Peter Dragone's avatar image.

I am a co-founder of Keurig Inc. (now Keurig Green Mountain)

My name is Peter Dragone, I have spent the past 20 years working with a wide range of start-ups and turnarounds.

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  • How do you decide what startups you wish to be involved with?

    What information do you look at when you're considering joining a startup team? Do you need to see very specific cost information or other specific details on the project?

    Peter Dragone's avatar image.

    I continue to catch up with questions and yours is among those that have languished for many weeks. I have been working with a number of start-ups these past few months, so your query (I say with some irony) is timely.

    Over the years I have been approached by entrepreneurs of all stripes, pitching products ranging from cannabis compliance software to scientific instruments to poultry byproducts. For the most part, these have been first time entrepreneurs, more enthusiastic than experienced. I enjoy the energy they bring, the more so nowadays as their investor decks are invariably more professional than those of just a few years’ ago. The bar has definitely been raised.

    Accelerator programs, boot camps and resources like LivePlan have helped entrepreneurs get assistance, get organized and get going. I now see more plans that meet the basic criteria established by angel groups as a prerequisite for their consideration:

    ▪Market Opportunity: $200+ Million▪Problem Solved: Demonstrated Customer Pain▪Breakthrough Product or Service▪Actionable Plan, Use of Proceeds▪Competitive Advantage (IP)

    You’ll note that I have left off the usual angel investment criteria concerning the strength and experience of the management team. As I mentioned above, I often meet with inexperienced entrepreneurs. They may have no relevant industry experience. Since I had no prior coffee or appliance industry work history when I started Keurig, I don’t view such inexperience as a fatal flaw. I do, however, look for entrepreneurs who recognize their shortcomings and have plans to address them. (How? Through critical hires, work with outside consultants, and meetings with board members and their contacts. . . just to name a few possibilities.)

    I like working with entrepreneurs who listen, who are still seeking answers. I enjoy seeing plans evolve as market conditions change. I enjoy most those teams that are looking to work collaboratively rather than those that are hoping simply to add a name to a passive advisory board.

    It takes time to make these judgements. I often meet or speak with founders various times before deciding to work with them. It’s a time consuming process, one that continues to delay my postings here on Wiselike. Thank you for your patience and good luck with your own (evolving) plans.