Pano Anthos is the Founder and Managing Director of XRC Ventures, an NYC-based venture fund and startup accelerator for entrepreneurs in the retail technology and consumer goods industry. Pano is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs through the early stages of brand building. Since 2015, his team has launched 100+ startup businesses and has built a vast mentorship network of influential industry leaders. Pano has served as a leader in multiple industries and has founded four digital media companies and software startups.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Pano Anthos shares the inspiration for XRC Ventures
- How does XRC Ventures structure its funding to help startups?
- The value of testing your product in the market — and the mistakes founders make when creating products
- Pano talks about the accelerator program XRC Ventures offers
- Why young companies struggle to hire talent
- Pano imparts advice to entrepreneurs wanting to start a business
- What entrepreneurs can expect from the accelerator program’s demo day
- The lessons Pano learned from starting his venture capital firm
In this episode…
Creating a novel business idea is the first step to owning a business. The process leading up to your business’ launch requires continued curiosity about consumer preferences and understanding who you are competing against. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs overlook these areas — a critical mistake. What can business owners do to optimize their success before launching their business?
Companies make the mistake of building products they assume their consumers would be attracted to without adequate audience research. Pano Anthos, a venture capitalist, advises entrepreneurs to produce a prototype and gather feedback on the quality of their product before sending it to production. Seeking advice from industry professionals is the most strategic way to solidify your product and receive funding to move your company forward.
On this episode of the Top Business Leaders Show, Bela Musits welcomes Pano Anthos, Founder and Managing Director of XRC Ventures, to discuss the common mistakes entrepreneurs make at the early stages of their careers and his advice on best practices for optimizing funding for their business. Pano also shares how his company structures its funding and the benefits of the accelerator program and demo day.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Bela Musits on LinkedIn
- Email the team at Rise25: email@example.com
- Pano Anthos on LinkedIn
- XRC Ventures
Sponsor for this episode…
At Rise25, we’re committed to helping you connect with your Dream 100 referral partners, clients, and strategic partners through our done-for-you podcast solution.
We’re a professional podcast production agency that makes creating a podcast effortless. Since 2009, our proven system has helped thousands of B2B businesses build strong relationships with referral partners, clients, and audiences without doing the hard work.
When you use our proven system, all you need is an idea and a voice. We handle the strategy, production, and distribution – you just need to show up and talk.
The Rise25 podcasting solution is designed to help you build a profitable podcast. This requires a specific strategy, and we’ve got that down pat. We focus on making sure you have a direct path to ROI, which is the most important component. Plus, our podcast production company takes any heavy lifting of production and distribution off your plate.
We make distribution easy.
We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.
Co-founders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90x, Atari, Einstein Bagels, Mattel, Rx Bars, YPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk, and many more.
The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.
Rise25 Co-founders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show. Powered by Rise25 media, we featured top founders, executives and business leaders from all over the world.
Bela Musits 0:14
Hello, listeners. I’m Bela Musits, the host for this episode of the Top Business Leaders Podcast, where we feature CEOs, entrepreneurs and top business leaders in the business world. This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help B2B businesses cultivate and reach their dream relationships and connect with more clients, more referrals and strategic partnerships to get your business return on investment through done-for-you podcast. If you have a B2B business and want to build great relationships, there is no better way than to profile the people and companies you admire on your podcast. To learn more, go to Rise25.com or email us at support@Rise25media.com Today’s guest on the podcast is Pano. Pano Anthos is the founder and managing director of XRC Ventures. Prior to starting XRC Ventures. He served in leadership roles for media, retail, consumer goods, and industrial companies. He also founded four digital media and software startups. Welcome to the podcast Pano.
Pano Anthos 1:33
Nice to meet you. Great to be here.
Bela Musits 1:35
Yeah, it’s exciting. So tell us a little bit about XRC Ventures.
