Beyond securing financial support to develop your company, recruiting a business angel can provide you with many other kinds of support as well. To better understand how it all plays out in practice, myLIFE met with Alfonso García Frey, PhD, CEO and co-founder of Yotako. He explains how business angels helped him build his start-up.
Hello, Alfonso. Can you tell us what your business is all about?
At Yotako, we help web and mobile app developers be more efficient. To boil it down, when you want to create a mobile app, you have designers who help you come up with the visuals – pages, colours, etc. This graphic side is then translated into code by one or more developers. They look at the designs and make sure your app is compatible with the different types of smartphone (iOS and Android) and the different versions of available browsers (Firefox, Chrome, etc.). This can take weeks, or even months!
But with Yotako, you can do it in just a few clicks. We transform your design into lines of code. And if you’re more comfortable with a pen and paper, you can also design apps using Yotako Freehand Canvas.
There are several business angels supporting you right now. When did they get on board? Who made the first move?
You could say it was a shared initiative. We were on the lookout for business angels when we began our 2017 fundraiser. We found them, and it had the fortunate effect of spreading the word about us. When other investors heard about our project, they got in touch to learn more. So they didn’t all come into the picture at the same time; some have been with us from the start, but others came on board to help fund us at the last minute. Today, we’re supported by five business angels.
How did you convince them to venture into the unknown with you?
Our business angels are people we can turn to to discuss concrete goals objectively. Once we had established the desire to collaborate, we began to look at the touchier areas, like the amount of funding and the terms of the deal. Overall, you can say that both sides were interested in a partnership. That of course made negotiations easier and more effective.
We have the great fortune of being able to call on a team of business angels with a wealth of diverse and complementary experience. These are people with excellent networks; successful entrepreneurs with profiles that complement our own. All this comes together into a major advantage for the project, with undeniable added value.
What have they helped you with specifically?
The majority have helped us in two main areas: by making a financial contribution on the one hand, and by providing support with added value on the other. At Yotako, we have the great fortune of being able to call on a team of business angels with a wealth of diverse and complementary experience. These are people with excellent networks. They’re successful entrepreneurs, with profiles that complement our own. All this comes together into a major advantage for the project, with undeniable added value – especially for a start-up!
What is the secret to good collaboration?
In general, I would say that good collaboration is highly dependent on the quality of interpersonal relations with the business angel, and their level of involvement in the project. For some, it’s just another investment, while for others, it’s a way to be part of something exciting.
Either way, it’s good to be able to call on people with different experience, knowledge, networks and perspectives. This allows you to consider as many alternatives as possible, especially when times are hard or there are important decisions to be made.
How do you organise your work in the day-to-day?
We try to address the major issues surrounding what we call “Strategic Recommendations”. I prefer to open the dialogue to all my investors as early on as possible. Not just so that we all have the same information, but more importantly, to enrich our discussions and gain as many perspectives as we can on the issues at hand. For urgent decisions, we communicate by email or telephone. That’s part of every day.
I think you have to seize the opportunity to access people with so much work and life experience.
Are you the captain of the ship, or do the business angels also help manage your company?
As a société anonyme, we have a Board of Directors whose powers are clearly defined and regulated by law and the company’s articles of association. This delineates the capacities in which members can act, and their responsibilities. So an investor who is on the Board of Directors won’t have the same responsibilities as one who isn’t.
At Yotako, our investors don’t hold management positions. The day-to-day management of the company is my job. But that doesn’t mean I can’t discuss certain management decisions with them first. I think you have to seize the opportunity to access people with so much work and life experience.
Did you have any particular fears when deciding to go to a business angel?
More than anything else, I was afraid none would be available to take us on!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Learn fast, and accept help. And above all, look for quality, not quantity.
What advice would you give a young entrepreneur looking for a business angel?
Be humble and honest with yourself and your future investors. Business angels are people like you and me, with experiences, knowledge, networks and their own views on things. Try and use all that. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Learn fast, and accept help. And above all, look for quality, not quantity.
Check out the interview with Larissa Best, President of the Luxembourg Business Angel Network (LBAN) to learn more about business angels and hear what they have to say about their added value.