By Kim Nilsson, CEO
We recently announced our successful angel funding round at Pivigo. We are super excited about what that will mean for our business, and we have already started adding to our team which is a lot of fun. But fundraising is hard, and I wanted to share a few thoughts on the process we have just gone through.
First, it takes a lot longer than you think. From us starting to think about raising money, to the money being in the bank, was a time span of over 15 months; I have even heard others say that was quick! Why does it take so long? Partially because you have to get your pitch right, partially because you need to find the right person to speak to, and partially because you typically need to get several people to agree and that simply can take a lot of time. For a typical, impatient entrepreneur (like myself), just wanting to get on with growing a business, this can be extremely frustrating. But unfortunately I don’t think there is any way to significantly speed this up and I will grudgingly admit that taking the time to really hone our pitch made it a much stronger proposition.
Next is to find the right fit with the angels you are raising from. There are literally thousands of angel investors out there; from the most inexperienced making their first tentative investments, through family investors making a small number of deals, to professional syndicates making dozens of deals every year. You should absolutely take the opportunity to pitch to everyone you can get your hands on, but you have to accept that only a very small number of them will be relevant to you, and interested in your business. The majority of them will likely not understand your business, some will not care enough to invest, and a few will get quite excited. It’s like that saying “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince!” In my experience getting a few knock backs is not always a bad thing as they will teach you something, so chin up and keep at it. But also, don’t forget that you need to “vet” them too, to make sure they are the right investors for your business, and that you share similar professional values and ethos.
In all those conversations, you will find your voice. It takes time and practice, as with anything in life, and I found that it was only after I pitched for maybe the 20th time that I really felt I nailed it. You have to try different ways of pitching. Sometimes I would start with the history and background of Pivigo, sometimes with the future vision. Whatever your approach is, just remember to take feed-back as often as possible, choose which of it to listen too (because you will get a lot of conflicting feed-back), and strengthen your pitch. Only once you have found your voice, will the angels fully listen.
Something that may be perfectly obvious, but is critical, is that you have to 100% believe in your business plan and pitch. Any sign of hesitation or weakness will kill the pitch and if you do not 100% believe in it, why should an investor. It is one thing to actually believe it, and another to portray it. Confidence is one absolute key ingredient in a good pitch. Of course not overly confident or worse, arrogant, but humbly confident. It’s ok to have bits of the plan that you know will need review in the future, and it can be a strength to know your weaknesses, but when it comes down to it, you have to be able to say that you would bet everything you have on the success of this business.
Lastly, enjoy it! I know, in those dark moments when no one will listen, or when little progress is made, it feels like it’s all one big pain. My worst situation was going in to an angel who, first of all, kept me waiting 40 minutes after our agreed time and then took my printed deck that he had in front of him, drew a black, fat line over about 90% of it, circled the last 10% and said, “This is the only part of the business I am interested in!” Afterwards you can laugh at it, but at the time it was horrific. But there are also wonderful moments. Individuals who tell you that your business is great, that you have done a good job and that they believe in you to the extent that they will give you their hard earned money to treasure and grow. That confidence boost is so humbling and gratifying that, together with the opportunities that cash brings to your business (your baby) it is worth all the trouble in the World.