Silicon Valley entrepreneur and angel investor, Chris Neumann, shares his insights on what founders need to know about raising VC investment, and why equity investment is not right for every startup.
Chris joined Vicky Brock in Edinburgh while on a whistle-stop tour of the UK, where he was giving a series of fireside chats with Barclays Eagle Labs, to help early stage founders separate fact from fiction when it comes to Silicon Valley myths and the reality of startup fundraising.
A short and sweet episode, as Chris had less than 30 minutes before he was due on stage, he makes the critical point that VC money comes with very specific expectations around growth, and that founders pursuing that path - especially those in small countries or regions - need to broaden their perspective and map their development and progress to a suitably ambition baseline:
"Founders who want to go down the path of creating a globally changing company, it is important to get outside your own country fast. Most founders think of being the best, most successful company in their country. Silicon Valley founders think about winning the world."
Startup founder Sam Pettipher of Ebar joins Vicky Brock to explore the details of his recent equity crowdfund investment and shares his advice for other early stage founders planning a raise.
Joining the podcast just six weeks after his crowd fund campaign beat its target by £100k, injecting a transformational amount of cash into EBar Initiatives, a start-up with a mission to change the way the world is served its beer, Sam shares the learnings, execution process, and highs and lows of his successful crowdfund.
He explains how much planning time is required before the fundraising campaign even begins, and the ongoing time commitment required to market the campaign and respond to questions from potential investors. He details how much money founders already need to have committed by investors before the fund-raise goes live on the crowdfunding platform. And he talks about those heart-stopping moments when the investment moved backwards, away from its target, then picked up last minute momentum to beat its target by £100k.
Sam and Vicky contrast bootstrapping, angel investment and equity crowdfunding as options for startups to consider, and find that despite its many upsides, running a successful crowdfund takes time, planning and effort and is certainly not a "quick fix" route to investment.
Danae Shell and Vicky Brock discuss startup culture, why startup founders have to take responsibility for deliberately creating the culture in their business, and how building balanced, consistent teams can enable startups to thrive in an uncertain, complex environment. Danae explains why setting context is a far more useful employee skill to seek than vision-setting, and why there'll be no room for rockstars or genius a***holes in her new startup.
We cover commercial validation and product market fit and why this time round neither of us will be raising angel or VC investment for our new startups until we're certain that we have it:
"One of the key lessons I have learned so far is... for the love of God do not take scale up money until you are ready to actually scale, and you know in your bones that you are actually ready to scale. Because as soon as that scale up pressure comes, if you are still trying to iterate through anything that comes before scaling, you are just creating an ulcer or worse."
Danae Shell, is a veteran startup employee about to become a founder for the first time. A native Tennessean, she is a programmer-turned-marketer who has been part of the Scottish tech scene for 15 years, working at scale-ups Barrie & Hibbert and FreeAgent before their successful exits. Most recently was Chief Marketing Officer at Care Sourcer, scaling their marketing strategy and teams.
In this episode we discuss the lessons we have both learned across multiple tech startups, and what we will and won't be doing in our latest ventures as a result. We dive into the ways we'll be flexible, keep costs to a minimum, create a very deliberate startup culture, and build teams of consistent "doers" in order to get something in front of users as quickly as possible.
The blog post mentioned is the episode is: "Startup founders. You don't need adult supervision"
Recorded in front of a live audience of Scottish business owners, Vicky Brock is interviewed by journalist David Ferguson about how and why - after the lowest point of her business career - she is now back with startup number five.
Vicky shares her process on how to start and grow a business, what she has learned across her very different companies and the 9 reasons she has discovered for why your startup may not be growing like you planned.
She explains why the first idea you have almost certainly is not the one that will become your business, why she prefers pain to delight and how her latest startup will achieve more in four months than her previous company achieved in 18 months. Because while it is relatively easy to create a product, and even fairly easy to build a product people will by once, it is actually very, very difficult to create something people will buy again and again. But that is what you need to achieve if you are going to build a business.
"I'm pleased I'm back here doing it all over again - I tried to start a bit too fast last time and we skipped over some important early steps in really finding product and solution fit. I'm not going to make that same mistake again. My whole team are focused on doing the on-paper work that means we test and validate our assumptions up front. And because we're starting in response to very specific challenges laid down by our initial paying customers, I'm starting my this new business with my customer as a full-time lodger, which is great!"
Multi award-winning fintech startup co-founders, Loral and Eishel Quinn of Sustainably, join the Vicky Brock to discuss fundraising and investment challenges with the Entrepreneur Agony Aunt. We talk frankly from the founder's perspective on finding a lead investor, angels, VCs, corporate venturing, the importance in doing your due diligence on potential investors and the challenges of getting investment over the line in a time frame that that doesn't harm your business, when you're the only ones feeling the urgency.
This episode I’m talking about quitting. And I’m talking to myself, because when you have a job, have a company, have investors, have staff - there are some things you just can’t say out loud without major consequences. “I quit” is one of them. So based on my own experiences, and the many conversations had with other founders & CEOs feeling trapped in their startups, here's the if, when, why and how of quitting in your startup.... Quitting your role, quitting the company, exiting a market, project or product - and winding up your startup completely.
In a very frank monologue episode, Vicky urges entrepreneurs to pay themselves more and dives into the when, what and how to plan for a salary and the things people don't tell you about startup founders personal finances (or lack of them). Clearly, on a roll, and without pausing for breath, Vicky also covers financing your startup in desperate times, what worked and didn't work for her as her company faced running out of money, and what to do and not to do when there are only a few weeks of cash left in the bank.
More founders lose out on startup investment because they handled their Q & A badly than at any other point in the pitching process. Evelyn McDonald, is CEO of the Scottish Edge fund, an investment competition that awards roughly £1million per round, with maximum investments of £150k per young business. Our discussion covers what question you can expect to be asked by investors, how to prepare, why the Q and A is so important and what founders need to do and say ensure to have the best chance of getting funded.
I thought the episode so useful for entrepreneurs who're pitching for money that I've had it transcribed here: https://goo.gl/WLjtUA
Equity investment, knowing your value and the importance of raising enough money to fuel your startup for 18 - 24 months of growth. Global Invest Her founder Anne Ravanona and Vicky Brock urge a high potential female founder to think big and ask for more money.
Funding from debt, crowdfunding, equity and desperation financing for smaller and early-stage startups with Anne Ravanona, CEO & Founder of Global Invest Her, a global community and platform that helps women entrepreneurs get investment-ready. Speaker, writer and advocate, Anne is an expert in demystifying fundraising and she joins Vicky to answer two listeners' funding questions, and to discuss Vicky’s personal experiences of raising angel investment, grant and debt funding. This blog post on desperation financing expands on some of the other themes touched on in this episode: https://goo.gl/D1o5hE