The actual fundraising took about 6 months, but if you count it from the moment we decided we'd like to take on investment, to preparing for pitches, talking to investors and pitching some more, to finally announcing the funding, has taken about a year.
Mainly through networking. Putting business cards in front of people is a very important part of it. We knew which investors were going to certain events and then we'd make sure we spoke to them. We didn't actually get investment from the people we spoke to at networking events, but those conversations led to introductions to people who did invest. Also the venture capital (VC) industry talk to each other, so if one VC firm is interested, everyone else will know about you.
We contacted investors who we knew could further us. So we pitched to Venrex who have a lot of experience in retail and also Ed Wray as he founded Betfair and knows a lot about running an online company.
They liked the scalability of Footfall123 and the international growth opportunity of our products. We already have clients in Singapore, the US and India, which proved we are ready for international growth too. Plus the fact that we're B2B - I think B2B business are quite a hot topic for investors at the moment as they have more predictable revenue streams and have a more predictable growth path. That helped us as Footfall123 is a predictable buisness: if we put our product in front of 100 of the right people, a certain number of those will sign up. Tehy were also impressed by our track record in acquiring and maintaining demanding clients such as L'Oreal, Byron Burgers, Nestle and many others
A lot. I would say 30 or 40 in total. We found once we had managed to get that first meeting then setting up others was a lot easier, as you get introduced by the people you just had a meeting with. Although as it worked out, we ended up taking investment from the VCs we spoke to at the start.
We gave away a significant equity stake but it was a good deal and we were willing to do it. Giving away equity means these people have a genuine interest in the company. Plus the contacts, support and operational help they give you [makes it] totally worth it.
We wanted to build some new products and expand into different markets, which all cost money. But money aside, the introductions and the experience you can draw from your investors is invaluable. These guys have done it all before, they've seen the problems that we're facing, so now we can go to them for help.
There's definitely more pressure now, as we're held to account. You have to say. "This is what we've done this month and this is what we're doing next month." If you don't do what you said you were going to do, then you will be asked: why? But it's no bad thing. I think everyone works better under a bit of pressure. So having that accountability is useful.
It certainly did and it's a nice one to speak to investors about. It's great to point to other businesses that have been a Smarta 100 winner in the past, and say that Smarta think we're at this high level.
Keep it simple. Investors only need to know one thing. How can they make money from your business? The mistake I made was trying to tell everyone everything we did straight away - this complicates the pitch. You should focus on one thing you do that makes you better than everyone else and tell them about it.
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