Raising capital for equity, or in return for a customized ‘pigs will fly t-shirt’. By Heddi Cundle (Founder & CEO, myTab)
I signed up my startup myTab to Fundable recently. We need cash for myTab to scale. We’re doing well, things are on target yet investors will not go near a female single entrepreneur, not even if they’re blind drunk (the investors, just FYI). I’m like a Medusa to them! We’re getting rave reviews about myTab, scaling well, 40% return visitors, nearly 100k uniques a month and boostrapping like Goodwill. We’re getting there and we can shout above the noise quite easily.
Regardless, no one will invest because we don’t have that ‘lead guy’ on board. It’s a bit of a gender problem in Silicon Valley that I’m sure you’ve heard of. Investors are now starting to fund female founders but only if there’s a guy co-founder who has his hand in the scene, a bit like an acting puppet with an angular jaw or 2 years of Google under his belt. Either works in this town.
So we switched tactics and thought hey, we can’t change an industry all in one go and we won’t get mad…but we can cause enough of a stink to make sure it’s a strong message ‘out there’ that the tide is changing and gals will use other resources to still reach their goal.
I do know of some women who, sneakily, grabbed a male co-founder and the second funding was in the bank, threw him out on the street. Smart, sassy and hope they didn’t chip a nail during the throwing. Nevertheless, I refuse to find this guy actor. It’s just not my cup of tea.
Which leaves me with Plan C, D or F: take advantage of incredible crowd funding opportunities with startups who are giving ladies like me the platform to raise capital for equity or in return for a customized ‘pigs will fly t-shirt’ (honestly, they’re really cool!). And these people don’t give a rooting toot about my gender; they’re focusing on the innovation, and want that pig t-shirt for getting their credit card out.
I approached Kickstarter but nope, they literally threw me out the door in seconds. No web based businesses. We want 20 year olds from Canadia (no typo) who make glow in the dark, missile, BBQ grilling watches!
We were still talking with interested investors who excelled in imagination of reasons behind not investing. We got the following: amazing company, great solid team, outstanding business, logical problem-solving startup, will go far, has incredible exit strategy, and absolutely makes sense, a really innovative company and a gorgeous company dog. I made up the last part because I can, she’s mine!
And then came: it doesn’t fit our portfolio (no, not even your 3 gift card, 5 ecommerce and 4 travel websites? Hmmm); the market size isn’t big enough ($120B of the $700B travel industry is too small for you? Gosh, you’re picky); I don’t have experience in this (I believe your 19 ecommerce portfolio clients would beg to differ) and the list continues. I’m saving all these for a scrapbook one day, or toilet paper.
Ultimately, bringing us back to Fundable, what’s different about them is that they helped us compile our portfolio together and Eric actually emailed me, wanting to chat about myTab can heavily promote. The super cool founder wants to talk to this little pig’s startup? Loving it!
And what’s transpired is that I actually feel we are being supported under a great banner of entrepreneurs who formed their business to really help myTab team-piglets succeed. They ‘get us’ and want to see us grow. They know we’re on Fundable because we’re stuck – we’re scaling but now can’t scale fast because we don’t have the $$ support so need to hustle cash. We’d rob a bank but now I’ve stated this publicly, that’s out the question (sometimes I do shoot myself in the foot). And they’re willing to keep driving us forward. They have their eye on us and it’s a 1000 better feeling knowing they’re with us all the way vs an investor who has created every single excuse to not invest, even though 40% want to chat again once we get seed.
I believe the word is controlled risk and ‘keep the disruption to a minimum please until you have direct competitors and can then compete for space, like everyone else does. Being unique just doesn’t cut it for us. It makes our knees go to jelly. Lets chat in 12 months’.
So we have options with Fundable as shown so clearly in their ‘how it works’ - give away cute merchandise (Kickstarter-style) in return for hard cash and also have the door open for investors to get in on the action in return for equity. The former will actually encourage the latter and hopefully, we’ll come out well from this. The new crowd funding laws haven’t come into effect yet and may not for another year or so. I lose count of who’s campaigning for what and how many people have signed things to make more important things happen.
But I do know this: these guys at Fundable have found a way to collaborate a Kickstarter-style platform for typical Silicon Valley startups in return for a t-shirt, involvement in the company and the door open for wary investors to tiptoe in and have a sneak peak. And I like it!
Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. Photo credit: Brian Auer on Flickr. About the guest blogger: Heddi Cundle is Founder and CEO of mytab.co, an online social travel gift card where friends and family can gift, save, plan, share and book travel -- all within myTab. Heddi has 18 years of PR & Marketing experience, from travel and hospitality to TV, consumer retail, technology and music. Credentials include co-launching the phenomenon London Roadhouse Flair Bartending competitions. Follow her on Twitter at @HeddiCundle.