The Onswipe CEO and new Author Jason Baptiste is giving away a chapter from his fantastic new book The Ultralight Startup: Launching a Business Without Clout or Capital and an opportunity of a lifetime for one entrepreneur to meet four of the best venture capitalists today to pitch their idea. The venture capitalists include Andy Weissman, Partner at Union Square Ventures, Alex Finkelstein, Partner at Spark Capital, Brad Feld, Parter at Foundry Group, and David Tisch, Managing Director of Techstars NYC and Angel Investor. To enter, go here and fill out some simple information about your startup. The winner will be selected by April 20th, 2012.
The following is an excerpt from Onswipe CEO Jason L. Baptiste’s new book The Ultralight Startup: Launching a Business Without Clout or Capital.
If you pay attention to the headlines about startups getting millions of dollars of funding from investors, venture capitalists, or partnerships, you might think the fund-raising process happens overnight. It all sounds so easy: Some entrepreneur with a thousand dollars in his pocket creates a great PowerPoint investor presentation, secures a few meetings with important people, and bam! A handshake, some signatures, and the deal is done.
The reality is a little trickier. Fund-raising is a process, and although the right pitch might come in handy, in this chapter I’ll discuss the practical start-to-finish way to think about fund-raising that will get you the money you want in the end.
The Real Purpose Of Raising Money And Why it Might not Make Sense For You
More often than not, entrepreneurs raise money at the wrong time and it destroys their startup. This is an understandable mistake, because the press, the outside world, even your peers put a lot of emphasis on raising money.
If you pitch investors too soon, they may get the wrong notion about your business and decide to pass. Although they have the option of coming back to you at a later date, that is highly unlikely. But even if another opportunity does come along later on, they’ll always remember you as the one they passed on the first time around.
There is no one reason why an investor passes, What matters is whether they pass on you based on a full picture of what your company really does. But on the off chance that a startup is able to raise money at the wrong time, it will certainly have a negative impact on fund-raising at a later date.
When is the right time to Fund-raise?
There are seven questions you should ask yourself when deciding if you are ready to fund-raise:
- Do you have a technical cofounder? If you have a technical cofounder or someone who is focused on product, you are far more likely to raise money. Product drives the growth of a company; having a product-driven founder can generate growth.
- Do you have a demo? If you have a working demo, then you are much more likely to raise money since you can show an investor what your company does. Onswipe was able to fund-raise because we could show investors firsthand exactly what we do. Show, don’t tell.
- Do you have any customers? Companies with customers are more likely to raise venture capital than those without. If you don’t have customers yet, you should make this a priority, as it shows proof of traction in the market. It’s not about the amount of traction, but the proof it shows in your model.
- Are you ready to bring more people on board? You need to be ready to manage other people and expand your team. If you are not ready for this, then you are not ready to raise venture capital. Venture capital lets you do one thing in the beginning: Hire more manpower.
- Have you rid yourself of other obligations? If you are not 100 percent committed to your startup you should hold off on raising money. Many entrepreneurs try to fund-raise while still at their current job. Though it’s good to begin a startup before you quit your job, it takes a whole lot more time and effort to raise money.
- Is your business large enough? Most companies are not large enough to be backed by venture capital. To raise venture capital, companies should be in multibillion-dollar markets or have the potential to make revenues of more than one hundred million dollars a year.
- Are you able to devote the majority of your time to fund-raising? Fund-raising is a time-consuming process that will completely slow down all other fast-moving aspects of your company. Be prepared to put business development, product development, and any marketing you may be doing on hold, or at least slow them down for a while. Put together a strategy for keeping operations going while fund-raising. I suggest spending 50 percent of your time on fund-raising and 50 percent on continued operations and product development. One founder should still be moving product development forward.