Military Spouse Magazine

MAR 2019

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The simplest route is bootstrap- ping: starting and growing your business with your own cash. While it generally poses more risk and requires a significant amount of elbow grease, it can be done successfully. We did it for a year and a half to be exact. If you need more funding than you have on hand, business owners will often turn to a focus on "easy sell" investors: friends and family. You may not be super keen on the idea of asking those you love for money, but it is a popular alternative and worth consid- ering. Erica and I never actually turned to family and friends but strategically planned out our growth moves from bootstrap straight into revenue and then investment. STAGE TWO: ANGEL INVESTORS + SEED FUNDS (PRE-SEED / SEED ROUNDS) You might be investor-ready (aka proven market fit with revenue and traction growing), but still question if you need to fundraise. Erica and I had many conversations about whether to continue bootstrapping or get serious about finding investors. In the end, funding was the fuel we were going to need to take Instant Teams to the next level. Investors could help. As accred- ited individuals and groups, angels have a passion for entrepreneurship, and invest their money into startups like ours. And they're typically a part of your pre-seed/ seed round; when you need help sowing your business and increasing your revenue. We also raised funds from micro venture capital (VC) firms and seed funds. Micro VCs and seed funds are early stage financing groups that invest money on behalf of investors, and fo- cus on later-stage traction and growth (ex. revenue or number of users). Early stage angels can also be found in the pre-seed round within incuba- tors or accelerator groups (like Bunker Labs, Patriot BootCamp, and TechStars), propelling your startup knowledge and offering up equity capital (less than $1 million) to "fertilize" your business. I joined the Founder Institute (a global accelerator) with the ultimate goal of grow- ing our outside network. (I'm from a super small town in the Midwest, so I needed all the help I could get!). The idea was to then utilize that network to get warm intros to investors and build relationships that would ultimately make our seed round a success. In addition to the networking, the resources and skills I obtained proved invaluable. So, before you hit the ground running toward your ideal investors, arm yourself with the following tools: • A solid pitch deck (a brief sales presentation) • AngelList: Identify investors you can get on board, and any incubators or accelerators to join. • Crunchbase: Get the scoop on who's invested in companies similar to yours. • Foundersuite: Sync up with AngelList to keep your preferred list of investors organized. • LinkedIn: Grow and build your network by connecting with like-minded peers, investors, and business leaders in your space. WINNING RESOURCES AND TOOLS FOR FUNDING SUCCESS • "Hockey-stick growth" financial pro- jections (high growth potential) • Understanding of your exact num- bers, market size, and customers Incubators and accelerators can guide you through the process of pulling together this information. Consider joining one before you start your quest for investment. When you build up a warm network, you'll hear a "yes" to pitch opportunities far more than a "no." STAGE THREE: VENTURE CAPITALISTS (SERIES A , B, C+ ROUNDS) Have prior experience launching a busi- ness, a proven leadership team, potential for long-term growth, and your numbers add up? You stand a good chance at pitching to VCs. VCs are institutional investors, mean- ing they manage other people's money (raised from banks and other sources) and invest it in businesses like yours. Just know they are looking for fast growth and a big return. You can go through multiple rounds of VC funding (based on a letter of the alphabet: A, B, C, and so on). These different rounds will reflect different valuation milestones. For example, if your company is seriously thriving , the Series B round will value company stock higher than A, and C higher than B. Starting and growing your business is exciting. But it comes at a cost. Will the process require a significant amount of moxie? Absolutely. Yet from first- hand experience and from one military spouse business owner to another, I know you've got what it takes to succeed at bringing investors on board. You just have to take the leap. Now, go get 'em! H MARCH 2019 / MILITARYSPOUSE.COM 23

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