Startup Stories - How We Positioned Our Story (Part 2)

Startup Stories - How We Positioned Our Story (Part 2)

Rinocloud, Ireland’s scientific data management software company, went looking for money  in March 2016 and we were mentally geared for a 12 month journey. We were building out an MVP, we had hundreds of beta users that needed supporting and we were embarking on an intense roadshow. It was busy and we were resource challenged, so we looked for help wherever we could find it. 

EI delivers

We leveraged Enterprise Ireland! Its potential as a match funder gave us a significant USP when talking to international investors so we were starting with a great financial headwind; We were not going to the international VCs with our pockets hanging out.

1. EI has contacts in the VC community outside of Ireland. We used them.

2. At the same time, we ‘thought’ and ‘acted’ international from the start.

3. We had an A and B list of investors. The ‘Bs’ being the ones we started with, refined our pitch at, made mistakes with, got feedback from to make our pitch better. ‘As’ were the ones we really wanted and the ones for whom we didn’t sleep the night before pitching them.

4. We also leveraged our status as a Cambridge start up and that put us in the spotlight of international investors – the A listers - that look at Cambridge like they do Silicon Valley.

5. For every pitch we made, we made sure we left with at least one introduction to another potential investor AND we followed up to make sure the introduction was made. VCs and angels are pack animals and are OK with introducing other potential members of the pack. (Some VCs don't post contact details and seem to challenge you to do an Easter egg type hunt to get in contact with them as if its a test of your persistence to get in contact with them. Make up your own opinion on this practice :)

6. For every pitch we made we tried to find something unique for that particular investor. We looked for speeches they made, looked for how they positioned their investment strategy and we showed how we 'fitted'.

7. We were brutally realistic as we journeyed through our roadshow. We looked for fast NOs. Too many potential investors were a waste of our time and limited resources. If we got Maybes, we made sure to meet those people a few times and look them square in the eye to gauge if they were worth the time to convince into a Yes. It turns out that we had a ‘maybe’ that we really liked. We built respect and trust over time and eventually the maybe became a hard yes and he brought other powerful investors with him. (Lots of angels especially those in angel networks can suck your time dry - you have to figure out if they're worth it?)

8. We realized early on that raising money for a start up and doing a roadshow is a ‘hard sell’. It’s knocking on doors, cold calling, and facing rejection. We’re either masochists or have an absolute belief in our project…

9. Money and valuation are important but the right investors/partners are also vital. We realized this because of a near miss with an investor that didn’t share our values. We eventually only went with investors that we knew it was going to be OK sharing a trench.

Next time – what seemed to impress the investors most. Market? Team? Product? Distribution? Traction? We seemed to have plenty under those headings. But what seemed to resonate was our repeated mantra: ‘that software is sold not bought’. Seems obvious but investors claim that lots of technical founders believe that just by exposing their product to the internet that its going to go viral?

 

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