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CEO Secrets: 'Ask your investors for a yes or no'

By Jeremy Howell
Business reporter, BBC News

Published
media captionDrummer-turned-entrepreneur Ryan Edwards: 'Ask your investors for a yes or no'

Ryan Edwards can remember the exact moment in a London shop when he was inspired to start his music-logging venture, Audoo.

He had been the drummer for British rock band The Lines, who had a 2010 top 10 hit called Domino Effect.

"I was actually in one of the really popular department stores on Oxford Street," says Ryan. "I was with my wife. We heard my song. She said, 'So you must be getting paid for this?'

"I said, 'I must be, but I don't know how much. I've got no idea.'"

Ryan discovered that the system for tracking public performances of music has always been very patchy. It is often the case that unless venues such as pubs, shops and restaurants make the effort to report the music they have played, no-one charges them performance fees. The artists who created the music miss out on potentially tens of millions of pounds a year in royalties.

image captionRyan Edwards created Audoo following on from his computer science studies

Ryan used his knowledge of the digital sector and data science to design an electronic system called Audoo to put into venues, which logs the details of every song they play. It's being used by the performing rights bodies of several countries, which collect the performance fees and distribute the royalties.

Ryan says his biggest challenge when he started the company was to persuade investors to fund the development of the Audoo system. He met many people who said they believed in his business idea but who hesitated in actually handing over their money.

"Some converted very quickly and they almost made the decision on the spot," he says. "Then there were others that face-to-face said, 'Fantastic, we love what you're doing. We absolutely want to invest in this.' And then they'll wait for two or three months."

The problem with these hesitant investors, he says, is that they can hold up the business if they do not come up with their promised funds at vital points in the project, such as when extra staff need to be hired.

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"If you have an investor that needs to give you a decision," says Ryan, "there is nothing wrong in asking them for a yes or a no."

He says he has often taken blank agreement forms to meetings with investors and offered to fill out the details on the spot.

"I'm very clear with them exactly how their money is going to be used, why we need it at that period in time, and exactly the date that we need it to happen by. Always give that justification to say yes, we really, really need this right now."

All this may sound very demanding for an entrepreneur who is asking investors to hand him their money.

"The trick," says Ryan, "is to be assertive but never to be rude."

Read more CEO Secrets here.

Related Topics

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Music

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