Last week TechHub Manchester hosted a very useful event organised by Collider12, that aimed at discussing about the difficulties, dilemmas and overall experiences of starting a new company from scratch, especially in regards to raising funds.. The panel of guests was made up of Darren Westlake (CEO of Crowdcube), Doug Stellman from Enterprise Ventures, Rose Lewis, Founding Partner of Collider and Andrew Ko, CEO of Moment.Us and “local hero” -as described by the Collider12 team.
The talk reached areas of venture capital, crowdfunding, key elements that stand out in company pitches and what do investors first see in a team. The questions were diverse and the networking session that followed over some beer and pizza brought even more stories to life.
Overall, here are some 5 of the most valuable advice we’ve taken with us from this engaging chat over raising funds and challenges of pitching your brand for funds.
1. Make sure your startup idea is valuable and your product is interesting.
If you don’t believe in this idea yourself, future investors, VCs and end-users will for sure not believe in it more. Formulate a singular vision on how people engage with your product and think of how you actually bring value to people’s lives. Then work hard to make this change happen. You won’t be able to get your vision out there if you don’t fight hard enough for it. There will be a lot of obstacles on the way.
2. Develop and communicate a clear brand proposition.
Explain what are you going to deliver to your audiences, how fast and what resources will you need. Don’t be afraid to be bold. As long as you justify every projection and as long as your vision of the future is not completely outside any market prediction, you can afford to be a bit weird.
3. Be prepared for most of the questions people might ask you.
Whenever Andrew Ko, CEO of Moment.Us mentions the greater vision of the company, the reactions have always been polarizing -people either loved where the company wants to get or did not quite understand it. But most of the time people had questions. It took a couple of months to be able to answer them in a relevant way, because some answers came as the product developed. It’s quite important thou that you always admit that you don’t have the answer to a problem YET, rather than passing as a mighty “master of all crafts”. We always learn.
4. Make sure you start off with a strong team.
Rose Lewis empasized the importance of team dynamics, and knowing exactly who is responsible for what. “You need to know who’s going to make things happen for the team”, Rose added. Moreover, products don’t build themselves, but the people behind them do. So find those people that truly believe in making that vision possible and agreeing to be in the same exciting boat of uncertainty and hard work for an undetermined period of time. Our philosophy at Moment.Us for example is “shared risk and shared reward”. We win together, we lose together. Hopefully we’ll manage to bring value to people’s lives together.
5. Never give up.
Andrew always says “it will be worse until it gets better”. Startups might take a while to take off, so you must be diligent and focused to stay on the game. Things don’t happen over night and, what’s more important, don’t stop. You’ll get to that point when the boat moves forward on its own, but until you get there, keep on rowing. It doesn’t have to be on a 24/7 basis. And for this we can recommend this beautiful blog post. But the focus and perseverance have to be 24/7. That is for sure.
This is what we’ve learnt so far from our experiences. There are more to come, that is for sure and we are looking forward to trying them all!
We will be talking about some of these during our Saturday session part of the Music Show, November 16th, starting 3:30pm, Zone 1. Meet us there if you have questions. And if you can’t make it on Saturday, try to stop by our stand, G20, anytime either Friday or Saturday this week (Nov 15/16).
Keep in touch!