Here are a few lessons I picked up raising our seed round for Amaliah.co.uk. [All the investor quotes are genuine but anonymised].
1. Don’t be put off
Investor: “I simply believe that what you are doing is going to fail”
Everyone will have an opinion. Not everyone you meet will understand what it is that you are trying to do. As long as you know, that is all you need.
2. Know what words are sexy
AI, Fintech, VR = Sexy Words 😍
E-commerce, advertising = Unsexy 😷
3. Don’t pander
Don’t say things just because you think that is what they want to hear, don’t be defensive. Stand for something. There are a lot of situations during the fundraising process where your character is being tested.
Investor: “Do you think the startup is far enough along and the methodology is solid enough for this work? It sounds really hacky?”
Me: “Yes we are hacky right now. We are experimenting.”
Investor: “Hacky early is good :)”
4. Don’t take shit
It is so easy to screw yourself and your company over because you are scared to push back. ALWAYS PUSH BACK. Again, a lot of the fundraising process is about you showing the strength of character.
Whether it is the vesting period for advisory shares, the valuation, taking on a late entry investor or getting an offer you don’t like.
Investor: “I know it’s late, but there is another angel who wants to join the round… He’d like to come in on same terms so you’d need to either release some of your equity or reduce options”
Lawyer: “We’ve rounded down the figures, so you will be getting £118 less in the round over all.”
Me: “Round up. We have worked hard to raise every single pound.”
5. Don’t bullshit
Seriously. I always thought to make your way through the world of business you had to have that slimy salesman persona and bullshit your way through. Be honest. Investors aren’t stupid (maybe some), they can see straight through your nonsense, they will spread the word too.
Investor: “What’s your five-year revenue projections?”
Me: “I could give you a figure, but honestly there is no point, they are just numbers in a spreadsheet projected to go up.”
6. Don’t assume
Me: “I haven’t heard any thoughts from you re the deck and cash flow I sent you, so I’m going to presume you’re not compelled enough.”
Investor: “I haven’t had time to look properly yet.”
Most investors are just crazy busy. I’m still waiting for an intro that someone offered to make off their own back from 2 months ago. I know he will make it, he’s just busy.
7. Don’t keep anyone in the dark
If you have a change in your deal, CALL all those involved and all those that have committed to the round. It’s not going to be as bad as you think it will.
8. Don’t feel like you need to entertain everyone
When you are fundraising you are giving away a part of YOUR company, it has come into existence from YOUR hard work. Just because someone can write a cheque, it doesn’t mean you need to hand over all your numbers and information. One of the biggest things I realized is that money is everywhere, don’t feel like you have to take money from an investor just because they are offering it. Turn the tables and ask why should I be letting YOU invest. Too often founders feel like we have to be performing monkeys just because someone has more zeros in their bank account than us.
picture courtesy of #WOCinTechChat
Some Lessons From Fundraising.
Some Lessons From Fundraising.