We talked to Akram El Youssi, founder of InstaVal, about funding startups, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Akram El Youssi: Hi Edyta. Thank you for having me. My family and I are doing just fine, thank you for asking.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded InstaVal.
Akram El Youssi: I’ve been in the finance & investment industry for over 20 on the buy and sell sides – Across the board, forex, equity capital markets, structured finance, private equity, and investment banking. During my time within private equity and investment banking, I observed how entrepreneurs were underserviced in funding their businesses. I have instructed countless transactions in millions of dollars worth of deal value in different industries and verticals. With this experience, I felt the duty to share with entrepreneurs quality advice at cost-effective prices.
I went on and founded a boutique advisory firm to solve this problem, but although this practice was successful, it was still not efficient and clearly not scalable. This was when the idea was born to codify domain knowledge, leverage it with workflow automation, and power it with artificial intelligence to help founders to get funded at scale. This was the genesis of InstaVal.
How does InstaVal innovate?
Akram El Youssi: InstaVal’s innovation is built on leveraging technology at the service of the promotion of equity investments in startups and scaleups, and so the platform offers founders three core values :
- Discover Business Valuation
Get a defensible business valuation at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods by leveraging investment & financial domain knowledge with data-driven technology.
- Get Deal Ready
In addition to the company valuation report, the platform offers all the investment expertise, advice, and resources that founders need regardless of their level of financial knowledge to prepare key financing documents. It then provides them with an investment data room to allow them to share investment documents and engage with investors seamlessly.
- Get Investor Matched & Engage
After the data room completion, the proprietary platform algorithm shortlists the most relevant investors for the founder to then apply to and track progress in real-time. To date, the platform lists a committed community of over 500 investors from the MENA region and beyond.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Akram El Youssi: Being a SaaS Platform, we were less affected than other brick and mortar models. We’ve actually anticipated working-from-home for a few years already, as we’ve invested in processes and tools. And so, we didn’t suffer from change that much.
But we are aware that some businesses were not as fortunate as we were. More than ever in the context of Covid19, startups need capital to be successful or survive.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Akram El Youssi: Fortunately, we didn’t have to make any difficult choices. On the contrary, in the last few months, the platform has had a lot of traction with the addition of staff bringing the full-time team up to 9. Furthermore, we have launched an internship program that has welcomed a dozen young finance and marketing talents.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Akram El Youssi: We moved to an online customer relationship management process using a combination of google meet, calendly, WhatsApp, and our CRM to ensure that we could provide a personal experience to our clients without being face to face.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Akram El Youssi: No, I did not benefit from any government grants.
Your final thoughts?
Akram El Youssi: Humanity has reached an age of abundance of technology, entrepreneurship, and capital. Our ambition is to actively contribute to the paradigm change of the early-stage financial intermediation for future generations.
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