Yes, you read correctly. And if you’d like to be one of those investors that know what they’re talking about, understanding how it all works under the hood, it is of utmost importance. Let’s talk about timing and investments, and how this is a game of sentiments, shall we?

Timing and investments, a game of sentiments

Unicorns and Dragons

Investors and startups are creations of a fantastic world. Well, not literally. But bear with me. If you’ve ever been at an investors’ congress you must have heard a few magical words, here and there. There is always someone they’ll call a “dragon”. There is also one or two startups, or scale-ups rather, which they’ll call “unicorns”. Oh, yes. These creatures of worlds of magic.

Odd as it may seem, we’re still talking about investments and business. Let me explain.

Dragons, in myths and legends, are the most powerful beasts. Flying over battles, breathing out fire and overwhelmingly turning events to their favor. Or the favor of those in their charity. In the times of kings and warlocks, such was their power.

Unicorns, were unique creatures of extremely rare and great magical power. These blindingly white horses with the majestic horn coming out of their forehead like an extension of their mind, a connector to divine power, they had it all. Beauty, uniqueness, power, knowledge. And befriending one, would surely make you look like you had “the secret weapon to rule them all”.

Why investments happen

Now, investments happen for a reason. One could say the whole thing works under a different god. Money. Initially this may have been true. True as daylight, even. But life and circumstances change people. And they, in turn, change life back. That’s a nice little vicious circle for you, right there.
At some point in time, people realized they have the power to change the world in ways they had never thought before. Change how other people go about their every day activities. How they solve their problems. How they become more effective. In essence, how they get busy… living.

What a great breakthrough!

Ideas that changed the world

A few people, most of which we’ve all heard or read about, came up with what is considered a “million dollar idea”. An idea that solved a problem in such ways that had the potential of making them millions in revenue. And they went on to realize their idea.

Paypal, E-bay, Google, Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, Uber are only a few of those “million dollar idea” companies that succeeded in reaching or exceeding their goals.
And, sure enough, they made millions out of them. But, why is that?

Could it be merely because they dared to attempt such an endeavor? Or because they were persistent at it? Maybe because they knew something others didn’t?

It could be all or none of the above. One thing is for sure. There is more to it than meets the eye.
Anyone that has started a business with a goal, measuring their progress and trying to make heads or tails of the entire process, have sooner or later come to the same conclusion. No matter what, “time” is the most valuable commodity.

The most valuable commodity

I can understand your wonder at this statement. Everyone is in it for the money and the freedoms it can offer. Not for time! Yes, of course.
But that’s not really the issue here, is it? You can either validate or invalidate my suggestion for yourselves and, more importantly, by yourselves. Easy as pi.

It is, essentially, as easy as going back to your progress reports for a quick look at your graphs.

Your revenue graph can surely attest to small or large deviations that illustrate increase or decrease of income over time. You can make money or you can lose money.

Your website traffic chart will most definitely demonstrate great increases or decreases in visitors, great peaks or valleys, over time. This means you can gain visitors and customers, or you can lose them.
Your product can do well or it can do as bad as a rotten banana. Your business, the same. I suppose you can feel where I’m getting with this.

Time does not fluctuate

Time, on the other hand, only diminishes.

We can never have more time. Only less of it.

I dare say, everything else is a hack we use to convince ourselves that we can, somehow, have more time than others do. I hope you can see through this. And I certainly hope you can deduct that were it not for time, none of these charts aforementioned would be possible.

Time is the most precious commodity!
We have to use our time wisely. Time may also be the reason of our success or our failure. Let me elaborate.

Time is a beast even fiercer than dragons.
It cannot be controlled. At least not by any current standard. People have tried to control time throughout history. And we are still at it! Because we can understand its value. So, what can we do instead? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Time has soft features we may be able to tweak or bend, to our advantage. Not all hope is lost then, is it?
Onwards we go!

Time heals

We all know this one. Time will offer us eventual clarity of thought and serenity to heal ourselves from an ordeal.

Time passes

And that’s how we grow. It’s how we gain our wisdom. Those moments past, they hold knowledge and experience. They hold sentiments and reactions. Essentially, they hold a whole arsenal of tools for us to keep on going. That’s what this white hair you pulled out of your head this morning was all about.

Time can be invested, too!

Oh, yes! You need only take into account habit-forming products or services. Take a SaaS product for example. When people invest their time in a product or service you’re building or have invested in, they put in the effort to create valuable information that will help them solve a problem. So, there you have it!

Time… happens

Yes, exactly. I went there. Time happens… when the time comes. Time is a succession of moments that are loosely connected to each other. Their purpose is to bring you from one milestone in life to another. If you learn to anticipate the next big moment in the sequence, that’s your ticket! It will be like bringing an armored tank into a dart war.

Game on! Let’s invest

By now, I’m sure you’re wondering how on earth to achieve that. Well, as I said, investments are a game of sentiments. You need to feel your way through time. You need to train yourselves to sense when the right moment is coming. If you can read your addressable market, you’re on your way to hit home run. You can call yourself an investor.

When people need something really bad that they would do almost anything to have it; when technology and circumstances allow you to generously offer it, cheaply, quickly and efficiently, go for it! Eventually, when they can – eyes watering – instantly understand its value, no questions asked and you are ready to offer it just in time, you can call yourself an entrepreneur. And that’s part of the startup strategy.