Pano Anthos 1:41
Well, it was started in 2000, late 2015. Because of my wife, she had gone back to the retail world after many, many years of other jobs, and needed a part-time wanting to do some part-time work, keep busy. And she took over a store up in Wellesley, Massachusetts. And she had not been in a store. And as I said, 10s of years, probably 25 years. And when she came back after the first day of work, she said to me, I said how are you doing is everything okay? Imagine being out of the computer industry for 25 years, and then showing up one day, and it could be expected to be productive. You said that’s that’s unheard of right? It would never happen. She said, Oh, everything’s, I’m fine. I said, Well, how’s that possible? He said, nothing has changed. So that’s 25 years at least, have no change in the retail industry. On top of that I had already been following the fact that we were over stored by probably 50%. We have 50% more stores than we need. In the US at the time. Amazon was still the e-commerce provider for target. Can you imagine that? Amazon was the e-commerce platform for target back then. And no one took Amazon seriously or mobile seriously. So when I saw that, you know, I have a history of being early, sometimes too early. And I can always walk you through that, that both positive and negative out of that. But this time, I decided that being early could be really exciting by investing really, really early in a specific category. You know, there’s an accelerator world, there’s Y Combinator, which is just, you know, the 800 pound gorilla, that they’ll put money into everything. There’s TechStars, which creates bespoke accelerators for individual corporates, you know, around different categories. But no one was doing retail and consumer really, and I thought, this is an area where it’s going to be massively disruptive. corporates are going to be really shaken their boots. And it’s a great time to invest and invest really, really early giving, knowing that it’s gonna take time for some of these startups to mature and have their impact. That’s how I got started. I raised a bit of money just to get started. And and, you know, now nine funds later, we’re rocking and rolling 18 people full time on the team. We’re having a lot of fun.
Bela Musits 4:04
Yeah. So did you have a background in private equity?
Pano Anthos 4:07
I had run I’ve been involved for startups. No, I was on the other side of the table. And I watched how I was treated by private equity, venture investors, some well, some not so well. And I realized that I could apply my learnings as a founder and provide small amounts of capital knowing that, you know, I couldn’t make a mess of a small amount of capital, and then provide a lot of coaching and expertise around this around these companies. Yeah.
Bela Musits 4:38
So you provide predominantly precede funding,
Pano Anthos 4:41
first money, often often the very first money coming in. So we have many examples where we’re the first dollar
Bela Musits 4:48
first check. And is that convertible debt or is it always equity?
Pano Anthos 4:53
It’s safe notes. You know, Y Combinator came out with a simpler structure. As you know, a note requires repayment for 10 require repayment. We don’t recall, we don’t ask for payment back. So that’s what the safe the difference on the safest.
Bela Musits 5:06
Yeah, yeah. Now one of the challenges in being an early investor is that chances are the company is going to need additional money. And so do you participate in the follow on rounds of investing as well.
Pano Anthos 5:22
So in 2019, we actually set up an opportunity fund, which literally is the opportunity to continue to invest in the winners, and roughly 65% of the opportunity fund investments. We raised about a $20 million fund as a follow on fund first fund. About 70% have been accelerator companies that have gone on to further success.
Bela Musits 5:44
Oh, excellent. So you run your own accelerator as well? Is it a virtual accelerator or a physical accelerator?
Pano Anthos 5:51
Well, it used to be entirely physical, and then COVID, hit and then went entirely virtual. And now it’s whatever you want to call it hybrid, we actually have our demo day on the 13th of June, where it’s a physical day at Parsons, downtown Fifth Avenue and 13th Street, and everyone’s invited there on its online, it’s a big party, we’ll have about 15 startups presenting now across different sectors, health care, consumerization, health care, consumer brands, retail technologies supply chain. Now. So we are both physical and virtual nature of the world today.
Bela Musits 6:25
So if I’m a budding entrepreneur, and I’m thinking about starting a business, right, I have more than just an idea. You know, maybe I have some notes scribbled out on a pad, maybe even the skeleton of a business plan, how do I engage with you and and take me through those steps? Yeah, I would
Pano Anthos 6:46
say the most important thing to do first is make sure you’ve talked to enough potential customers of what you’re building, that you are convinced, and that they are convinced that you should build this. It’s not really about me, or our team, or our investor base, it’s about the customers and the consumers who would be using this product. If I could share one observation, I have seen the probably the largest startup reason for failure is a lack of real understanding of what the consumer wants and needs. You know, we tend to project what we want and need on others. Sometimes that works. Often it doesn’t. And it doesn’t, because we don’t listen carefully enough to the consumer. So the first thing I rule of thumb is, show me some evidence or proof that you’ve got enough consumers wanting this product. And even if the product is even poorly built, the first version that they’re so excited about, they can’t wait. Version two comes out.[continue to page 2]