Funding Female Founders | Tips From Tiffany Young
Last night I had the privilege of having dinner with Tiffany Young the Investment Manager at recently launched UK-based fund AllBright.
First off let me say that AllBright is doing something very different to pure-play VC funds or crowdfunding platforms. Not only do they invest, support and nurture female founders (waves little flag in celebration), but they also offer a range of funding options for entrepreneurs looking to grow their business both from the network of Angels and through crowdfunding on their website. For AllBright, it’s not just about writing a cheque, it’s about doing what is best for the entrepreneur and the business.
So what pearls of wisdom did Tiffany have to share for female founders looking to raise investment?
The usual topics came up, make sure you have a sound financial model (and that you understand it!), have a solid business plan clearly articulating what you do and how you make money, have a warm introduction and have a cash runway of at least 12 months once the investment is in.
But a few things Tiffany talked about really stood out for me…
Number one was understanding and harnessing the power of your personal brand. Investors are making an investment in you just as much as they are making an investment in your business. Champion yourself as Captain of the ship, position yourself as a thought leader and an influencer in your industry, speak at events and be super active on social media. It’s also a brilliant way to get FREE PR for your business and who doesn’t love that?
The second thing we discussed which really resonated with me and the experience I have had working with women to raise private equity, was the fear that so many female founders have of the entire concept. All too often, women have a serious case of imposter syndrome when it comes to raising investment. They think it isn’t for them, or they question whether their little kitchen table or creative business with a team of 4 (or even less!) is worthy of investment – when actually they are sitting on a profitable gold mine, in a huge market that is currently being underserved. They are afraid to think BIG and let this fear hold them back.
I have witnessed this countless times when women approach me to help them with their funding journey. The thought of having to pitch to investors or put themselves or their business out there petrifies them. Often they are most afraid of the unknown or the perception that it is like Dragon’s Den with gruelling Q&A sessions.
Whilst there are a lot of suits and glass boardrooms and there are Dragon’s Den style pitching events, for the most part it’s all just people connecting with other people – and a lot of coffee dates! Think of it this way, you can either be afraid or be rich. (Well sort of rich… you will be able to take your business to the next level with greater prospects of making yourself more money.)
Finally, Tiffany’s top tip was that you can never start your investment journey too soon.
It’s so important to remember that the funding process is exactly that, a process. And it takes time. The sooner you start working on your pitch, building your connections and meeting with investors the better. Yes it’s important to have something to say to investors (what you are looking for etc.) and have the basis of a plan but done is better than perfect. Your business plan and pitch is something that will evolve with you over time. A mistake entrepreneurs often make is to obsess over these documents with countless revisions until suddenly 4 months have gone by, they haven’t met a single investor and they needed the money yesterday.
Again, this is often due to fear. Fear of ruining the relationship. I can say hand on heart, that speaking to an investor and being told to go away and make a plan, gain more traction or that you aren’t for them is not ruining the relationship. Yes you want to make a good impression but a willingness to learn and seek advice is the best impression you can make. Plus, you are now on their radar. Just like the world isn’t your customer, all the investors in your city/country/the world, are not your investors and you should learn as soon as possible who your investors are and what makes them tick.
Find out more about AllBright here >
If you would like to know more about working with me on a 1:1 basis and how I can help you with your funding journey, please contact me here >