By the way, this wondrous feature I keep rambling about, has a name. It’s called timing. You knew that, of course. But did you really? Give it a moment to seep in. Alright, what’s next?

Oh yes, timing

Time passes to never come back. Cherish good moments and difficult moments alike. They all have something to offer. But how things come to happen and when they happen, will immensely influence your perception of each and every moment in time. And the lessons you learn from them, as well. The difference is merely the timing.

What a wonderful concept, timing. When used properly, the gains you can reap from it are beyond imagination. Unpredictably delightful. Like a magic trick or sleight of hand. Life just gets a whole lot more interesting.

To understand the importance of timing, just consider how a good or bad timing affects your daily activities. How it influences your habits. Even at a subconscious level.

Bad timing

Let’s start our day with something unexpected. Suppose you wake up, only to realize you forgot to replenish your coffee box with a new batch of roasted coffee beans. That’s a start without your favorite beverage. Getting a bit grumpy, are we?

And then you have to commute to work. Doesn’t the time you choose to commute affect the state you’ll be in, once you arrive at the office? I bet it does!

If you get the 08.30 shuttle to the subway, there will be too much traffic. You won’t be able to find a seat and everyone passing through where you’re patiently standing, will bump onto you. Or unwillingly swing their shopping bags at your leg, crumpling your so carefully ironed outfit. Now, your mood is at stake. Or is it?

Then you take out your book to read a few paragraphs and forget about this whole charade. But wait! You’re in this district of town now, where there is an insane amount of traffic. And you realize it’s taking too long to get to the subway. Trucks delivering products to every other store. Traffic lights taking forever. It’s madness! How can you live in this town?

By now, your mood is a total train wreck. You’re stuck with this lousy grumpiness for the rest of the day and it doesn’t help you concentrate or be productive.

Good timing

Here’s a tip for you. Try to miss the 08.30 shuttle, on purpose. Go to the store and buy some coffee, to go. Take the 09.00 shuttle. Most people will probably have arrived at the office by now. There is no more traffic on the streets. There’s more than one seat available for you on the shuttle. So, you can enjoy your book without distractions. The trucks have delivered the products and are now off to new adventures, elsewhere. That just saved you some irritation, right? You made the trip to the subway, in a jiffy. No time lost. Ten more minutes and you’ll be at the office. What a splendid day it seems to be! You’ve now arrived and your mood is in ship shape! And, as a bonus, it seems you’ve only checked in 5 minutes later than a colleague that lives near your home and got the 08.30 shuttle.

Now, you’re in a great mood. Nothing really went wrong this morning. You started by solving problems, instead of sustaining them, and your day started with a much better flow. You’re not grumpy about anything and your productivity should be great, since you have no distractions. That has to count for something, doesn’t it?

This time around, you can invest your time doing better things than just trying to cope. Imagine what this choice of timing could do to your life, if only you could tame it. But wait! You just did, didn’t you?

Timing and investments

That’s it then. Timing is, after all, crucial to how things will turn out. The value of your investment in a product or service, or the value of a customer’s investment to your product, they all depend on the timing you’ve chosen to get things moving. The success, or failure thereof, of your startup or your investment in one, also partially depends on timing. Because, as mentioned, timing will affect your perception of everything.

Although timing and investments are – to an extent –  interrelated, ultimately, it is timing that will help you unveil the secrets to scaling up your startups. And draft out an optimal marketing strategy.

What about sentiments?

Every choice we make is, more or less, affected by our mood and sentiments. Timing and investments alike. We tend to trust a gut feeling more than we do science. That’s an absolutely human thing to do. And it mostly happens when we don’t have enough information to make a well educated choice. But, isn’t that what investing is all about?

How the game of timing and investments works

Investors do business. Even Angel investors. When a startup comes to them, investors need to find a way to evaluate everything before making any commitments. Here comes valuation. That’s a way to evaluate everything, but also put a number on everything (valuate), just to keep a healthy perspective over the situation. There are at least a handful of documented methods to valuate a startup at any stage. Each, does it from a different standpoint. And for good reason.

Here are a few of them by name:

  • Scorecard Method
  • Venture Capital Method
  • Berkus Method
  • Risk Factor Summation Method

Eventually, it all comes to the investors’ gut feeling. Based, of course, on their grasp of what the startup is and where it seems to be heading. Oddly enough, this practically qualifies as a 5th method to valuate a startup. All in all, this is a difficult decision, involving a great deal of risk. But that’s part of the game. The game of sentiments. This process will give investors the necessary insights to optimize their timing and investments.

What now?

As for you, you can try to use these soft features of “time”, to your advantage. And see what happens. That’s timing and investments for you.

All things considered, there is still time. And there are still investments to be made. What should you do? Well, get started then! Time’s a-wastin’!


Panagiotis Sarantopoulos Panagiotis Sarantopoulos

Studied Science of Computing at the University of Huddersfield in UK, specialising in Animation for Multimedia Systems. He has worked as a Multimedia Author for IBM Hellas and as an Adobe Certified Instructor and Support Technician for Adobe Systems software at Anodos SA. He has also worked at various Advertising Agencies, as a Web/ActionScript developer.