How to get investment for your startup: 20 tips from female founders
In celebration of Women Entrepreneurship Day, we talked with Kasia Gryzlo – CEO at HearMe, Klara Losert – CEO at Talkbase, Antonella Cvrtak – Accelerator Manager at Female Founders, Zofia Kierner – CEO at Girls Future Ready and Karolina Wilk-Tryjanowska – Senior Associate at Demium, and they gave us their best 20 tips to get investment for your startup. Are you interested? Keep reading!
1. Understand the Venture Capital “game” and environment.
This includes the framework, the terms, and everything else. You need to be aware of what a Venture Capital needs, how the investor makes money and what they base their investment decisions on. Understanding this will help you prepare for the committee and be successful.
2. Be prepared for the investment round.
Make sure you have all the documentation well-prepared in time, as the members of the investment committee will study them in order to be ready for your presentation.
3. Know your pitch deck and be “pitch-ready”.
Be prepared to pitch anytime, anywhere. You never know when you’ll meet someone who could be interested in your company, whether that’s an investor or a potential client. You can also get last-minute pitching opportunities in startup competitions and you need to be ready to explain your project. In order to be ready, you should have different versions for each situation, whether that’s a 1-min pitch, a 7-min presentation, or everything in between.
4. Know your numbers.
Anybody who is designated to pitch the startup needs to know the figures: how much revenue you generate, how much money you burn, your runway…
5. Trust in the power of storytelling.
Having a story and a plan on how to communicate it is key. Leave the investment committee members feeling inspired by your speech.
6. Talk to other founders who are only a couple of steps ahead of you.
There are many founders who will be willing to help you, you just need to approach them. If you are in the process of raising investment for the first time, don’t be afraid to ask people who have recently faced this situation, so you know what’s ahead.
7. Realize fundraising is similar to a marriage.
It is not only a decision made by the investor, it is also up to you. You should also know what you need from the investor and what you need the investment for. There are many different VCs you can choose from, you should go for the one that fits better with your company and your market, but most importantly with your goals and where you want to be.
8. Stick to your terms.
Don’t settle and don’t let anybody turn around your terms or your idea, no matter what. When it comes to an investment round, it is not only the Venture Capital making the decision. You are also making a decision by choosing who is joining your captable and under what terms. It should always be a bi-directional conversation and negotiation so both parties benefit from it.
9. Have the right mindset and the energy when you walk into the room.
Make the audience believe in you. The situation and space where you present your business can differ, but make sure your energy and mindset are the same regardless to make a good impression.
10. Apply to the fundraising process.
Some female founders are intimidated by starting the fundraising process, but it is an essential and decisive stage in your startup journey and you should always take the chance.
11. Build your network.
Your network is your net worth and it’s never too early to build it. Not only your investment network but also the supporters’ network that can help you.
12. Have confidence.
If you are confident in your solution and have everything you need to back up your idea, the investment process will be faster and easier for you. As an entrepreneur, sometimes we are not 100% sure that our idea is going to work in the market, but that needs to change.
13. Get rid of the social bias when it comes to female entrepreneurship and power.
Women may still have a misconception and social biases about power. Sometimes, when a woman is pitching she may feel insecure and doubt whether her male co-founder would have done a better pitch, or would have gotten a better outcome from the VC just for the fact of being a man. This needs to change, and both VCs and entrepreneurs are in the way of improving their preconceptions.
14. Know the importance of role models and supportive partners.
Representation is key. The more examples of successful female CEOs like Melanie Perkins (Canva CEO), we have, the more female entrepreneurs we are going to see getting into the field. The support you get from people does not depend on their gender. Rely on the shoulders of supportive women and supportive men to pave your way. Let them help you and be part of your success.
15. Support each other and give each other space to grow.
Focus on your goal and be happy about other people’s success. We cannot reach women’s equality if we don’t support each other. Behind every successful woman, there are many other successful women who have supported her and who have had her back.
16. Know that you are the right person with the right idea to start your business.
Everything that has led you to this idea happened because you are the right person to carry it out. You are going to have ups and downs but you need to think about the bigger picture.
17. Have an open mindset. Know that you’re always learning.
As a CEO, you also need to be aware that you cannot be an expert in everything. There are always going to be people who are smarter than you. The most successful founders know they will always learn from someone who is better than themselves. Hire someone within your team that will know better than you in those areas. Detect what the company needs and build an amazing team that can help the company get there.
18. Remember that sometimes it is not your fault.
Identify your weaknesses and improve them. There will be external factors that will affect your success and that you may not be able to prevent or predict. Get up, realize and solve them.
19. Be aware and be determined.
Anybody who joins the entrepreneurship journey is determined to reach the sky and break the limits in order for the project to succeed. Women being conscious about the difficulties that they are going to face during the journey doesn’t weaken them, it makes them stronger.
20. Trust in female power.
It is time for women to found more startups and for funds to invest in them. These companies make VCs earn more money, according to the research made by Mass Challenge and BCG where they found women-run business return twice as much per dollar invested