Here’s a x-posting from our sister site Angel Academe

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It barely seems believable but this week we launched the fourth year of Entrepreneur Academe – the mentoring programme we run for female founders of tech or tech-enabled start ups. This year we’ve shaken things up a little and instead of following a cohort over several months instead we’ll be inviting different companies to join us each month, in order to see as wide a range of businesses as possible. But each month will consider the same issues, focussing on investment readiness.

A fine  – and diverse – array of businesses were in attendance at this inaugural session:

  • Channeliser is an online network enabling companies to search, connect and engage with prospective IT partners anywhere in the world.
  • Doobiz is a mobile app for contact sharing (using a contact-over-audio technology) and realtime business networking.
  • PsychApps is an app which helps to diagnose, track and journal mental illness, as well as discretely connecting users to local professional therapists.
  • SoSensational is a fashion and beauty e-commerce site curated and tailored to the needs of women over 50.
  • Talking Circles is an enterprise platform for promoting connectivity and continuous learning between coworkers in medium to large organizations.
  • Trik is a drone data management software for vertical structure inspection, assisting drone pilots in data collection, visualisation and analysis.
  • Wattl is a video social network providing users with a grid of heatmapped content which is popular and trending.
  • Worktu connects schools with local teachers online at via their a job-posting website, connecting with local teaching talent at a more affordable price than traditional recruitment agencies.

Sarah kicked off the afternoon with an introduction to the Angel Academe suite of offerings, before asking the entrepreneurs to introduce themselves and pitch their businesses – which everyone did with great verve and passion.

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The first half of the afternoon’s mentoring proper was a panel Q&A and general group discussion. We were honuored to have a great group of panellists kick off:

  • Francesca Tondi (Angel Investor)
  • Jessica Dick (Synergy Growth)
  • Natasha Jacobs (Craigie Capital)
  • Audrey Mandela (Tech Entrepreneur & Angel Investor)
  • Karen Thomas-Bland (Angel Investor)

We then explored lots of the issues raised in small groups under the headings: The right kind of funding for you – and the right kind of funder; Organising your campaign: prep, networking, pitching, tax & legals; and Valuation – what are you prepared to give up? We covered far too ground to go into too much detail here, but here are some of the headlines from each group:

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The right kind of funder

  • Go for smart money – investors who can contribute much more than simple cash.
  • Investors love to see entrepreneurs who have put their own money into a business – the ultimate skin in the game.
  • That said – don’t wait too long to start fundraising – investors also want to see ambition.
  • Try to find investors who will most likely follow on.
  • Use the “network effect” of your investors.
  • Remember that fundraising is almost always a long process – longer than you anticipate. (A rule of thumb here is 3-6 months.) So don’t wait until you’re out of runway until you raise! And expect to be juggling fundraising and building the business a lot of the time.

Valuation

  • Every round you do you need to re-justify your valuation (can you really scale it? does this valuation make it worth it to investors?)
  • You run the risk of a down round in future rounds if you aren’t able to deliver on what you said you could do.Gauge your expectations to your investors and judge what is really needed for your business.
  • Consider the exit options: not everyone has to IPO, in fact very few do – a trade sale is what happens to most companies. Also, what are your own goals?
  • You can also set a valuation as a range and work it through with your investor.

Organising your campaign

  • Terms sheets – ideally you should have the same term sheets for all investors in a round, although if there are different types of investors, eg angels and VC or an investor/director, this may not be possible.
  • Be prepared with your own term sheet to present to investors although some, particularly VCs will bring their own.
  • EMI option pools will dilute investors,  make sure your investors are aware of this.
  • Have a full pitch deck which can be adapted to different situations, eg lengthened or shortened, less text for face to face presentations, more text for a deck that is emailed.
  • Open your pitch with a “spear to the head” blow.  Make yourself stand out!
  • A good pitch creates an emotional connection to the listener, tells the story of the problem and your solution and why you and your team can address this issue.
  • Always mention competition; everyone has some! Where do you position yourself against your competitors?
  • Keep your pitch as simple and as easy to quickly understand as possible.
  • Make sure your pitch matches your social media profile, eg Linkedin!

Lots to mull over there; if you’ve got anything to add we’d love to hear from you. And in the meantime, if you’d like to enter your company in the next session, you can do so here. Finally, many thanks to Bob Mollen of Fried Frank for hosting the afternoon. More next month!

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