Have you ever gone on a hike before? Maybe a short 5KM hike or 1,800KM hike? Whichever one it is, they both have similar challenges including loneliness, comparison, time, and gear failure. Now, take some time to think about fundraising like a hike. Do any of these challenges sound familiar?
Of course, they do! But just like any hiker would know, a good number of these challenges can be managed. Fundraising can be a very challenging process that takes up time as well as effort for start-up founders. Finding the time to manage both scaling your startup and looking for funding opportunities to consistently roll out products/services and give your target audience the best of the best has never been easy but there are always ways to handle these responsibilities effectively.
3 steps to guide your fundraising process
Here are three steps that founders should take to get the most out of their fundraising process.
- Make use of all possible resources for learning and growth.
- Invest in the start-up essentials.
- Take time for yourself.
1. Make use of all possible resources for learning and growth
As a startup founder, you’re actively learning and seeking resources to help you know what you need in the capacity of funding. You ask yourself questions such as “Should I first bootstrap?” “When do I reach out to a venture capital fund?” “How do I know what investor to approach and when?” During this time in funding, it is important to actively use your physical and online resources to help you advance and know what to do in various situations to stand out even further to investors.
For example, find out what venture capital firms or people invest in companies in your industry, research these investors and learn everything you need to know about them to be prepared for their expectations. Moreover, you have to be able to differentiate yourself from other people in your industry. Find resources be they human or technical that’ll create a significant gap between your start-up and others which will ensure you build traction and revenue in that market. Fallory found that research is the best tool entrepreneurs can use, especially researching businesses similar to yours that have been active for longer than 5 years.
2. Invest in the start-up essentials.
For a start-up, the essentials include- your team - all the way from your founder to your directors and employees; your business model; your network; your approach and let’s not forget, one of the most important aspects, your pitch deck. If you can ace these key areas, your work as a start-up becomes a tad bit easier to survive and thrive in the funding process.
A Winning Pitch Deck
Why is a pitch deck so important? Isn’t it just a presentation? Well, unfortunately, it isn’t because this is the presentation that holds the answer to “WHY YOU?” Investors look for start-ups that are not only product-market fit but those that are solving a problem that society needs to redefine or even build as a whole. At From Here Ventures, we call them “Systemic Painkillers”. Solving a problem that makes you indispensable to an investor’s opportunity and communicating that through the pitch deck makes it harder to say NO. Think about it. Why would they say NO? And with it being harder to say no to your company, because of such a winning pitch deck, the funding process begins to look more feasible.
A start-up’s team informs an investor enough to know whether they should finance your business. A team that shows success is one where everyone is aligned with the company’s goals and not their own individual goals. In a study done by The Entrepreneur, they found that 23% of startups mentioned team issues leading to failure. From there, the investor can sense a good synergy and partnership in how the team communicates with each other.
At the same time, the passion, experience and skills each individual brings to the team are quite a big determinant in everyone carrying out their responsibilities, so even while the company is looking for funding, day-to-day activities are meant to still be going on. An investor will be more impressed by a team who ensures business can still go on and provides real progress.
I’m sure we all know the saying “Your network is your net worth”. One of the most valuable things to do as a founder is spend time networking, connecting with other founders in your industry and searching for the right people to meet who can help position you in the start-up ecosystem. More often than not, cold calls and random emails to investors will only take you 10 steps back as you fundraise, but with a network of companies or persons vouching for you and your company, doors open!
3. Take time for yourself
It is easier said than done to encourage a founder and a start-up team to take time for themselves since the industry is fast-paced and no one wants to be left behind.
In 2019, Jake Chapman wrote that “The most brilliant and creative amongst us are sometimes the most troubled, and nowhere is that clearer than in the entrepreneurial ecosystem”. As mentioned earlier, the journey of fundraising can be very lengthy and may sometimes even take a strain on the mental and emotional capacity of the founders and/or the team because of the rejection, the back and forth with investors, and the balance one needs to create for their start-up and their personal lives, nonetheless, we encourage everyone to take a break often.
Creating an atmosphere of rest whether it’s through a hike, a swim, taking a couple of days off, going to see a therapist or even going for dinner with friends, whatever feels like a form for rest, DO IT! This will in turn restructure and maintain focus for the founder and/or their team.
Needless to say, funding will always be a challenging process but there are always going to be the little things that can reduce the pressure and the efforts especially when you properly put in the time to prioritize them.
From Here Ventures
We are an early-stage venture capital fund that deploys capital and beyond monetary support to seed and pre-seed companies. We offer a deep, intrinsic understanding of how things work in Africa and have established ourselves within local networks granting us access to the best deals, the most exceptional founders and the most transformational companies.
At From Here Ventures, we use 3 different approaches in how we choose startups to invest in. Our pillars are centered on:
- Infrastructure plays - A problem that isn’t just wanted to be solved but needed; a case where it makes sense to have it;
- Human well-being – Does the startup ensure the well-being of their target audience is their core thesis?
- Gender balance is the start-up company’s core value within its team.
To learn more about what we do, visit our website here
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