At a Glance
Name: James Olden
Current job: Founder, Director and CMO at multiple firms
CV – Backed companies and main role in them:
As a founder: Cafécreate and H2O Markets
As an investor: PeerReach, TopTradr, Referr and Undrip
Other interests: Ironman….
FinSMEs: Hello James, thank you for joining us. Firstly, how long have you been an investor?
James: “5 years”
FinSMEs: What kind of business do you back?
James: “Innovation. It sounds cliché but that is what I invest in. My investments generally focus around three key areas – Endorsement, Recommendation and Referral. With the need, desire and ability to communicate remaining at the centre of all we do, I believe that there is massive potential for ventures who have the ability to harness and measure engagement within an increasingly social and agile market place“.
FinSMEs: What do you like to see in an entrepreneur and the company’s management team?
James: “The entrepreneur must inspire me, I have to believe in him; completely. If the founder’s values are creditable, the most impressive people will inevitably be drawn to work for the company“.
FinSMEs: How do you assess the quality of people?
James: “Assessing a venture is relatively easy, but people are different, and if I’m honest, my best method of assessment is to simply follow my instincts. I work closely with the people I invest in and as my role is to take their drive and determination and amplify it, it is critical that they are able to deliver what it is they present. A good idea is as important as the entrepreneur behind it“.
FinSMEs: Which other characteristics do you like to see in companies?
James: “Foresight, I don’t want dreamers, I like planners. When I am investing the team is all important, but so is the ability they have to progress, adapt and deliver revenue. At the end of the day, as an investor, I’m there to make money – yes I want to share in the process but there needs to be an end game, a payday“.
FinSMEs: What don’t you want to see when an entrepreneur approaches you?
James: “Thinking you are more investable because you have had some near misses – you’re not. I may be an entrepreneur but I’ve yet to accept the idea that failure is a necessary step in the development of a new venture – it isn’t. If you believe your idea is worth the time, energy and cash, then you have to accept that the only one dictating its outcome is you, a near miss, is a failure. Yours“.
FinSMEs: How do you try to bring value to the company you invest in?
James: “I have spent many years working with established brands. I help start-ups capture the essence of what makes them different, giving them greater growth and market potential. With my background in marcomms and branding, I can offer a range of support and help define everything from a strong value proposition, to a brand, or campaign launch. I communicate a business’ excitement and values to an audience who is ready to listen – I amplify“.
FinSMEs: Which is your latest investment?
James: “My latest is UnDrip. We are currently working on an amazing promotional video which has cameos from some of the biggest names in the industry – both founders and VC’s. Watch this space! http://undrip.com/”