Minutes before the first meeting of my startup’s seed round process, a wise advisor pulled me aside. “This is going to be wild,” he warned, with a knowing smile. “Brace yourself.”
Five months later, after raising $850,000 for my startup, ReelGenie, the ride has stopped (for now). I hopped off the fundraising rollercoaster with memories of unexpected thrills, a few bruises, and many lessons for the future.
Here are eight things that I know now that I wish I’d known five months ago:
1. Network like there’s no tomorrow. You never know where you’ll meet a future investor. ReelGenie’s investors include professors of mine from years ago, former co-workers, and individuals who I met once at an event and loved spending time with. Put yourself out there. Unless you’re already rich and/or famous—and if you’re reading this article, that’s probably not the case—investors won’t just flock to you.
2. Cast a wide net, smartly. Most people you talk to will say “no.” So play the numbers game. The more potential investors you speak with, the higher your chances of success. But I say that with two caveats. First, do some homework so you’re targeting people who are likely to love your deal, rather than wasting time with those who won’t. Second, stay organized. Keep track of every communication you make. If you can’t convince an investor that you’re equipped to handle fundraising, good luck convincing them you can run a company.
3. Seek out points of validation. If I never hear the phrase “herd mentality” again, I’ll be a very happy man. But the reality is that’s how fundraising works. Investors don’t want to be alone if the ship sinks. Lock down a few smart investors early. Get early adopters and evangelists for your funding, just like you do for…