June 3, 2013 Leave a comment
Maybe it’s the fault of the BBC’s Dragons Den for sitting down a handful of business angel investors in cosy chairs whilst they quiz a few entrepreneurs. With the investors making some sort of deal judgement after 20 minutes, the programme makes ‘deal chasing’ look so easy and gives the impression that you’ve just got to be passionate, convincing and have the ability to trott off some well rehearsed numbers and information. Maybe that’s being a bit unfair on a program that has overall given quite a helpful tutorial into how to prepare your business for angel investors. The problem is that it does somewhat skew the perception of the real world realities of early-stage investment fundraising because it makes it look so instant, so cosy and so easy. The reality is far from this and even for the most experienced serial entrepreneurs find themselves entangled in long drawn out deal conversations and due diligence that can span upwards of six months. Chasing an investor, or series of investors, can be umpteen times more challenging (and long winded) than achieving a sales milestone, or winning a prized client.
I’ve had a run of entrepreneurs recently that I’ve agreed to work with who either feel that the investor has lacked serious intent because of their propensity to ask too many questions or take too long, or on the other hand have presumed that there is an unlimited supply of suitable investors to which they can talk to. The current climate is extremely challenging for startups (I’ve even had fundraising requests for help from US west coast startups).
Accelerators provide a well structured path, not only towards early-stage growth but also presentation to investors, with higher ratios of fundraising success. The reality that many are realising, even entrepreneurs that have raised successfully before, is that there is no easy money and that there are no easy deals being done out there. It’s darn hard work fundraising and founders are being unsuccessful not because of a lack of money in the system but more because their deals are not ready to put in front of investors. Even when a founder is ready, the competition for that money has become so intense. Investors have a batch of great opportunities to choose from. I know investors that have given up on startups for a while because they can’t find a well crafted deal with a good founding team behind it. Don’t tell me that there’s not enough cash out there. There is. There just aren’t enough good deals to match the cash.
Getting your deal ready before talking to investors is key and hence the reason for me creating the startup fundraising and valuation tool, D RISK IT (www.drisk.it). The project will launch sometime in the summer and is also currently crowd funding at: https://www.crowdbnk.com/p/d-risk-it For a limited time, CrowdBnk are 50% matching any contributions (if you reserved a reward, do let me know).