FINDING THE FUN IN FUNDING
Although I have set up and sold companies in the past, I always learn loads from the funding phase of a new startup... Here are my top learnings from our funding conversations in the first few months of VIDA.
1) Finding funding is brutal yet one of the most integral parts of any startup process, often shaping the company itself. As we pitch the VIDA vision, we have been able to get feedback from potential investors that has informed and confirmed many of the decisions we are making at the start of building our company.
2) There are no short cuts and sweat equity is the best way to start. I'm a firm believer in the idea of sweat equity as presented by angel investor Jason Calacanis in his book Angel. He talks about how, in order for a startup to be investable, founders have to be able to show resilience and to begin growing a company without funding. My experience on our journey is that a savvy investor is looking at this commitment as part of the package they are investing in.
3) Keep it simple, stupid! We've taken a no-nonsense approach to talking about VIDA. This has helped us talk to both media-savvy investors and those with less knowledge. Ditch the jargon.
4) Offer a multi-dimensional business model. Investors have been pleased that we aren't relying on any one media business model to make a return, but we have explained it in a simple and easy to understand way. Musician and activist Charles Mingus said: “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.” I keep this this in mind as we talk through our business model.
5) Tell a polished short story in presentations. Within a presentation, telling the story of a business successfully, with a narrative that conveys all your passion, and all the fun, feeling and emotion of your business can be challenging... So being very clear about the 'why', 'how' and 'what' of a business is essential and you must tell it as you would a story. Humans love stories. And remember investors are humans! The right investor will be your new #BFF.
6) Be prepared – research the person you are pitching to, know their background, be interested in them and what they do, like, invest in etc. I found out from Linkedin that a potential investor we were presenting to was connected to one of my previous investors. What a great ice breaker.
7) You’ve got to take a punch in the face and be able to get back up, dust yourself down and keep going. That’s business and if you can’t take it you’re not investable.
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