What We Look For In Student-Run Startup Companies

At Textbook Ventures, we’re looking to invest in the future entrepreneurs of Australia. As students ourselves, we understand that there may be barriers to being an entrepreneur while in university. Whether it be having your time split between university and your company, or going through the process of fundraising to support your idea, life as a student entrepreneur is not easy. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.

We’re a student-led venture capital fund and we understand many of the problems you might be facing as fellow students. Here are some guiding principles for the teams & markets we like to work closely with and why:

The Team

Ideas are cheap, but the art of execution is where successful startups really stand out. Take Slack for example, while the idea is not the most innovative one out there, the execution is world-class. That’s why, before anything else, when we look for startups, we are not exactly looking at your idea, we are looking for an exceptional team for that idea.

At Textbook Ventures, we consider the following:

Connection to the Problem — We want to know why your team is the one that’s more likely to succeed at your chosen task compared to the rest of the population. This may stem from a technical expertise or a problem you may have faced personally.

Technical Team — We like hackers and technical people since they can get stuff done with little to no money. Having a technical founder is even more encouraged, as they will take ownership of the product.

The Lean Startup Approach — The greatest risk with any startup is that your customers won’t purchase your product or service. To ensure this does not happen we encourage you to validate your idea and speak to intended customers to collect feedback on whether or not there is a need for what you are doing.

Driven by Metrics & Data — Your business must be driven by data. Ideas are good but mean nothing in absence of proper validation and data. We want our startups to focus on the metrics that actually matter.

Chemistry—As with any partnership, we need to be able to get along and work well together. As long as you have the drive and attitude, it shouldn’t be a problem.

The Product and Market

The world is accelerating at an extraordinary pace. In order for startups to be successful, the connection between the product and the current or future market is important.

From one of our favourite books, the Lean Product Playbook.

At Textbook Ventures, there are three key things that we look for, that we think define success:

Global from Day 1 — We want you to be thinking how your company can be a global winner from day one, rather than being specifically built for the Australian market. While you can pilot in Australia, think about how you can scale your business worldwide.

“Deep Tech” Projects — We believe these companies will be the ones to challenge and disrupt the status quo. AI, automatous transportation, space and mixed reality are on our doorstep and we like to be the ones to invest in the future. This is not to say we will not work with SaaS companies, but we have noticed a shift towards more technical projects.

Scalability and Sustainability — At the end of the day, we want to see that your company can demonstrate a scalable yet sustainable business model.

Join Our Textbook Ventures Startup Cohort

Though this list may appear daunting to some, that’s what we believe it takes in order to succeed. It’s a big world out there but you’re definitely not alone. We are always on the look out for amazing student entrepreneurs, to help them take their startup to the next step. We generally look for early stage startups, that either have a MVP or have a MVP that is close to completion. But if you have an idea that really stands out, we want to hear from you.

Our startup applications for 2017 Semester 2 is out now.

If this sounds like a journey you’d like to join us on, drop me a line on twitter @_davidjlu or email david@textbook.ventures