606Tech.com were nice enough to ask for an interview about Advisor Garage, here’s the article:
Advisor Garage is a company that was founded for Entreprenuers by Entreprenuers with the hopes of growing opportunity for both ends of the business spectrum–the experienced and the start-ups. With Advisor Garage, those looking for advice, funding, capital and mentorship can find the resources they need to guide them in the right direction when it comes to starting their own company from the ground up, or taking their fledgling company to the next level. Advisor Garage also grants those that have been sucessfull participants in the industry a chance to help others, stay abreast of what’s going on in the business world, and invest in ideas they believe are worthwhile.
I recently had the opportunity to meet with Andrew Makunas, founder of Advisor Garage.
What’s the story behind Advisor Garage? How did it come to be?
Advisor Garage came about through one of those typical ‘Aha’ moments that most Entrepreneurs experience. Having already started two companies, I well and truly had the bug! There really is nothing like starting a start-up. The one hesitation from company number three wasn’t an idea…they pop along like buses at a bus stop– it was ‘Do I really have to pull all those resources together again, all those different people that can help me find the cash, develop the product, those first few customers, set up the company and so on. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an online service that connected me to those people in minutes rather than months?” Aha, Company number three – Advisor Garage.
What is the purpose of Advisor Garage? What problem does it solve?
The purpose of Advisor Garage is to bring entrepreneurs and young businesses together with great business advisors who have significant experience in getting VC and angel funding, closing customers across different verticals, marketing on a shoestring (or even a big) budget, the IPO track, you name it. From day 1 we were focused on creating a secure and confidential service so Advisors could meet, evaluate and engage with Entrepreneurs with some anonymity and decide to get involved based upon the real value of the concept or young business.
Let’s face it; experienced and successful business people don’t like to get ‘out there’ too much because they have limited time and don’t like to be harassed. Advisor Garage gives them the ability to find and evaluate great ideas, and as all communications are private and through the system, they can commit when they are ready. Advisors can search for a range of great opportunities in the market, without exposing them so they can gain equity in hot companies, share some of the lessons learnt over a successful career with the next generation while maintaining their privacy from the crazier, irrelevant ideas.
Likewise, Entrepreneurs can search Advisor Garage for the ideal advisors for today’s need or problem and likewise, Advisor Garage will be there for them for tomorrow’s need or problem too.
For example, Advisors & Entrepreneurs have a ‘My Advisor Garage’ which includes a one click ‘Not Interested’ or ‘Interested’. If the person reaching out to them is not interesting, click the ‘Not Interested’ and Advisor Garage send a polite but firm email telling them so.
The advisors that participate in your program; how do you find and gather them?
Advisors come from multiple sources: our founder attended Harvard Business School and we have some pretty fantastic alumni across multiple industries, for example, something like 60 – 70% of the Fortune 500 include Harvard alumni on the Exec team. We have reached out to many of them and asked them to join Advisor Garage, and quite a few have.
Another big source of referrals are Advisor recommendations encouraging other quality advisors to Advisor Garage. It also helps that the Advisor Garage team has been through multiple start-ups, so they already have a pretty good network of contacts across the venture capital community, angel investors, business people, and so on.
Lastly, we encourage our 250+ entrepreneurs to refer others – its amazing how powerful our own network can be–and Advisor Garage helps people leverage their own network because as more people sign up and refer others, it bring more great people into the community. Much easier than the coffee shop referral drive by meetings most entrepreneurs are used too…
How would an advice seeker best utilize your service?
That’s easy…Sign up, create an elevator pitch and go searching for an Advisor that can help you with today’s need – Funding? Customers? Sales Plan?
How are the relationships developed between advisors and advice seekers?
Entrepreneurs can search for through Advisor’s pitches across multiple categories (Fundraising / Sales / Technology / Operations / and so on)
Advisors can also search through Entrepreneur’s elevator pitches.
If either side see a pitch that looks interesting, they can reach out to that person via Advisor Garage.
How will Advisor Garage grow?
Advisor Garage will grow if it continues to add increasing value to Entrepreneurs and Advisors. We have an aggressive development plan which means we will be bringing more and more tools and functionality to members so Entrepreneurs can speed up the launch of the startup and Advisors can find more and more exciting companies to work with and perhaps gain equity in.
Seeing as growth is somewhat dependant on the willingness of users to refer others to Advisor Garage’s services, could it be considered a necessary viral growth of a different nature?
Being viral is something we actually worry about…we want ‘word of mouth’ rather than viral. Advisor Garage is all about quality rather than quantity – for us, the value of the site is the quality of the candidates so do we want viral? No. Do we want referrals? No, we NEED referrals. We are three people who want to make something happen for other entrepreneurs and for Advisor Garage. We have no, and I mean ‘NO,’ marketing budget so it has to be all about the customer experience and members realizing that they get value if they bring other quality people like themselves to Advisor Garage. We are actually discussing with our members if, at some point in the future, we should cap membership, so we only bring onboard recommended Advisor & Entrepreneurs when someone resigns from Advisor Garage. The decision isn’t close to being made yet but it really is all about quality – the right Advisors and the right Entrepreneurs who will change over time rather than everyone on the planet. So Advisor Garage is the about the right entrepreneurs and Advisors working together to create the next generations of world class startups. ”
Interview by Kristen Nicole, 606Tech.com
For the Article: http://www.606tech.com/fullarticle.php?artid=344