Dr. Rob Robinsion, a leading authority and top selling author on angel investing and early stage technology startups shares with us his view on entrepreneurship, venture capital and investing in early stage companies. He explains the most effective way to approach an institutional investor and breaks down what is most important.

Avoid the common mistakes that many unknowing entrepreneurs make. We also talk about the success of recent IPO and Hoku Scientific.

Some of the questions asked:
Can you tell us a bit about the PACE program and how it got started?

Can you tell us how the Case Foundation helps the UH business plan competition?

Can you give some success stories from the UH Business Plan Boot Camp?

Can you tell us about the UH Angels and what they do?

Can you explain how a VC operates and how they get compensated?

What’s the difference between an angel and a VC?

What’s their average investment amount?

How does an Angel get paid?

Can you give examples of companies that the Angels have funded and why?

What’s the process for an entrepreneur pitch the UH Angels (UHA)?

What types of businesses do they invest in?

What are they looking for in a business?

What’s the ratio that UHA will invest in?

How do you determine who can pitch the UHA?

Can you talk about why Hoku Scientific was able to go public in 4 years and other companies didn’t?

What is a fuel cell and why is it important?

How does Act 221 now known as Act 215 affect the business environment in Hawaii startups?

What’s the outlook for Hawaii companies?

What community organizations or non profits are the companies that the UH Angels are involved with?

How has this affected their bottom line?

How about yourself, are there non profits that you are involved in?

How has that helped your business?

What was the hardest negotiation that you’ve been involved in?

Any advice for today’s young business person?

Robert J. Robinson was born and raised in Durban, South Africa. He attended the University of Natal, Durban, graduating with a B.Commerce in 1983, majoring in Psychology, Business Administration, and Economics. In 1984 he completed a BA in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at the University of Cape Town, and in 1987 obtained his MA at the University of Cape Town. While working on his MA, he was employed as an internal consultant and facilitator at ESKOM (the national electricity utility), where he was involved in a huge turnaround project, being personally involved with job redesign, quality programs, and culture change. In 1987 he co-founded Work and Life Change, a management consulting company, before leaving for Stanford University, where he completed a Ph.D. in social psychology in 1991, specializing in group conflict. From 1991 to 2001 he was on the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2001, Dr. Robinson was a visiting professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management before accepting the position of Barry and Virginia Weinman Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and E-Business at the University of Hawaii, College of Business Administration. At UH, Dr. Robinson is also executive director of the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship and E-Business (PACE2). He is married to Eileen Donahue Robinson, Ph.D., and has three sons, twins Colin and Andrew born in 1999, and Graham born 2003.

Dr. Robinson teaches in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Negotiation, and Management. He helped develop the required first year MBA course at HBS called Negotiation, which emphasizes negotiation and decision analysis, and the development of negotiation skills; and a second year MBA elective, Entrepreneurial Negotiations, which examines the challenges facing entrepreneurs on issues such as finding and forming partnerships and contracts, negotiating for funding, and harvesting or cashing out. He taught other required MBA courses at Harvard including Organizational Behavior, Leadership, Data, Decisions, and Negotiation, and a doctoral seminar entitled Social Behavior in Organizations. Dr. Robinson was a faculty member of the Harvard Program on Negotiation (PON), and taught in executive programs there, at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (Effective Decision Making and Strategies of Executive Influence), and at the Harvard Business School (Program for Management Development). He consults actively to industry, covering topics that include negotiation skills and analysis, decision-making, conflict management, group dynamics, and managing change. He served as co-director of the PON project on Psychological Processes in Negotiation, has authored numerous academic and business articles in the fields of social cognition, negotiation, conflict analysis, and ethics, and has been awarded several international academic writing prizes, including the Academy of Management (twice), and the International Association of Conflict Management (twice) Best Paper prizes. In 2001, his 1995 seminal paper on NaÔve Realism was selected by the Academy of Management as the Most Influential Paper Published in the Field of Conflict Management and Negotiation, 1993-1997.

In addition to his academic writing, Dr. Robinson has an active applied research program, with his various works centering on issues of negotiation and conflict. His major current project concerns hi-tech startup companies and their entrepreneurial negotiations, covering the gamut from negotiating with potential partners for equity, negotiations with venture capital firms, and selling or taking the company public. Recently, he is the author (with Mark Van Osnabrugge) of Angel Investing: Matching Startup Funds with Startup Companies — The Guide for Entrepreneurs, Individual Investors, and Venture Capitalists (2000, Jossey-Bass). In 2002 Dr. Robinson founded UH Angels, a Hawaii-based angel investor network which mentors and invests in startup firms. Dr. Robinson has also published on legal and health issues in the workplace.

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