Director, Vodafone Ventures Egypt

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When considering an investment pitch, here are the first five things I look for:

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1. TEAM 

The fact that a team exists is the first filter. I don’t like single-founder startups, let alone one-man shows. The team members have to share the same vision, both short-term and long-term, and the key team members have to be dedicated to the startup- not employed elsewhere, or even worse, juggling other startups.

2. PROVEN ABILITY TO EXECUTE

Can the entrepreneurs pull it off? This would be most apparent by how the startup has progressed so far, but can also be assessed from their track record in previous startups, and/or their career experience.

3. MARKET UNDERSTANDING

Does the team understand the space they’re in? Do they know their competitors? Also, I stay away from entrepreneurs who say it’s an X billion dollar market so if we get 1% we’ll be great. The question is how will you achieve that 1%? Bottomup sizing beats top-down sizing in my book.

4. COACHABILITY

From experience, the odds of success for an entrepreneur who is always ‘right’ are very slim. It’s very likely that the startup will change direction a few times along the road as it seeks its product-market fit, and the CEO has to show that he or she will listen and respond to feedback.

5. HUNGER

Are the entrepreneurs out there to create a lifestyle business or are they setting out to do 100x growth? A big watch-out here is founder compensation: entrepreneurs seeking large salaries imply that they seek comfort or aren’t confident about their startup, and that they are diverting a large chunk of the investment -given that we’re in early stage- straight to their pockets.” 

Mohammed Al-Ayouti

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Mohammed Al-Ayouti is an intrapreneur at Vodafone Egypt, where he has been exploring new frontiers for the company since 2008. He launched and leads Vodafone Ventures Egypt, Vodafone’s VC arm, to support and harness the local tech startup ecosystem. Mohammed is a passionate about entrepreneurship in Egypt, with a mobile-centric bias. Previously, played a role in the advancement of mobile data in Egypt, by creating Vodafone's mobile Internet unit, and driving it to market-leading success by launching data plans, smartphones, apps, and digital platforms. An entrepreneur at heart, Mohammed acquired 10 years of local Internet industry know-how as an entrepreneur, and holds a B.Sc. in Computer Engineering from Cairo University.