How to Maintain Fundraising Momentum in an Economic Downturn
Is now a good time to be fundraising?
Are VC’s still investing in this period of economic uncertainty?
If you are fundraising, how do you maintain momentum and take advantage of the opportunities out there?
These were just some of the questions we tackled in our recent Invigorate Masterclass that was focused on the topic of scaleup investment and fundraising.
Read on to find out what our experts had to say!
Founders the world over would be forgiven for thinking that fundraising is off the cards right now.
Surely investors are doubling down on their current portfolios and ‘waiting it out’ for the economy to bounce back?
In our July Masterclass, we spoke to two investors in the know to find out exactly what is going on in the world of investment right now, and to get their top tips on how scaleups can maintain momentum in their fundraising endeavours.
Top Tips for Scaleups
Peter Cowley, serial entrepreneur and angel investor, was keen to highlight that no-one has that crystal ball right now, regardless of what they might be predicting for the coming months!
As an active investor himself, he was also keen to underline that whilst there are huge changes happening right now, both investors and founders shouldn’t assume that what’s a problem today is investable, as it won’t necessarily be a problem in the future.
That said, he also acknowledged that some of the most successful businesses in the world have been formed in economic downturns and that businesses that can prove out sustainable success at the moment are setting themselves up extremely well for the future.
Being lean with your capital will always go down well with angel investors and VCs!
Dama Sathianathan, partner at Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV), took a slightly different stance on the topic, citing an investment that BGV made back in 2013 in a company called DrDoctor.
Having seen DrDoctor pivot during recent months to take advantage of a more tech-driven and virtual application of their platform, her advice to founders right now is to take the time to focus.
Focus on product and focus on team. Because these will be the things to get your business through economic uncertainty and to build a foundation that will be extremely attractive to investors in both the short and long term.
Keep the Fundraising Activities Going.
Both Peter and Dama stressed that raising investment is never a short-term activity anyway and so no founder or business should be abandoning their fundraising efforts just because of the current economic uncertainty.
Indeed, this is the time to build up those all important relationships and lay the groundwork for raises that will be needed in 6, 12 or even 18 months’ time from now.
Interestingly, Peter noted that his mentoring activities have gone through the roof recently!
Without the hassle of travel, he’s been able to optimise his time much better and offer more support to the businesses both within his portfolio and through new networking opportunities.
For Dama, the advice with fundraising right now was clear – don’t gloss over COVID as something that’s not had an impact on your business. Investors will see straight through this.
The New World of Virtual Pitching
For those scaleups still pushing ahead with investment pitching, the biggest change of late is of course that everything is now virtual.
Something that Peter thinks is here to stay, albeit hopefully with a blend of both virtual and face-to-face in the not too distant future!
So when it comes to pitching virtually, what advice did our experts have?
- Take advantage of as many remote pitching opportunities as you can. Everyone has that little bit more time on their hands so the opportunity is there right now to get in front of investors you may not meet under normal circumstances.
- Don’t forget about the world of crowdfunding, especially for consumer products where your investors are also your customer champions!
- Do your research and make sure you’ll get past that first investor gate of being in their area of specialism.
- For presenting, keep your slides to image-based; then have the more text-heavy slides ready to email afterwards.
- To start with, get to know just one person in the investor group or VC. Take the time to build up that relationship and then use it as a way into the rest of the group.
- Be prepared for negotiations to only go so far – most deals are done based on chemistry and that has to be via face-to-face meetings rather than over Zoom.
For more great advice like this, be sure to check out the following resources (things that were also discussed in the event but are too much to cover here!).
- More info on Peter Cowley, including his books ‘The Invested Investor’ and ‘Founder to Founder’.
- A full list of all the wonderful Diversity and Tech Initiatives in the UK from Bethnal Green Ventures.
- An amazing Guide on Diversity & Inclusion in Tech from Diversity VC and Atomico.
- Great advice from Sifted on how to pitch remotely.
- Interesting Learning & Impact Reports from BGV.
If you’re a growing business and would like to check out the other great masterclasses we have coming up, then just head over to our events page for the full list.
We’d love to see you at one of our future events!