Starting a business is hard. Securing funding for your new business is even harder. You may have read about the many ways you can raise money for your startup. But this story is unique. It can inspire you to think outside the box, as you explore different options to find investors for your business.
I run a company that develops a B2B SaaS product. Some call it a startup. In short, NapoleonCat is a social media marketing application that simplifies publishing, community management, competitive analytics and reporting. It is used by marketing agencies, e-commerces, global brands and local stores alike.
Last year we broke even and as of the beginning of this year we have been generating profit. A few months ago I decided we need to raise more capital to boost our international sales and product development. And for that we obviously needed another investor (we already have one seed fund on board).
I’m not a great sales person and I didn’t want to run around the town knocking on the doors or hire an advisor to do that for me (didn’t have money the latter).
So, I had to find a different approach. Inspired by transparency policy implemented by people like Joel Gascoine from Buffer, Alex Turnbull from Groove, and (to some extent) Michal Sadowski from Brand24, I decided to publish some data that would show NapoleonCat’s development and business potential.
I decided to use my personal profile on Facebook and see how such information would resonate among my most receptive audience, i.e. my friends. Based on the feedback, I planned to adjust the approach.
In April I published my first post on Facebook showing NapoleonCat’s growth in revenue and client base. I also briefly described our gradual product evolution from pure social media analytics towards more functional social CRM. Below is the graph I used to illustrate the data.
The post was well received, so I decided to follow up and in May I published the second post with updated data. This time I also added information about our new clients in Central America as well as Coca-Cola’s invitation to the global social media analytics review we’d received. The updated MoM growth data were as follows:
And the next day I got a message (also on Facebook) from an old friend of mine. First he congratulated, then we started talking about the business and then… he asked me if I, by any chance, I was looking for an investor. I later received a few more such enquiries.
In total, there was actually more capital offered than I planned to raise. Finally, we closed the deal with the valuation 25% higher than expected. This second round of seed financing gave us solid 6 figures in capital invested and 7-digit company valuation (it’s for those wondering about the scale – not huge, but satisfactory).
Three lessons I learned from this experiment:
1. Don’t be shy – speak loud about your success (but be honest). We tend to underestimate the value of our achievements, especially if they don’t happen overnight. It’s because we lack perspective or don’t have time to reflect on it with all the daily hustle in our business. And even if we do recognize our worth, quite often we’re afraid others will see it differently.
2. Use the power of social media and your network – Facebook sells, even the whole companies, as this example shows ;-) To be fully honest, I’m not a 20 years old college dropout. I’ve been in the business for many years and I have quite a few “serious” business people among my friends, also on Facebook.
So, my first degree of connections is already strong. But even if you’re not that experienced, chances are your friends know someone who know someone…
3. Prepare for a campaign, not one battle. Most any success comes from hard work, not just one-time lucky shot. Even if your idea is great, you should not expect people to get it at the first time. Don’t get discouraged, if the results at first are not exactly as you expected. Learn, adjust and repeat.
I hope this story will encourage you to think more broadly about the ways to find investors. It’s not only pitch decks on startup camps and events (although those events are great, so I heard).
And it doesn’t have to be a tedious, secret process, if you find the courage to share some more data about your business than others. I would really love to learn how you “sell” your startups to investors. Just drop a comment below or an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.