Funding Lessons from a Successful Startup Founder

Funding Lessons from a Successful Startup Founder

Published: Jul 10, 2015
by Annie Pilon
In Startup

Funding Lessons

Startup fundraising is a long and arduous process. There’s just no way around it. Even for those startups with big names and help from major incubators, there’s always a lot of time and hard work involved.

Aihui Ong, founder and CEO of Love With Food, a startup that helps food companies with brand awareness, learned that funding lesson the hard way. A graduate of the 500 Startups accelerator program, Ong thought that raising startup capital might be a simple task.

She did manage to raise $650,000. But it certainly wasn’t easy. She writes in a recent Forbes post:

“If you think fundraising was a piece of cake because we were a 500 alum, think again. In fact those three months were painful and filled with discouragement. They were physically exhausting. And along the way, I constantly had to battle my own thoughts that I was a failure. I had to defend myself against others’ doubts that I couldn’t succeed because I didn’t have an Ivy League education or wasn’t qualified in other ways to run a startup. I was at the brink of giving up countless times.”

Ong also offered up some funding lessons and tips for other startups who want to try several different avenues for finding investors:

  1. Get your company on the Angel List.
  2. Be flexible and willing to meet with investors whenever they’re available.
  3. Reach out to your network to find connections with potential investors.
  4. Follow up with updates, such as thank you notes after meetings.
  5. Email potential investors once a week and keep track of their responses.
  6. Reach out to current investors to see if they can help you make other connections.
  7. Talk to the press at any opportunity.
  8. Wear your company T-shirt, or show off your company pride in any way possible.

There’s no one right way to find investors for your startup. In fact, there are likely several right ways, as Ong’s list shows. If you try one method and don’t get the results you were hoping for, keep trying other options until you get where you need to be.

It likely won’t be quick or easy, no matter what your background is. But if you really want your startup to succeed, you have to be willing to put in the time and hard work to get it funded.

Image: Love with Food

Annie Pilon

Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found on her personal blog Wattlebird, and exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

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