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Providing Strategic Guidance To Entrepreneurs And Startups – An Interview With Patrick Henry, CEO Of QuestFusion

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It is our pleasure to share this interview with Patrick Henry, the CEO of QuestFusion. QuestFusion provides strategic guidance to startups and emerging growth companies. Patrick is also an Angel investor, and manages a blog site focused on the specific issues and challenges of entrepreneurs. Patrick brings a wealth of experience to entrepreneurs from being a serial entrepreneur himself, having raised over $200 million in equity capital for his companies, and been directly involved in over $2 billion in M&A transactions. It has been a little over a year since the last time we spoke with Mr. Henry. He’s now been focused on advising startups and emerging growth companies for nearly two years.


Q: What are some of the biggest problems and challenges that you see with startups today?

A: Entrepreneurs, in particular first time entrepreneurs and technical founders, want to find the right advisors and mentors, but they don’t know where to start. They are so busy trying to implement their product plans and raise capital; they don’t have time to work with an advisor. They also don’t want to spend the money to retain an advisor or mentor, since they see this as taking away from product development, hiring, and marketing. They frequently hire board members or implement advisory boards, but don’t see the inherent conflicts of interest, or fail to use these boards in an optimum way.

One of the big challenges is that these entrepreneurs don’t understand the opportunity cost and efficiency loss in trying to re-create the wheel themselves versus learning from someone else’s experience. Many of them end-up giving away large equity positions in their companies to join technology incubators, and, many times, the mentorship is sub-par, or at least very expensive based on the equity given away, assuming their venture is successful.

I’m talking more specifically about having mentors and advisors that have more EXPERIENCE and domain expertise in your vertical markets, and getting council from advisors that have complementary and deep expertise in functional areas where you’re not an expert. An example of the latter would be a development engineering getting some advice from a marketing professional about product positioning and building a sales funnel. All great entrepreneurs have great mentors, just like all great athletes have great coaches.

Q: How have you addressed this challenge at QuestFusion?

A: I have really done a couple big things and a few small things. The first big thing is to focus more on communication strategy and marketing, versus broad strategy. There is usually budget in emerging growth companies in these areas, where there is more of a reluctance to spend money on executive coaching and company strategy. The second big thing is to launch virtual coaching. In this service, I’ve dramatically reduced the cost of my consulting services versus retained one-on-one coaching, while maintaining the quality of the engagement. In this service, I have developed a series of workshops that each last for weeks. Enrollment is open to the first 10 entrepreneurs, and in each of the workshops I deal with one of the six biggest challenges for entrepreneurs. All six things are interrelated, and they are all foundational for running an efficient and effective operation, insuring that you are on-track, and raising capital in a startup. The number of small things deals with my own communication and content marketing strategy to help entrepreneurs more clearly understand what I do, and why it is so valuable for them.

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Q: What are the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make in pitching to potential investors?

A: The biggest issue that I see consistently is too much focus on the product and not enough emphasis on the business. Most entrepreneurs want to spend 90 percent of their presentation talking about their product, or their solution. Investors want the entrepreneur to spend maybe 20 percent of the presentation on the product and 80 percent on the business.

Next, I think entrepreneurs typically try to pack way too much information into their presentations. They have too many slides and way too much content per slide. They also don’t have a good ability to go from the 30,000-foot level, to the 5,000 foot-level, to ground level, and back up, depending upon the needs of their audience.

Third, I think that many entrepreneurs don’t do their homework about their customers, their target market, their competition, and the business model. This results in a lack of credibility with investors, and a failure to get their deal funded.

These are all areas where QuestFusion can provide guidance and assistance entrepreneurs, especially with our virtual coaching workshops.

Q: I’ve seen that in your blog you’ve been talking a lot about various forms of financing for startups. What is the latest and greatest there?

A: Thanks for bringing this up. I think we are in the midst of a very dynamic and changing environment in how young companies will get funded. I cannot cover everything in this interview, but the role of Angel investors, venture capitalists, syndicates of Angels, and equity crowdfunding are increasing opportunities for getting funded, but also increasing risk of future financings if you don’t get things right. Entrepreneurs, even more than they have historically, need to look downstream at likely subsequent rounds of financing even during a Seed stage investment round.

Q: What do you see as some of the biggest business opportunities for the aspiring entrepreneurs out there today?

