Our inaugural breakfast on finance and fundraising began with the best of starts. Early birds ready to start on time and one the best breakfast spreads London has seen at a startup event. As the room filled and great connections were made between Geek Girls (and of course the Geek Boys) we overheard some great stories of founders that had raised and were looking to take the next step, and those that were just entering the finance minefield and looking for guidance on the best place to start.
Kicking off the formal talks was Alex Hawkes from Wayra, who coincidentally is incubating her own startup and is due to leave on maternity in a couple of months. She gave us her top tips of how to approach accelerators, what you need to be aware of when completing your application form, common downfalls like not completing the application form properly (!) and where you need to focus your time when preparing to pitch.
Next up was the formidable Itxaso from EC1, who had just made it back from teaching her spinning class and pedalled across London (all before breakfast!) who gave her top 9 tips for startups looking for VC funding. Some great overlays with what Alex mentioned, like the importance of the team, but reminding everyone that it's not all about the VCs, it's also about you making some decisions. Is VC funding really for you? Are you about to take dumb money or are you lined up with some really smart investors.
The last of our expert panel was Bindi Karia, VP of the Silicon Valley Bank Accelerator. She took us through a form of finance that is rarely mentioned, particularly in early stage startups, venture debt. Although it's something that is most likely going to come much further down the line, she took us through when you need to be talking to your bank about it, what situation your business needs to be in, and how you plan to manage it, should you choose this route. A lot of attendees with open eyes, wide mouths and a lot to be learnt for what could happen to us in a few years time.
Finally we hit up the startups, with Brittney Bean, CEO of Songdrop telling us her top tips on the reality of raising finance. With a £100k seed round in the bank and VC conversations on the table, she had some hard and fast tales from the front line.
And last up was Geek Girl organiser Robyn Exton. A member of the current Wayra cohort and in the middle of raising her first seed round , her top tips were to take every opportunity & coffee, to get ready to wait it out the 6 months and to really think hard about who you are about to get into bed with.
This morning we saw a cool site to check out with great quotes for startups - http://startupquote.com/
Which at the moment leads with:
Always choose your investors based on who you want to work with, be friends with, and get advice from. Never, ever, choose your investors based on valuation.
- Jason Goldberg
And from our talks at the event, we would have to agree. This idea that funding is a two way street, between the investors and yourselves, came out loud and clear. Take your time to meet them, get to know them, realise what you are asking from them and be prepared to show them the absolute quality that your startup holds.