Our journey to investment is a bit different to most people who start with Demium. We already had co-founders and an idea in mind – an AI software that aids SMEs with all their social advertising needs in real-time. We convinced Demium to let us attend the AllStartup Weekend and said “as we already have a developed project, we’d like to reach an agreement in which you invest.” They said if we reached a billing index, they would invest money along with us, the founders, and two other investors. We set up and within a few months the first round was closed.
I met the first investor, who comes from the financial world, at an event. I started talking to him and after he heard about the project, he wanted to support it. The second investor I met at a Demium investor event. We instantly clicked and, interestingly, he’s working in the States at a consulting firm specialising in big data systems for the automotive sector. When I told him about Adtuo I realised he shared my vision.
Thanks to this initial round, which raised €100k, we were able to begin. Almost as soon as we closed one round, we began the second, even though we didn’t have the definitive metrics. Personally, I think we started too early and I wouldn’t advise diving straight into it, especially when what you offer is complex, like a product that is also a service. In any case, we looked to business angels once again, as well as StartupXplore, the crowdfunding platform.
When you’re looking for investors, don’t just look for the money. If that’s all you’re after, then you may as well go to a bank and, in fact, you’d probably get it even easier out of a bank. What I look for when I’m after a business angel is ‘smart money’: someone who understands a little of what we do and can offer advice, whether they’re in a similar industry or not. Always ask yourself: “What can they give me apart from money?”
Right now we’re looking at the next round of financing, series A. We’re after venture capital that specialises in our sector and is used to investing in SaaS, especially a fund that has ties outside Europe, on an international scale. In any round we look for an investor who can accompany us to the next phase. It’s not always possible, but it’s a plus if you can find it, because it shows that they trust you and your project and they want to be a part of your success.
At the beginning there were only three of us – myself, my sister María and Victor Arenas, who we met before the ASW – and we did everything. After the first financing round we invested money in marketing, but also in expanding the team to include more specialised people to do specific jobs, such as programming. After this next round we want to focus our resources on growing and escalating. For instance, instead of having one commercial person, having a whole commercial team. We’re always investing in people so that Adtuo works better, because at the end of the day, a company is made by the people who run it.
Thanks to Demium’s trust in us, we were able to quickly progress to the next phase. That initial trust and the help they gave us to achieve various milestones in the roadmap was key for us. They’ve taught us a lot and accompanied us every step of the way. In our case, the classes we took with Demium founder Jorge Dobón were so instrumental that sometimes I didn’t even have time to apply everything I’d learned. Of course, there’s no manual to follow, because each entrepreneur will have a different way of working, but maybe what didn’t work for me will work for you, and vice versa. In the end you’ll find your way.
If, like us, you already have evidence of sales and projection, it’s important to align that with the ultimate vision, but it also doesn’t matter if you’re not there yet. The most important thing is to learn all about your sector, about your idea and move forward.