I am probably one of the few entrepreneurs on earth who enjoys fundraising. When I declare my fondness for raising dollars, other entrepreneurs look at me as if I’ve said something incredibly offensive. “You like fundraising?” they repeat back to me as if they’ve surely heard me wrong. But yes, I do. I may even love fundraising. It could be because I’m new at the game. Or maybe I haven’t been jaded by the process and don’t know any better yet. However, the idea of sharing my passion for Monica + Andy with potential investors, and on occasion getting them to actually invest, leaves me with a high.
Fundraising is the single biggest challenge for any rapidly growing startup. It’s what keeps most entrepreneurs up at night. But I’ve learned to wrangle the process in four easy steps rather than let it overwhelm me.
Step One: Share Your Story
The first step is putting together a deck that tells your brand’s story. It should capture both the excitement of where you are now and where you are taking your business. Think about your brand’s purpose. Present your case for how you’re solving a critical problem. Share the details of how your product makes life easier or better. And remember, you are the answer.
Step Two: Network
Once your deck is ready, it’s time to get it out there. For most entrepreneurs, this is the hardest part. To get started I used sites like Angel List and LinkedIn to search my own networks for people to connect with. Do copious research on who invests in your field. Ask mutual friends for introductions, but don’t be afraid to reach out cold. Create a “one pager” with all of your company’s major highlights. This way potential investors can take a quick initial look and decide if they want to meet you to hear your entire story.
Step Three: The Terms of Investment
When you take on investors, you give up ownership. However, the tradeoff is that your investors give you the opportunity to grow and expand. Beyond an infusion of cash, the right partner also brings connections. These relationships should help you open new doors. Consider these factors when negotiating.
Step Four: Be Critical
The number one and most counter-intuitive fact of fundraising is that you don’t always have to take the money. Finding investors is like online dating (or so I’m told — I’ve been married for 10 years). You need to make sure that you like each other and that this is someone you want to be dealing with. Your investors should fit your company culture as much as a new hire. It’s okay to say no thank you. Don’t be afraid to let them know you’re vetting them just as much as they’re vetting you.
I’ve learned firsthand how important it is to have great investors in your corner. During the last Monica + Andy raise I had two miscarriages. Between the personal loss, running a growing business and trying to find investors, I was spread very thin. But with a supportive board, I was able to take a breath, practice self-care and focus on moving the business forward. My team had my back. And you can’t put a price on that.
Monica Royer is the founder of Monica + Andy, a clothing store that specializes in quality, organic baby apparel. This is part two in a four-part series about how she started her company. Part three will focus on how to find and hire great employees. Read part one, on how Monica quit her job to start her own business.