Fundraising can take two very different paths for founders and their businesses. It can be a struggle that lasts many months, with hundreds of investor rejections. Or, it can be a much swifter and more efficient process that produces wow results.
Check out these tips for optimizing your fundraising strategy and getting the capital you need on time.
Stay Focused: KPIs
Make it easy for yourself and your team during the fundraising process. If you are showing off a variety of metrics and potential metrics, investors are going to want to see how you are doing on those.
You may have to circle back to them, and they are going to want to see that you actually do what you say. That is going to be much harder to achieve if you are working on many fronts at the same time. Simplify and increase your chances of getting funded.
Keep Your Story Focused
In a recent episode of the Dealmakers Show, founder of Sunbit, Arad, who has raised $50M for his fintech startup warns to keep your story simple too.
There may be many things your startup can do, but that doesn’t mean you have to shout about it all at once. There may be many verticals your startup can work in. There may be a variety of personas your product or service can work for. There can be a variety of potential markets for you.
It’s going to be hard enough to do great at one of these. Experienced investors can connect the dots for themselves. Show them you are focused and can win in one area. They’ll help you scale after that.
Shortlist Investors Before You Pitch
Your time is your most precious asset. Your mental state is important too. Chances are you will still have to face rejection from investors, even in the best-case scenario. Some entrepreneurs can handle 200 and 300 rejections and won’t give up until they make it.
Not everyone has that grit. Obviously, this is one metric where less is going to feel a lot better. You also don’t simply want to needlessly waste months or years trying to raise capital and convert investors.
Fundraising success isn’t about how many investors you talk to. It’s about talking to the right investors.
Boil down your list and spend your time on the best fitting money sources that will provide the highest conversion rates.
- Investors who are actively trying to deploy money right now
- Those who are focused on funding startups at your stage
- Firms that specialize in your industry and type of product or service
- Partners who believe in your mission
Show Traction & Results
You may need to raise some money to develop your product. Though, if you can show you’ve already gotten that far, and can show traction, you’ll stand much better chances of raising money.
If you’ve been able to start by bootstrapping, you’ll also have to give up less equity, while gaining more money when you do raise.
Again, it’s very important not to over exaggerate. A little sales and hype can be a good thing. Though, if you start making things up it is going to catch up with you.
Have A Cohesive Story
It’s hard enough to convey your story and close investors. It’s going to make it far harder if there are inconsistencies across your online profiles, websites, and your pitch and pitch deck. This is only going to add to the questions and doubt if they still take you seriously.
Take the time to clean up your online assets. Eliminate any contradicting timelines, facts, and stats.
Be sure that your pitch deck has a nice smooth flow, answers all the most pressing questions, and is clear about the problem, solution, and the mission.
Educate Yourself About Fundraising
You’re probably in a hurry, but don’t get too far ahead of yourself. The last thing you want is to have to take a step back after investors start showing interest in order to learn about startup valuations and term sheets.
At best it is going to make you look like an unprepared amateur. If could cost you the check, and leave you getting far worse terms than you could have negotiated.
Check out this fundraising training to equip yourself with what you need to know.
Bring In Some Help
One of the biggest risks in launching a fundraising campaign is the time it is going to require. In the early stages, it can easily take up 50% of your time. All of a sudden, all of the traction you were promising and the progress you expected to make is going to be much harder to achieve.
Some will put everything else on the back burner and just go all-in on trying to fundraise. Eventually, they may just run out of money.
There are two main ways to do better here. One is to hire people to help out. They may be generalists who can do other tasks in your business as you get off the ground. Or, they can be outsourced for specific tasks. Like creating pitch decks, creating crowdfunding pages, running PR, and filtering potential investors. They can do many of the tasks that would otherwise drain your time and that you really shouldn’t be distracted by.
Or you can hack the entire fundraising process, shorten the timeline, and improve your chances of success by leveraging advisors with investor connections and fundraising consultants.
Make Sure You Are Raising Enough Money
Once you start raising capital for the equity you’ll never stop. If you think you’ll be raising a new round again in 12 months, you’ll actually need to be at it full force in six in order to close the round in time.
This also gives you a very short time frame for actually producing results and hitting the milestones you promised at the last round.
If you don’t hit them, your existing investors may be very reluctant to participate again. That’s not going to look great.
You also risk running out of money between raising to find product-market fit and a round that will help you scale. Consider raising a little more to give you more runway.
Be sure you can hit your milestones with the money you raise.
Alejandro Cremades is a serial entrepreneur and the author of The Art of Startup Fundraising. With a foreword by ‘Shark Tank‘ star Barbara Corcoran, and published by John Wiley & Sons, the book was named one of the best books for entrepreneurs. The book offers a step-by-step guide to today‘s way of raising money for entrepreneurs.
Most recently, Alejandro built and exited CoFoundersLab which is one of the largest communities of founders online.
Prior to CoFoundersLab, Alejandro worked as a lawyer at King & Spalding where he was involved in one of the biggest investment arbitration cases in history ($113 billion at stake).
Alejandro is an active speaker and has given guest lectures at the Wharton School of Business, Columbia Business School, and at NYU Stern School of Business.
Alejandro has been involved with the JOBS Act since inception and was invited to the White House and the US House of Representatives to provide his stands on the new regulatory changes concerning fundraising online.