Hi, I'm Abis Soetan of Greentree Investment Company. Ask me anything!


#1

Hi All, my name is Abis Soetan. I’m an engineer, treasurer, investor and entrepreneur.

At Greentree we are passionate about helping startups grow quickly and sustainably, and we want to “scale” this goodness through our startup lab.

I’m happy for you to tap my brains for a few hours, so ask me anything! :slight_smile:

www.greentreeinvco.com
www.aerarioconsulting.com


#2

#3

If you can help us by providing a link to your website first, or samples of what you have done, that will be appreciated.


#4

Hello Abis, I have a project and I am seeking investor / partners who can help me develop it into a fullscale business. What kind of support will your company provide to my (our) business?


#5

What stage of startups are you interested in? Pre traction, traction etc


#6

Hi Abis, do you accept applications from just Nigeria or all over Africa?


#7

Hi, sorry for the incomplete introduction.

I’ve edited my opening blurb to include the website for Greentree, as well as the consulting company I work through - aerario, which is Latin for treasury!

Greentree are early backers of Paystack, with a few other investments - including this platform!

Personally I wear quite a few hats but spend most of my time helping startups with their numbers and strategies to scale.

Thanks


#8

Quick PSA! I feel like we might have done a very good job of describing what this AMA is about. While @Abis and Greentree are definitely gung ho about giving startups/entrepreneurs money (they are investors Paystack, Big Cabal Media and Seegad), Abis’ specialty is helping startups get their house in order very early on. This is important not only so you don’t get arrested by the tax man, but also because serious investors place a higher premium on companies with tidy books and corporate governance. Abis is happy to provide advice in this regard, and there’s that saying about what happens when you ask for advice…you might get money :sunglasses: .

I hope this helps, especially for entrepreneurs at the very early stages of their ventures.


#9

You need certain ingredients to make a success of any business, to different degrees.

Everyone focuses on money, but money is like “icing”, you can put all the icing you want on amala, but if I don’t like amala, I still won’t eat it!

So we are all about great products and great teams and these are the areas we assist with. We have a pretty awesome network we draw from to make sure we can achieve more together. Then we put some “icing” on top!


#10

We want to see that the business has been able to earn $1 or 1 naira, this proves the concept.

Then we can help you scale. However it’s not a good sign if you have been in business for a few years with no traction…


#11

Abis, i know that you’ve worked with structural and financial issues at startups. In your view, where are the greatest weaknesses that companies have in that regard?


#12

Why stop at Africa?

We invest in businesses that can scale beyond Nigeria or Africa. Our first investment was in a software product that was sold in 22 countries, translated to 7 languages, with over 200k users! The founders were sat in Ikeja (Lagos) but they could have equally been based in Suriname (South America)!

We try to help scale businesses globally, however we have strong networks and relationships in Africa - so can do a lot more for entrepreneurs on the continent.


#13

Seems an obvious answer, but quite a few startups have no structure or idea about their finances. Perhaps these things are not a strength of theirs so rather than face it, they run from it…that road doesn’t end well!


#14

I have some time on my hands, so I’ll build on this response…

2 tips.

  1. you do not have to be an accountant to keep good records. One tip is to open a dedicated bank account for your business - no personal transactions except what you pay yourself! Your bank statement is then a clean record of your finances.

  2. “structures” are not there to constrain you. There is no one size fits all, but you need to look at a business…think of it doing 100x the revenue it is doing today, then figure out what you will want in place to make sure all that revenue doesn’t “leak” away!


#15

So let’s talk startups. At what point should a startup look for assistance from the likes of Greentree?

If the founder(s)/team is outstanding, and the product or service is solid; then you will have traction, and more importantly capital and investors will come and find you - not the other way around!


#16

Hello @Abis, thank you for being here.

I have three questions

  1. How do you determine “outstanding” founders/teams? I mean what makes a team “great”?

  2. How much traction is enough traction to get an investor interested in a startup?

  3. I get to see a lot of pre-seed investments of $20,000 nowadays. Assuming we have a team of say 4, how does one make a budget for such an amount?


#17

hi @utee

good questions, each deserves a separate post so here goes…

  1. what makes a team outstanding?

“Outstanding” is in the eye of the beholder…so I am going to list a few simple attributes I personally look out for.

a. Passion. Dangerous is the person who wants to get rich quick and at all costs! I look for a person or team that love and believe in their “product” more than they do money.

b. Smart founders; and by smart I mean those with an un-quenching thirst to know everything about their product and market, with the ability to listen and adapt quickly. A pilot or prototype is unlikely to be perfect on day one, but if a founder is a sponge for feedback and able to iterate efficiently, they should get to the promised land!

c. An inspiring leader. This isn’t just a function of the loudest personality in the room. There are many ways to lead, and a beautiful mind is able to earn respect from those around it.

d. Integrity and competence. A team with BOTH these traits will perform; however one trait without the other is simply a disaster!


#18

2 - how much traction is enough?

Investors operate at all stages, from concept to mature businesses - depending on their risk appetite, investment horizon etc

If a startup can show traction in a chart, this should get investors excited.

The trick to demonstrating traction is to be very clear on how the possibilities on the “y axis” are off the scale (this is the size of the market you operate in), and then to pick intervals on the “x axis” that make your growth look exponential. You can use anything from days to years…etc.

Startups yet to leave the drawing board, but able to attract investors; are usually set up by founders who have built a business before. “Traction” in this case is actually the individual’s “track record”.

The morale of the story for budding entrepreneurs is that whoever you are working for now, whatever you are doing; do it very well! This is your “traction”.


#19

3 - budgeting with $20k

Love is sacrifice. If a team loves and believes in what they are doing then they will not only stretch the $20k, they will even borrow, fight, scream and do all they can to push their life savings and more into the venture to top up.

A budget is the financial presentation of a startup’s plan, and having a plan is key.

Each member of the core team has to wear multiple hats - according to their relative strengths; and be paid only what they need to survive. Remember, love is sacrifice!

In the budget or plan, they must reserve enough money to aggressively push their product, and also to iterate and push it a second time!

That is how they get the traction they need on our way to the land of elves and fairies, and a few unicorns!


#20

This is golden, especially for future founders. Thanks @Abis for sharing