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Failure is held up as a necessary stepping stone to success – and with good reason.

After all, how can anyone know how to run a business properly before they have actually done it?

If they are fortunate – and intelligent – they can learn enough to keep the business going until those pieces of knowledge fall into place.

“I think for any first-time founder, the business is built on delusion. There’s no experience there!” Connectd CEO Roei Samuel tells TechBlast.

“The first time I founded a company I was totally delusional. I was a 22-year-old kid, I thought nothing could go wrong – it was going to be an absolute unicorn… and then you realise that pretty much everything that can go wrong probably will go wrong at some point.

“Year one is just about belief: ‘This is gonna work – of course it’s gonna work!’ And then obviously, as you grow, you then can build off experience.”

Samuel, a half-Hungarian half-Scottish entrepreneur, exited that business – a fan-oriented sports media and content creation platform, RealSport, which built up millions of monthly active users – to Gfinity PLC in March 2018.

Now aged 30, he has invested in around 15 startups himself over the last four years. His Connectd platform, headquartered in London, helps startups, investors and advisors make and manage meaningful connections. 

Launched in February 2020, it has brought together more than 1,000 startups and over 1,000 investors and business advisors fostering more than 20,000 connections in over 10 countries.

Failures and burnt bridges

“The experience of having built an exited company helps, but I’ve also had quite a few failures – in the sense that a couple of startups I invested in did not do well. There is no better teacher than losing quite a lot of money!” he says.

Connectd, which is free for investors, operates through a subscription-based model and has grown on average 16% every month since its launch. In the space of just over a year, its team has grown to 40 personnel working across the UK, India, Sweden and Poland.

Founders benefit from a reporting suite which they can use to drive insights about their business, deliver those to their internal teams and keep their existing investors in the loop. They can also build a short window or concession stand for potential new investors. On the investor side, it has developed a portfolio management system named ConnectdPortfolio.

ConnectdLegal, a tool designed to help both founders and investors establish their essential legal documentation without incurring expensive fees, has recently been added to the offering.

“I find – having made this mistake myself before – that if you get access to an investor, but you don’t know what is meaningful to that investor, you can burn that bridge forever,” says Samuel. “We wanted to give them something which helps them understand ‘this is how you present your information… this is what’s important to them’. 

“When you are having conversations, it is then much more meaningful than giving them some terrible pitch they don’t want to hear so they don’t pick up the phone again. 

“It’s really wanting to upskill and give everyone the tools that they need to go and have these conversations, wherever they might be – on our platform, networking events… we want to give people the basis for understanding what ‘good’ looks like.”

The kids are alright

The company recently secured a further £1.2 million in seed funding to expand into the European market with a new office in Sweden. 

“We’ve got an average age of probably 24-25 in the company –  people just four, five, six years younger than me are worlds apart in terms of how intuitively they adapt to new technologies. 

“It’s scary to see these young entrepreneurs coming through! There’s a lot of positivity with the youngest generation – and a lot of opportunity there as well.”