First AngelsJa | 'We’ve delivered on our promise and now we're in business, finally' - PT2
This is Part 2 of our feature on Billodex Limited, which allows for the purchasing and redemption of digital tickets via smartphone, and the assistance they received from First AngelsJa to do so.
The app in action
Billodex Limited's first client was the promoter behind the annual Powerful Men and Women Perform for Charity event, hosted by the Mustard Seed Communities.
D'Andre Fraser noted that there were a few minor glitches at the outset, but nothing that stopped the app from working. With their background in event planning and promotion, coupled with their ability to sell their product, Billodex already has a number of other promoters lined up to work with them.
That ability to sell both themselves and their idea is what D'Andre credits as the key to the duo securing two rounds of investment in such a short space of time.
"Investors don't invest in the product, they invest in the people behind it." he said. "It couldn't have been the product, because we didn't have one. We only had some JPEG slides and an idea. But we've built the product that we sold to them. We've delivered on our promise and now we're in business, finally.
"There was no way we could have self-financed this," continued D'Andre. "We believed that this was the right way to go, approaching First AngelsJA, and not just because of the money, but the expertise behind them. We have a world class board of directors. So far, they've been advising us what to do and what not to do, because you can get all the money in the world, but you won't know how to use it and spend it efficiently. In entrepreneurship, there's no such thing as knowing everything. We've been learning ever since."
Guidance needed for young businesses
D'Andre recalled that in the early days, one of the board members even offered to invite them to his house for one entire Saturday so they could work on rebuilding the app from scratch. This kind of personal investment, along with key governance structures, have been critical to Billodex's development thus far, giving the young entrepreneurs and their team a broader vision for the company and how far the app can go.
One prospect that exists for any successful app developer is the chance that his product might be snapped up by some major tech giant, turning him into an instant millionaire. D'Andre wouldn't be averse to going that route "If somebody comes along and says they want to acquire us for a number of zeros," but that is not their end goal. "The first thought is to keep your head to the ground and not bank on something like that happening. At the end of the day, we just want to move forward and see how far we can push this platform, how far we can push the idea and the vision," he said.
Based on what angel investment has done for his company, D'Andre would like to see more seasoned businessmen and businesswomen step into the void to provide guidance to entrepreneurs just coming up. "There are a lot of captains of industry throughout Jamaica. If you've reached the top of the mountain, in order for the younger ones to grow, you have to share the knowledge instead of letting them try to figure it out and spend 10, 15 years trying to start a business," he said. "It can be seen as a form of giving back. Being an angel investor is much more than just making profits, it's about giving back and helping someone to add something to society and, by extension, improving the economy."
Angels for the technology industry
In speaking for his industry, D'Andre pointed out that there are many great ideas and products with potential that have been developed, but the lack of a clear vision and proper guidance and governance prevents entrepreneurs from really capitalising on their creations:
"That's the biggest help any entre-preneur can get from an angel investment, guidance. That's even more important than the money, because you can get an investment of a billion dollars to build a company, and then run out of cash. You might build the company, but with a little expertise and guidance, you could have used only 10 million and still been successful. Guidance is key."
His best advice to other entrepreneurs who may be looking to secure angel investment, particularly his fellow techies, is to ensure that their ideas, or products, are well researched, and if built, done well. Keeping abreast of information on competitors is also a good idea. "Know and understand the value that your product can provide to the market. Know your numbers. If you can't do your financials, why would anybody want to give you their money?" he questioned. "When you're pitching to investors, you're not only pitching the product, you're pitching confidence. Be confident in your product, and be confident in your numbers."
D'Andre is confident Billodex will continue to grow as online ticketing becomes more popular in Jamaica and the Caribbean. "Our product is finished just in time for that wave," he said. "Also, the vision doesn't stop here in Jamaica. We intend to do our first event in Trinidad about six months from now."