There’s more to successful fundraising than most founders see on the surface. What vital factors should entrepreneurs be alert to in order to raise the maximum amount of funding, and be able to enjoy the journey to the top?
1) Benchmarking Valuations & Fundraising Rounds
You cannot afford to undersell yourself and your startup. Who you apply to, how much you demand and the terms you accept can make all the difference in how far your venture makes it and how fast.
Founders need to get their hands on market research to understand at what valuations direct and indirect competitors have raised money at their stage. There can also be sizable differences in the amounts competing startup accelerators commit to each of their applicants, funds raised in additional rounds, and exits. Some offer an average of $50k and have no desire to take companies public. Others start entrepreneurs out with $120,000 or more and have a strong track record of sales to big companies like Google. Check out this Forbes article to compare Startup Accelerators.
Knowing at what valuation direct and indirect competitors raised capital will help you understand where you fall. That way if an investor comments on how high your valuation is you can always refer them back to what the market is paying. It will be hard to negotiate you down having those data points.
2) The Importance of Being a Great Storyteller
There is probably nothing more important than storytelling when it comes to launching a successful brand and raising the money to fuel its growth. Coca-Cola, Apple, SpaceX, you name it. They are all built on stories.
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This can be even more critical for tech startups and entrepreneurs who may be geniuses in engineering, invention and product design, and even coding beautiful websites, yet need to convey technical features into tangible benefits and compelling opportunities for non-geeks.
If you are not a storytelling wizard, then find someone who is who can help you. The pitch deck template by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel is a great example of simple story telling in slides to help you get funded (see it here). The right story can help you overcome any challenge and breakthrough any hurdles. Just as this pitch deck resulted in $400M in funding, even though it came late to the car-sharing economy, well after Uber was already making waves.
3) What Failure Looks Like
To leap into a venture as an entrepreneur you have to be willing to fail. You will do everything you can to avoid that. Yet, even more importantly, you need to know what failure looks like in order to be able to march through it with your head up and pivot or launch something even better. It’s only crushing when you don’t expect it, become bewildered with the responses of those around you and don’t have a…