A: I think we are in a world where ubiquitous information, communication and multimedia are growing at an explosive rate.

This presents opportunities for more niche and focused social media platforms that will integrate seamlessly with the large horizontal social media platforms that are already in existence. I think there is also an emerging need for tools to manage social media for businesses, and capture the value of that social interaction. I also think that large established companies must move from having an on-line presence to having an on-line focus, and they will need lots of help doing this.

Second, the Internet of Things, as it applies to connectivity and communication, data collation, and data analysis within dozens of vertical markets is presenting a massive opportunity.

Third, there is an explosion of big data, with mass sequencing of the human genome being one of the biggest of the big data challenges. There is also an explosion of unstructured data, including massive amounts of video and still images that are being produced by businesses and individuals that have massive amounts of rich information if it can be mined properly.

Fourth, I think there is an accelerated set of convergence opportunities with life science and technology. This is really the application of software and systems to health, wellness, and medical issues.

Finally, there is a constant and real concern about all of this information being secure. All forms of cyber security are evolving from the core of the network, to the edge, and even into consumer devices.

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Q: What’s new with QuestFusion?

A: I think the most exciting new things for QuestFusion since that last time we spoke are virtual coaching, the membership section of our website, and an increased focus on delivering expert perspectives on a variety of topics that are of great interest to my audience of entrepreneurs.

Let’s talk a little more about virtual coaching first, and then we can cover the other two. What I’ve noticed in working with early stage companies is that they cannot justify the cost of retained consulting services when they are just trying to get their product off the ground. I’ve also noticed in my business that there is an inherent limitation with face-to-face consulting where I cannot scale beyond a certain point. Even if I were to hire additional consultants that have expertise in managing and growing companies, it is a model that is very difficult to scale. With virtual coaching, I solve both of these problems and can deliver very high quality information to clients in a very cost effective and scaleable way. We do this in a workshop format, where the entrepreneurs control their own time and work at their own pace, but still have access to a set of tools and processes, in addition to hands-on guidance from an experienced and successful entrepreneur. You can find more information about virtual coaching on my web site.

Second, even with the order of magnitude drop in cost going from retained consulting services to virtual coaching, some entrepreneurs don’t want to devote the time to virtual coaching sessions, and they want to take a more DIY approach. For these folks, I am making all my customized video tutorials, homework, checklists, tips & tricks, archive webinars, sorted and searchable expert and CEO videos, and special newsletters available for a very modest monthly subscription on the members’ section of the QuestFusion site. I open-up memberships to the QuestFusion site a few times a year. The next window opens in January 2017.

Third, I continue to give-away a lot of content for free including video interviews with startup experts and CEOs, my blog stories, and my free monthly webinars on key entrepreneurial topics. I try to make sure that my free content is better than what my competitors charge for. We recently published our 100th blog post on the QuestFusion site, and I have over 90 YouTube videos as well. I am also doing more contributed articles in publications like Entrepreneur and the Huffington Post.

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Q: You just published your 100th blog post and your 90th YouTube video. You also do a lot of contributed articles in publications focused on startups and entrepreneurship. How does this fit with the QuestFusion strategy and mission?

A: I believe content marketing, including blogs and vlogs, is a critical tool for disseminating information in today’s Internet age. This is true for all companies, not just QuestFusion. In my blog, vlogs, webinars, speaking engagements, social media posts and contributed articles, I work to impart my knowledge about the challenges of running a startup, and some of my solutions to solving complex problems based on my decades of running and managing emerging growth companies. Most of this content does not directly relate to services that we provide at QuestFusion, but it is still within our mission of providing strategic guidance to entrepreneurs and startups. You have to give some things away for free to establish credibility, authority, and thought leadership with your target audience, especially online.

Q: Any tips that you want to give the entrepreneurs out there?

A: I think the biggest tip I can give to entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs is to GO FOR IT! There has never been a better time in history to start a company and to make it successful. Just keep in mind that you should leverage your resources. Engage with knowledgeable and skilled advisors that understand your vision and support it. Engage closely with your customers. No business can be successful without customers. Keep your focus on adding value for them. Build the best team that you can, and execute like crazy. This means being willing to work extremely hard in addition to working smart. Stay passionate, optimistic and focused!

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