There can be no doubt about it: this is the golden age of entrepreneurialism. Thanks to today’s advances in technology, successful entrepreneurs are researching the market, finding ways to address needs profitably, and marketing their products and services to the world faster and easier than ever before. Zayd Ali, CEO and co-founder at FISH, is currently developing some of that innovative technology. FISH is building a “one-stop-shop” networking platform for the startup ecosystem that smooths the path for aspiring entrepreneurs and connects them with interested investors.
Meeting the networking needs in the startup ecosystem
Ali has been enamored with the startup space for years. After selling his first company, he began contemplating a way to plug into the ecosystem. What he saw was hundreds of tools all solving different problems.
“The whole ecosystem was overwhelming and fragmented,” Ali recalls. “Match-making and fundraising tools were oversimplified and incredibly transactional. They struck me as forced and never seemed to work. Communities were being formed on all sorts of different social platforms, but meaningful relationships and interactions were difficult to forge. Traditional networking platforms like LinkedIn and e-mail were a black box of inactivity.”
Ali took his ideas for a startup platform back to the drawing board, taking time to think over the foundational needs the startup ecosystem would always require. In the end, he decided the platform’s utility boiled down to three inescapable needs for founders, and three for investors.
“Founders will always need faster fundraising, better networks, and more meaningful interactions with their users,” he says. “Investors will always need better deal flow, more access, and increased visibility.”
Ali set out to design a new-and-improved platform to serve the startup ecosystem. His goal was to meet each of these needs while enabling founders and investors to discover each other easily through conversational and casual relationships.
Bridging the gap between startups and investors with an app
FISH is a platform aimed at increasing the opportunities and frequency of interactions between investors, founders, and the broader startup ecosystem. “We are poised to become the social platform for the startup world,” explains Ali. “People will find co-founders, advisors, friends, roommates, hack houses, events, founder retreats, users, employees, and investors on FISH. If you can increase the opportunities, the probability, and the frequency of the people with ideas interacting with the people with the money, the world becomes a much better place to live.”
FISH provides the social network where all of this interaction can take place. As he designs the platform, Ali thinks of the investors as “gatekeepers” and the founders as “path walkers.”
“A social network for the startup ecosystem increases interactions between the gatekeepers and the path walkers,” he comments. “By facilitating interaction between these two groups, you increase the potential for new ideas. Some of these ideas will ultimately change the world, and this platform helps build them.”
Obstacles to overcome in the startup space
There have long been a multitude of issues when it comes to entrepreneurs fundraising for their ventures. In Ali’s opinion, many startups fail because they attempt to increase their output, which often is manifested as a funded company. However, they are not intentional about increasing their inputs, such as ideas, feedback, conversations, and relationships.
Investors and founders are aligned on the outcomes they want to see; both want to fund more life-changing ideas and see the impact of those ideas in the world around them. “What we’re doing differently is creating a digital space where this ecosystem can build together — not be forced together,” remarks Ali. “When founders work by themselves, they view their ideas like a square with four sides. Those founders can only see four sides, but what if they talk with four angels who view that idea in a whole new way? As the founders and investors have conversations, offer feedback, and build relationships, the idea grows into a shape with many new sides and angles. This interaction is what ultimately turns ideas into venture-backed companies.”
FISH creates a space to focus founders and investors on inputs such as ideas, conversations, and relationships. This input enables an entrepreneur’s output to grow exponentially. “Think about the world we could live in if we increased the opportunities for these conversations to happen,” imagines Ali. “It’s all about collaboration, building community, discussing, and iterating. The more interactions you have, the better the world becomes. We are burgeoning the next era of exponential creation by reducing the friction and space between those in the startup world. The positive externalities of sharing ideas, feedback, and building community in space synonymous with innovation are incalculable.”
This ground-breaking app, FISH, is within days of launch. The pre-launch community now boasts over 150 users with thousands more on its waitlist, and has already yielded over 40 booked meetings. Currently, members are connecting through platforms such as Slack, but all of that networking will happen on the platform when FISH goes live.