Miguel Henriques is the president of the Portuguese Federation for Business Angels’ Network (FNABA). FNABA has 17 affiliate clubs, including the Lisbon’s Business Angels Club which is now celebrating its third anniversary. We met with Miguel Henriques for an interview where he talked about entrepreneurship, the kind of investment business angels look for, and the participation of women in business. Mr Henriques has had a long experience in the creation of new enterprises in the IT, energy, health and service industry.
“Entrepreneurs have to believe very much and be obsessed with their project. Then they have to be very resilient because being an entrepreneur is very difficult and is something that you are permanently being knocked up in your face.”
Miguel Salvado: We’re here in the Lisbon Business Angels’ club where startups are presenting their ideas. Tell us a bit about it.
Miguel Henriques: Today, we celebrate the third anniversary of the Lisbon Business Angels’ club. The Lisbon Business Angels’ Club is one of the affiliated of our federation. I’m the leader of the Federation for Business Angels Network, we have 17 different business angels as our affiliates and the Lisbon Business Angels’ Club is one of them. We’re celebrating its third anniversary, so we have a full afternoon dedicated to business angels and the projects. One of the highlights of the event is what’s happening just now behind us, which is the pitches, by over 10 startups. Then we will have a matchmaking between investors and entrepreneurs.
“The entrepreneur has to know his or her business. He really has to know who else is doing what in the market.”
So then investors ask questions and there is a follow-up meeting between entrepreneurs and investors?
Yes. That will be more informal and entrepreneurs will approach the investors, or investors can approach the entrepreneurs as well. Not only the ones that have been presenting, but other entrepreneurs that are here as well. We’re tagged with different colors, so we immediately know who is whom by the color of the badge.
“We look for global entrepreneurs. We don’t believe in local projects.”
One thing we want to know is, as a business angel, what kind of traits do you consider important for an entrepreneur to have?
Entrepreneurs have to believe very much and be obsessed with their project. Then they have to be very resilient because being an entrepreneur is very difficult and you are permanently being knocked up in your face. And of course, perseverance in the sense that they can never give up their idea, their project, the will to go forward with it. I think this is crucial. Another thing is the entrepreneur has to know his or her business. He really has to know who else is doing what in the market. Another thing we look for is global entrepreneurs. We don’t believe in local projects, we want them to be global.
“I think that not just for startups but for any company, and certainly in the early stages of a company, it’s not good that they are overfunded.”
You want projects to be scalable?
Absolutely, we want them to be worldwide, we don’t talk about exports or internationalization. We talk about global projects. This is what we look for.
Do you think an entrepreneur should have a god complex? Is it a necessary skill for an entrepreneur to have?
It depends on what the concept means exactly, I believe that they have to be confident about the project, about themselves, their ability to take the project forward. But they have to be humble at the same time and they have to listen a lot, which is something not all of them do.
“If companies are overfunded, they will spoil money I’m sure about that, so bootstrapping is always the best strategy.”
Do you think it’s detrimental for a startup to get funded too soon?
I think that not just for startups but for any company, and certainly in the early stages of a company, it’s not good that they are overfunded. So when they are funded in a very early stage that can be detrimental, I agree with that. Even when they grow and they need 50 million, if they are overfunded with 100 million, they will spoil money, I’m sure about that. Bootstrapping is always the best strategy.
If you could sum up in a sentence a good piece of advice to young entrepreneurs, what would you say?
I would tell him or her that his or her project is the best and they can’t think otherwise. They can’t think that it won’t happen because it will happen in one form or another.
“We see more and more women [in business] and we believe that they bring to the projects something very special and important.”
At the web summit, the participation of women was extremely high. How do you feel about the participation of women in this kind of events?
This is a very good thing about this club because it was founded by a majority of women; the president was a lady. In all the other business angels networks there isn’t a single lady. The participation of women is very good news, and I think this has changed a lot and now we see more and more women and we believe that they bring to the projects something very special and important.