Gaining Perspective from Ray Walheim

In our Entrepreneurship Practicum, teams work hard to discover and work around all the challenges that face a start-up. As college students, we understand the importance of finding resources and people who can help build our new ventures to be successful. The perspective that Ray Walheim provided was that of an investor. As someone who transitioned from Law practice dealing with new start-ups to the actual start-up scene itself, Ray has come a long way and understands the positives and negatives of the investor-investee relationship. The reality, Ray explained, is that most of these ventures are not going to end up being extremely successful. There are numerous factors that lead a company from the start-up phase to a market leader, and throughout, all of the working parts must be in unison. A ton of capital or a great product does not necessarily guarantee success, but the combination of these two as well as prudent leadership, will lead to success.

Ray then moved on to the topic of Angel Investors. His in-depth knowledge and experience really provided the class with major insights. Speaking plainly, Ray explained the dangers that angel investors take, as they are often those who are involved the earliest. This means a lot of work and providing capital as well as guidance. The reality is that most of these companies will fail to return the initial investment. This is why it is important to have a portfolio of companies, so that the odds are stacked that despite most of the companies failing to return the investment, the chances that one of them ends up being the major success are greater. The angel investor is not the only one who is taking the risk here. Giving up a significant amount of your company early on is obviously risky. With many of these angel investors being potential friends and family, the relationship can also be complicated and strenuous, ultimately being detrimental to the company.

Overall, I think Mr. Walheim was extremely informative, while keeping an open dialogue with the students to keep the session engaging. His experience in entrepreneurship provided the students a reality check in the sense of what it takes to be successful. With major issues and stiff competition in today’s market, Ray urged us to think outside the box and find our competitive advantage.