Whereas there are many ways to get your business funded, equity financing through venture capitalists and angel investors is the most popular.
Throughout my journey as an entrepreneur, I’ve interacted with a number of startup founders and entrepreneurs with special interest on raising capital, I’ve watched business programs and read financial books. Among them all, one thing is constant about funding: Only 5 percent of all entrepreneurs get funded. Can it be that only 5 percent of the ideas generated are good enough to succeed? Why is it that this “magic” number never seems to change?
With programs such as KCB Lion’s Den, Blaze BYOB from Safaricom, #UBERPitch and many others, it is now easier for startup founders in Kenya to get startup capital.
However easy it is, having an idea or starting a business will not make banks and investors fall over themselves to lend you millions of shillings. They will took one look at you and your negative net worth and quickly usher you out the door. But you should be able to convince a few forward-thinking people to invest in your business, and make your entrepreneurial dreams come true.
If you have a dream of building the next big thing and are wondering what it takes to get people on board with their checkbooks in hand, here’s a few things that will help:
- Build an AngelList Profile
AngelList is a great way to both learn about investors and let them learn about you. Creating a profile—including specific info about your company, product, and team members—makes it easy for people who are interested in your space to find you.
Once you’ve filled everything out, share your profile with your friends and professional acquaintances and request references. When people follow your company, it will show up to others they know (and hopefully pique their interest).
- Create a Strategic List of Investors You’d Like to Meet With
Given the odds of any individual meeting resulting in an investment, it’s easy to want to cast as wide a net as possible. You can save yourself a lot of time and hassle if you focus your initial efforts on the 30-50 investors who are most likely to be a good fit for your company. (You can always expand the list later.)
Once you have a list of investors you’d like to meet with, go through it person-by-person and see if you have any mutual acquaintances. If so, great! But before you ask your contacts for an introduction, get together with them first so you can show them how awesome your company is. Ideally, your common connection should feel like he or she is doing a favor for both you and the investor by making the intro.
- Ask yourself whether or not people can “buy” you as the leader of your business.
This is one thing that Kriss Senanu, (one of the Lions at the Lions Den) looks for. In a recent event organized by Centonomy Limited, Kriss emphasized that he looks at the entrepreneur first before considering their business or idea. Your personality should fit your business. If you are confident and passionate about your idea, your investors would look at you and think, “yeah, you could be the expert on what you are doing. Sure.”
- Have a thorough business plan and Keep all financial projections conservative.
Whatever business model you want to use, make sure you do a lot of research on your community to determine the viability of operating such a business, and develop a solid local marketing strategy as well as a management model with policies and procedures.
Be careful not to under-promise and over-deliver. A lot of people worry about getting the quick win, convincing investors to hand over cash because they’ll make a killing. Desire to create healthy, long-term relationships with your investors and keep their expectations realistic. This will enhance your reliability and make you a good person to work with.
- Comb Your Networks
The best way to get meetings with VCs is through introductions from other entrepreneurs or investors—which means that if you’ve decided to solicit VC money, it’s time to leverage your contacts (and their networks) to see who you can talk to. While cold-calling a venture capitalist may not be the easiest feat, it’s somewhere to start.
- Create a solid exit strategy.
A solid exit strategy will give your investors a lot of comfort that you have carefully planned out what would happen if the business failed, and what would happen when you eventually sold the businesses. This set your investors’ minds at ease by taking care of all the “what if” questions up front.
Founding and building a successful startup encompasses alot of areas of focus. I have just tackled a few of them. Although finding capital is one of the hardest part of getting your business off the ground, it is also the most rewarding. Once you’ve found other people to invest in your business, you can get back to—or start—your dream job! Though it can be a long road to success, finding allies along the way (whether they’re friends, angel investors, or venture capitalists) to help keep your business afloat can make all the difference in the world. Good luck!
Additional research for this article was done at Forbes, The Muse and Bplans