When you’re working for a startup (or creating one), there are plenty of conversations about how one should impress an investor or what an investor is looking for. Well, it just so happens that we know an important investor and fellow entrepreneur. His name is Zalmi Duchman. He’s an Angel Investor and Founder of the successful business venture, The Fresh Diet. In addition, he’s one of Buddytruk’s trusted investors. When Zalmi isn’t busy helping companies grow, he’s providing tips/insight by guest writing articles in various publications including Forbes. Zalmi has so much knowledge to share, I thought it would be awesome to catch up with him and pick his brain a little.
BUDDYTRUK: You’re a well-known Angel Investor and Entrepreneur, how did you get started in this world?
ZALMI: I wouldn’t agree that I am well known yet but I am definitely making myself known. Bootstrapping and growing The Fresh Diet gave me a lot of experience as an entrepreneur and the platform to really put myself out there. I’ve had great success garnering publicity for my brand and that has led to great opportunities for me as an entrepreneur and ultimately as an angel investor. I started investing in startups a few years ago when I invested in a friend’s startup called Deals Near Me. Unfortunately that first investment didn’t get anywhere but it taught me a few good lessons that has already helped me in other investments.
BUDDYTRUK: Tell us about “The Fresh Diet”.
ZALMI: The Fresh Diet is the nation’s largest fresh meal delivery company. We deliver three meals and two snacks daily to our customer’s doorsteps. Our clients use the service for weight loss or lifestyle goals or just for the overall convenience of having delicious freshly prepared meals in their home. I founded The Fresh Diet back in 2005 because I was tired of working for someone else and wanted to be my own boss. Luckily my good friend and chef, Yosef Schwartz turned me onto the concept and I ran with it.
BUDDYTRUK: Entrepreneurs are constantly reading to get an edge on the competition. What are you currently reading that is helping sharpen your skills and why?
ZALMI: I find that while I used to read business books (my favorite is “Good to Great”), now I am mostly reading current news and blogs. I make sure to stay on top of all the different industries I am invested in and want to know, in real time, the latest news within each segment. I also really like Medium to find interesting entrepreneur stories and of course Forbes where I am a contributor. I also use Product Hunt to stay on top of current trends and new startups.
BUDDYTRUK: You invested in Buddytruk. What was so special about Buddytruk that drew you in as an investor?
ZALMI: I was very excited by the “Uber of X model”. I had thought about many different business ideas within the “Uber of X model” but never pulled the trigger of starting something myself. When I heard about Buddytuk I wanted to invest immediately. With the way the world is moving I saw a massive opportunity for using the Uber model within short hauling. I look at Buddytruk as a much bigger idea than it is today. I see it turning into the Instacart for Home Depot, Ikea, Costco, Target and more.
BUDDYTRUK: What do you look for in your investments?
ZALMI: The most important thing for me is the entrepreneur and his (or her) team. As an entrepreneur myself, I truly understand the value of the entrepreneur being more important then the idea itself.
BUDDYTRUK: We’re sure you’ve gotten a lot of amazing advice over the years. What’s the best business advice ever given to you?
ZALMI: “Tracht Gut Ven Zein Gut” is a Yidish phrase that means “Think Good and It will Be Good” this is the motto I live by and it has been passed down over the generations in the Hassidic community that I belong to.
BUDDYTRUK: What’s the worst?
ZALMI: I can’t point to any specific bad advice that I got but I have dealt with many naysayers over the last 10 years. I think you can always find people that will tell you that your ideas or dreams will never come true. But I learned that the best thing you can do is smile and prove them wrong.
BUDDYTRUK: Some see investing in startups as a risky business but you’ve lent your support to the startup community. What attracted you to that?
ZALMI: I am naturally a risk taker, someone that had a lot of experience in casinos and sports betting. So, for me its easy to get passed the “risk factor”. For someone not so adverse to high risk, I think they need to look at angel investing at what it is… a roulette table.
BUDDYTRUK: What can people/businesses do to best attract investors? What tips can you offer?
ZALMI: The most important thing for any entrepreneur to know is that they need to be upfront from day one when dealing with investors. I have seen so many new entrepreneurs exaggerate their numbers thinking that this will help get investors interested but then when the truth is exposed (and it always is) they will lose the investor in a second. The best thing is to be upfront about your challenges. Its more important than the good things you have going on with your business.
BUDDYTRUK: What tips can you provide for people investors looking for more opportunities?
ZALMI: It’s easier now then ever to find investment opportunities for angel investors. Thanks to the startup act signed in 2011, crowdfunding is just starting to come together and will bring even more opportunities. I think Angel.co is a great tool for someone looking to get started in angel investing.
BUDDYTRUK: Thank you for chatting with us! Where can people find you online?
We greatly appreciate Zalmi taking the time to speak with us and sharing his insight into the world of investing and entrepreneurship. For all of you entrepreneurs out there, we hope you found his tips helpful.
Do you have your own tips on what impresses investors? Starting your own business? Leave your comments below! We’d love to hear from you!