Pop Quiz, Monday with Peter Cowley

As an early stage investor, back people and not tech nor markets. Walk away from an entrepreneur that doesn’t listen. My book (Invested Investor) gives many many other examples.

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Peter Cowley

Peter Cowley
Photo credit: Peter Cowley

What is your job role?
Numerous – Dad, entrepreneur, very active tech investor, President of the European trade body for early-stage investing (EBAN), non-exec on nine startup boards, etc.

Tell us about your company?
I have co-founded a company with my younger son: The Invested Investor to share my and many other entrepreneurs’ and angels’ war stories to help startups may less mistake.

What do you love most about your job?
People! I meet and learn from so many passionate, driven, knowledgeable people from all over the world — most younger than me. All are intending to improve something somewhere.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
People! And the learning that goes with meeting and helping them. But I don’t class my life has anything to do with “work” – I am lucky enough to enjoy everything I do, although I am pretty over-committed. For example, I am writing this at 8 pm on a Sunday night whilst vacation in Central America. But I wouldn’t swop my life for anything.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
Apart from my son, I really don’t have co-workers.. I “work” with hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors every year. I learn so much from interacting with them

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
Again, with 23 distinct roles and the fact that I don’t “work” I don’t need to create fun – life is fun, anyway!

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Struggling to say no. I love helping people and have a soft spot for helping novice entrepreneurs. However, I have cut my incoming deal flow from well over 1000 business plans a year to less than 100 (I invest in less than 10/year) by asking all leads to me to come through someone else – a trusted colleague. It may seem a little arrogant, but I have never invested (out of 67 investments) in a deal that came in the cold, and if the entrepreneurs can’t hustle to get at me, they will they make a good team?

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
As an early stage investor, back people and not tech nor markets. Walk away from an entrepreneur that doesn’t listen. My book (Invested Investor) gives many many other examples.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
Whether an entrepreneur or an angel, learn from others – by reading, using podcasts, by networking. But in the end, the real learning comes from trying and making mistakes.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

Publishing project: https://www.investedinvestor.com/
My website: https://www.petercowley.org/

Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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