• Women 2.0 HowTo Conference San Francisco, September 30 - October 1, 2014

Do’s & Don’ts For Raising Money As A First Time Founder

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Get a mentor! Actually, get a couple. One who is light years ahead of you and one who is not quite as far along to help you take things one day at a time.

By Courtney Powell (Founder & CEO, PublikDemand)

One day I hope to describe in greater detail my lessons from fundraising for PublikDemand. It has been an extraordinary experience.

Have more do’s and don’ts? Tell me at [email protected] or @CourtneyPowell.

In the meantime…

On AngelList:

  • DO get on it: you, your company and your team members.
  • DON’T publish your profiles without a more experienced founder or advisor reviewing it first.
  • DO read this AngelList tip goldmine first.

On Funding Strategy:

On Social Proof:

  • DO find 2-3 well-connected, credible people to build a warm referral plan.
  • DO understand the ‘back channel’. People will check up on you. Mind your P’s&Q’s.
  • DO understand the theory behind VC SIGNAL.

On Financing Structure:

On Investors:

  • DO keep a list of reoccurring questions and understand why they are being asked and fix the issue or find a way to mitigate it in your pitch. Download my example questions here.
  • DO be courteous, genuine and respectful of people’s time.
  • DO remember that it’s the relationship that matters the most. They may not invest in this company but you will hopefully have many more.
  • DON’T skip on getting references from your investors. Talk to other founders they have invested in.
  • DO have your funding docs and wire info at the ready so you can close quickly.

On Pitching:

  • DON’T pitch. TELL A STORY. Give macro context.
  • DO show that you understand your place in both the PROBLEM and SOLUTION space.
  • DO skip BS projections.
  • DO articulate why you, your brain, your skills, your experience and that of your team is the right combination to build this company.
  • DON’T just talk to hear yourself talk. Engage your audience and LISTEN to their questions and suggestions. Hopefully these are smart people and there is a huge opportunity to LEARN FROM THEM.
  • DON’T rely on your pitch deck. You should be totally fluent in your product, marketing, metrics and vision.

On Motivation:

  • DO know why you are doing this. If you don’t believe it you will not make it happen.
  • DO listen to other successful entrepreneurs and LEARN. I swear by Stanford Ventures Entrepreneurial Thought Leadership Podcast.
  • DON’T beat your self up if you hear a “no”. It happens to everyone. Brush yourself off and KEEP GOING.
  • DO use affirmations, Brian Tracy, or some other positive mental mechanism to build yourself up for this battle. It sounds hokey but it’s not.
  • DO take a couple days break when you can no longer think clearly.

On Sanity:

  • DO get some sleep. They can tell if you are delirious.
  • DO work out, get a massage or de-stress before big meetings.
  • DON’T take it out on your team.

Finally… DON’T lose sight of the fact that Silicon Valley is a strange place and asking people for money is not a normal thing either. It will pass and you will be able to get back to what you love.

You can reach me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter at @CourtneyPowell.

This post was originally posted at Courtney Powell’s blog.

About the guest blogger: Courtney Powell is Founder and CEO of PublikDemand, giving individuals a voice against large corporations and giving corporations an incentive to put their customers before their profits. Her passion for starting companies began at age 20 when she joined Boundless Network, a fledgling startup that quickly become one of the fastest-growing companies in America. She founded LeedSeed in 2009, a marketing automation firm for leading companies. Follow her on Twitter at @CourtneyPowell.