Startup Fundraising Advice: Flex Deadlines, Build Community, Embrace Vulnerability
Talk to any early stage startup and fundraising is guaranteed to be one of their biggest concerns. It was certainly top of mind for the pitch companies at our San Francisco edition of FoodBytes! in March. We brought together a team of industry experts from equity crowdfunding platform Republic, corporate VC fund manager Touchdown Ventures, FoodBytes! alum Sugarlogix, and Rabobank’s equity private placement team to share advice, making for a diverse mix of key industry perspectives. Here are the most valuable pieces of advice shared through the session.
Take emotion out of the equation for smarter decisions
Brett Kadesh, Senior Associate, Touchdown Ventures
As an entrepreneur, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with your new company, the brand, and your carefully crafted mission. However, it’s a business and that means making decisions about the term sheets with a practical hat on. The same rule applies when it comes to advice. Opposing opinions aren’t always easy to hear, but they shouldn’t be taken as a personal attack. Financiers will be looking at things from a very different angle, with fresh perspective and an objectivity that you might be too close to see. It’s important to try to take advice as it’s meant, rather than from an emotional perspective. This could make your burgeoning enterprise better, stronger and more financially sound.
Be realistic about timelines (hint: everything takes longer than you expect)
Chaeyong Shin, Co-Founder &CEO, Sugarlogix
Early stage startups are fueled by hard-working night owls, so it’s not surprising that most believe they can accelerate things if they double down and work even harder. The reality is some things are simply out of your control and business plans will almost always need to take other people and processes into account. Try not to get frustrated. Use the time to do other things that can work in tandem with other people’s timescales. Don’t put yourself under unnecessary stress by squeezing deadlines you can’t influence.
Build and maintain your networks to create a supportive community
Matt Melbourne, Business Development, Republic
Starting a business is one of the most exciting journeys you’ll ever take, but it can be a lonely experience if you don’t make friends and find a community that can offer support. Every new business faces similar challenges, and if you can sidestep common pitfalls by talking to people who are happy to share their hard-learned lessons, you can save a lot of time, money and effort. In addition, you can find creative ways to cross-collaborate with your peers, offering exposure to new audiences. It’s also worth remembering that the connections you make today might be more useful to you in six or twelve months’ time. Don’t write people off just because there’s no immediate common ground. Time spent building relationships is an investment, and you’ll reap the rewards if you make the effort to get involved in business and social events where like minded entrepreneurs, corporates and investors meet, talk and share experiences.
Understand where your business can fail and mitigate risk
Roderik Bronkhorst, Equity Private Placements, Rabobank
Highlighting where you’re most vulnerable might sound like something that could put an investor or corporate partner off, but knowing where your business model has the potential to fall over and how to overcome known issues shows a good understanding of your business, the market and your competition. That’s valuable information for investors and demonstrates initiative and foresight on your part.