Three lessons in funding from the Smarta 100 Academy

Our expert panel including Sam Barnett of Struq, Gem Misa of Righteous, Darren Westlake of Crowdcube, Luke Hakes from Octopus Investments and Nick Howe, the regional enterprise manager for NatWest inspired the audience through sharing their unique experiences of searching for funding.

Here are the top three points from the night:

People are buying into you

Of course investors are looking for a sound business plan, but in many cases the deal breaker is the entrepreneur. If you manage to persuade them that you are honest, smart and can deliver on your word then an investor is more likely to take a risk on you. Luke Hakes picked up on this when he told the audience, "To get VC funding the idea has to be viable but the most important part is the people running the business."

Raising funds doesn't happen overnight

It's a long process that requires you to work hard in perfecting your pitch and preparing your business plan. Therefore you need to think in advance of when you will need money and start looking for funding way before you run out of cash. You need to be prepared for setbacks and work. Founder of Struq, Sam Barnett picked up on this point when he confessed that in his experience, "Raising money is twice as hard as you think it is and takes three times longer."

Prove the product first

It's great having an idea and a business plan, but to really impress any investors you need to be able to show that your product can be a success. Investors need to know that your product is in demand so put out an MVP (minimum viable product). This is something that Gem Misa from Love Righteous did. She got her salad dressings into a few supermarkets, but needed funding to keep her business at supermarket standards. Telling the crowd of this she declared, "you need proof that your product works to get funding."

For more information on the Smarta100 Academy events and to enter the Smarta 100, click here.

Were you at the event? Check out our amazing panoramic photo of the whole crowd. Don't forget to tag yourself.

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