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UOWD research reveals that investors value integrity over ideas

Thursday, 22 January, 2015

A long-term study from the University of Wollongong in Dubai, Zayed University and Emirates Aviation College reveals that global investors are more likely to invest in individuals with integrity, willpower, commitment and passion than those with a good business plan alone.

A study by a team of researchers from three universities across the UAE has revealed that entrepreneurs who display integrity, willpower, commitment and passion are more likely to gain funding from private investors than those who have a sound business plan alone.

The research by Melodena Stephens Balakrishnan (University Of Wollongong in Dubai), Ian Michael (Zayed University) and Ionica Murtaza (Emirates Aviation University) found that 99 per cent of investors view integrity as either extremely important or very important when it came to selecting which companies or entrepreneurs to back financially. 94 per cent saw willpower or commitment to the business as an important factor, with 93 per cent agreeing that passion for an idea also held sway. Investors also valued the strength of a business’ team and their willingness to learn. Interestingly, just 54 per cent of investors deemed a company’s existing relationships to be either extremely important or very important when it came to backing businesses.

The team of researchers presented their findings at the recent AIB MENA (Academy of International Business Middle East and North Africa) sponsored social entrepreneurship workshop held at the University of Wollongong in Dubai. The group first began researching into factors that influence investment decisions in 2010 supported by a grant from the Abraaj Group, and have since gathered evidence from almost 100 renowned venture capitalists, angel investors and private investors from across the globe.

Commenting on the findings, researcher Melodena Stephens Balakrishnan said: “Of course a sound business plan is of importance when seeking investment from venture capitalists, angel investors and private investors. However, overwhelmingly the individuals that we interviewed agreed that this wasn’t the most influential factor when deciding how funding should be distributed because business plans are fluid and ideas are easily copied as soon as a product goes to market. Instead, investors place great value on the personal brand of the entrepreneur – if they project certain traits and values, they are far more likely to get funding. Many of the investors involved in our study agreed that one of the first factors that come into consideration is “Do we like each other?” and (they) put their faith in the person or the team behind the idea first and foremost, with the idea itself often taking second place.”

Entrepreneur Mona Tavassoli, Founder and Director of Mompreneurs Middle East and MomSouq, who attended the workshop added: “In my experience the entrepreneur behind a business is one of the most important factors in gaining investment. Entrepreneurs who demonstrate that their motive it isn’t just to make money are often the ones who show the qualities that investors are looking for – like integrity, passion and willingness to learn.”