Founder Fridays: An Interview with Joe Benjamin, Founder and CEO of youngStartup Ventures

Joe Benjamin founded youngStartup Ventures in 1999 to help entrepreneurs build successful enterprises. His company places tremendous value on creating working partnerships with entrepreneurs and management, investing its time, experience, knowledge and connections to drive success. 

youngStartup Ventures 10th Annual VC Outlook 2011 will be held February 15 at Goodwin Procter’s New York office. In addition to the annual VC panel, this year’s program will feature one-on-one speed pitching. Three companies will also be selected at random to present live to VC Outlook’s attendees. Investors participating in speed pitching include Flybridge Capital Partners, Rho Ventures, Penny Black, Connecticut Innovations, Time Warner Investments, Cava Capital, Originate Ventures, Edison Ventures, First Round Capital, Metamorphic Ventures, StarVest Partners, Investor Growth Capital, Union Square Ventures and Chart Venture Partners. More information on VC Outlook 2011 can be found here.

Name, Age, Current Occupation: Joe Benjamin, 34, Founder and CEO of youngStartup Ventures

My start-up path: I’m an entrepreneur.

I start my day at 7:30 am and end my day at: 2:00 am.

I founded youngStartup Ventures because: At that time, resources were lacking for entrepreneurs. I wanted to bring together the necessary resources and answer questions for them. At the outset, we wanted to create an online resource, but youngStartup grew into an organization that focuses on helping start-ups get funding. 

youngStartup Ventures helps entrepreneurs by: Making connections and helping them get access to investors and exposure through our network. At youngStartup Ventures, we’re all about helping innovators connect with investors. If and when an entrepreneur needs funding, we’re there. Our organization doesn’t take an equity stake in the companies we work with – we just charge fees for registration for our events. We also help investors build their pipeline.

The biggest challenge of working with entrepreneurs is: Traditionally, the lack of awareness on an entrepreneur’s part that they need assistance in going about raising funds. We host coaching sessions with practice investors. Companies improve tremendously from attending these sessions. 

The 10th Annual VC Outlook Summit is February 15. It’s different from other panels because: It is the annual VC program in New York. We were at it with VC Outlook long before the hype that New York needs to help start-ups. Also, this year we’re introducing one-on-one speed pitching, a chance to pitch directly to VC and angel investors.

What’s your advice to an entrepreneur on how to make the most of speed pitching? Understand that at the end of the day, the investor wants to hear the dollar sign. You have to show the investor your credibility up front. You need to tell the investor what problem you’re solving. And you need to be confident that you are in fact solving this problem. And that you’ll be making a decent amount of money doing it. But, don’t give it all away up front. Entice a follow-up. You have to tease and entice to attract the follow-up.

What’s the best way to waste those few minutes? Not clearly explaining what problem you’re solving. Not explaining why it is that you believe that you are the one to pull this off. You need to be credible and show yourself to be an expert in your area. A big part of it is credibility. For example, if you’ve already signed on customers, then tell that to the investors.

The one legal concept I find entrepreneurs struggle with the most is: The art of setting a company’s valuation. 

The best piece of legal advice I ever received was: When you’re negotiating with VCs, you need a well-known member of the industry involved in the process. You don’t want to create a situation where it’s difficult to negotiate. And even if that deal doesn’t happen then, you may face the same investors down the road.

Right now, I’m reading: The PayPal Wars: Battles with eBay, the Media, the Mafia and the Rest of the Planet Earth by Eric M. Jackson.

The blogs I’m reading are: The Wall Street Journal Venture Capital Dispatch.

This post was authored by Nithya Das.

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