Startup Stories - Raising Money (Part 1)

Startup Stories - Raising Money (Part 1)

(Part 1 of 3)

Rinocloud Ltd (trading as Rinolab (https://rinolab.io) recently secured €1.2m seed from a range of international investors that includes VCs and angels from China, the US and the UK. Incorporated in July last year, its raise is at Silicon Valley levels yet the company was founded in Cork and is co-located between Cork and Cambridge in the UK. Founder and CEO Fin Murray also happens to be a co founder of smallbusinesscan.com and is one of the driving forces behind business-achievers, this new joint initiative with Ulster Bank. Here he outlines what he and his colleagues did to raise such a large seed round from international investors that have not invested in Ireland before.

The Backstory

First of all the Rinolab.io back story. The founders were all involved in research at some level…as researchers, scientists, engineers, funders. We had a common research project that spanned uCambridge, CIT, Cork and Granada University, that involved photonics, optofluidics, spectroscopy, biology, AI and loads of other sciency stuff. We were generating vast amounts of data. The human data interfaces we were using were memory sticks, physical note books, cut and paste, Dropbox, email and attachments. We decided to invest in proper data management software. We couldn’t find any and this led to our lightbulb moment.

Research

We researched about how data was being managed.  We researched about how scientists would like it to be managed. We looked at solutions being offered and potential competitors. We seemed to have spotted a significant gap, in a very defined niche in a large international market. A minimal viable product was built. We agiled the hell out of it and through iteration after iteration and working with our network of friends and colleagues we eventually had scientists, principal investigators, professors, heads of departments from all over the world signing up to the beta.

We had enough – as it turned out plenty – to convince investors to come on-board so that we could properly resource what was looking like a very large opportunity.

Executing on the Vision

Our round is relatively large but the promoters and management have maintained control over the vast majority of business ensuring that we can execute on our vision (and the vision that investors bought into) AND ensuring that we have a roadmap to controlling the business as we move into subsequent rounds. That’s important and the investors we brought on-board understand this.

There’s a crazy balance raising seed about getting the valuation right and holding on to equity and raising enough money while welcoming investors as partners. It’s not an exact science. We did the research on what’s being raised in our home market AND other markets. We figured out valuations from the online information and gauged reaction as we progressed our roadshow. Then as offers came in we effectively were given a marketplace that helped us shape an agreed valuation. Having said all that if I had to say what’s more important at a seed round – the raise or the valuation…it’s the raise!

Tomorrow Part 2 -  How we positioned our story

 

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