What is Possible if “I Do” - 5 Steps to Fundraising Success
By Diana Murakhovskaya & Irene Ryabaya, Co-Founders Monarq.
Our mission at Monarq is to connect women both online via the Monarq app and in person via Monarq events. Every month we host an intimate #MonarqMoguls dinner for twenty Women Founders in all stages of entrepreneurship and feature an investor passionate about funding and promoting women led startups. We started the 2016 #MonarqMoguls dinner series with Susan Naci, a partner with 32 Laight Street Partners, at a dinner full of food, wine, and great conversations.
“We all try to make things perfect before putting them out in the universe, so my mantra for 2016 is: What is possible if I do and what is impossible if I don't.” - Susan Naci opened the dinner with a way to link our actions today with the results we want tomorrow.
1 - Ask for More Money
“I would love to see women ask for more money when fundraising.” - Susan Naci
One of the recurring themes of the evening was the risks to a company of undercapitalization. The problem is two-fold. First, founders often underestimate how much money their companies will need. When companies pitch, many investors half the projected revenues and double the projected expenses for their own calculations and you should consider doing the same. Second, founders are often apprehensive about giving away equity and try to hold on to as much of their company as possible. Susan pointed out that owning a smaller piece of a successful company is a lot better than holding onto a larger piece of a failed one. Make sure you raise the funds you need to grow and take your company to the next level.
2 - Share Your Idea
“Throw everything out on the table and don't be afraid to share your idea.” - Susan Naci
Susan told aspiring founders to fight the initial instinct to be secretive and possessive of their ideas and to share them widely. We couldn’t agree more! One of our favorite quotes is “Ideas are abundant but drive isn’t.” You can put your worries about “someone stealing your idea” to rest and be sure that the best way to meet the people who can help bring your dream to life is by talking about your idea. When we started Monarq, we told everyone we met about our mission to connect women. Thanks to this, we received an amazing outpouring of support and advice from a lot of terrific people, women in particular which is what has made it possible for us to get where we are today so quickly.
3 - Don’t Undervalue Advisors
“Advisors are critical.”
Finding the right advisors can make or break your company. Advisors can be the perfect sounding board when you need to make tough decisions and often provide access and open the doors you need to take your business to the next level. It is a great privilege for an advisor to take on the role at a company and you should always value their time. It’s best to give advisors equity and set rules early on for what is expected for them. A formal agreement detailing your relationship and the type of involvement and access you expect is key.
4 - Personality Traits of Great Founders
“I tried it like this, but if I were to do it again I may do this...what do you think I can do better?” - Susan Naci
Being open, authentic, flexible and teachable are a few personality traits that make great founders. If your first instinct is to act like you know all the answers you might be harming your business and chances of success. Since startup founders make a lot of mistakes and the best businesses succeed because they pivot quickly after any failures, investors look for founders who are teachable and who can learn quickly from their failures and adapt. It’s not a weakness to share openly what’s working for your business and what isn’t with and to allow meaningful advice to help you with your idea. Your transparency and authenticity will be rewarded with advice that can often make all the difference.
5 - Create Partnerships With Your Investors
“The real value in the room is the company and intellectual property not the money.” -Susan Naci
Finding the right investors is critical and the investor / founder relationship works best when you think of it as a partnership. The dynamic between investors and entrepreneurs in the current market is uneven with a lot more emphasis on the money. This can drive entrepreneurs to compromise in ways that shift focus away from the company and into pleasing the investors. When fundraising, it is important to start the process with investors who believe in your mission and are in the for the long haul. Once you find the right partners, set up the relationship to be one of open and equal communication from the start.
Let’s make it a great 2016 and every day ask ourselves “What is possible if I do and what is impossible if I don't?”
Monarq (@socialmonarq) is a community of like-minded women by Irene Ryabaya and Diana Murakhovskaya. They are women on a mission to inspire us to lead a more meaningful and fulfilling life, spark authentic conversations, and experience the joys of new friendships. Both women started their [...]